The History of November Theatre
In 1998, Michael Scholar, Jr. produced the World English Premiere of The Black Rider at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, under the direction of Michael Scholar, Sr., his father. It was a bold undertaking for a fringe show with 6 cast members, a 7 member onstage orchestra and a piece that was as strange as it was original. The colourful staging of the show was a runaway success, garnering rave reviews, sell-out houses and an extended run at Theatre Network’s Holdovers at The Roxy.
In 1999, the company was invited to bring the show to New York as part of the juried New York Fringe Festival. During the remount, the show and company went through some changes: new director, Ron Jenkins, new co-producer, Corinne Kessel, new concepts and designs, and a smaller, more portable 3-piece band. This American English Premiere of The Black Rider was darker and sleeker in style, and more rooted in German Expressionism. The show was the toast of Off-Broadway, won the praise of the press, received the festival award for Best Direction and became the highest selling show in festival history. This production defined November Theatre as an ensemble of like-minded artists who wish to create dynamic pieces with a unique theatrical language through text, movement and song.
In 2000, this revamped version of The Black Rider returned to Canada and toured to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and back to the Edmonton Fringe Festival, with more accolades and another extension at The Roxy Theatre. In Winnipeg, the show was named #1 Pick of the Fringe by CBC Radio and TV. In Edmonton, the production received Sterling Awards for Best Fringe Production and Best Fringe Director (Ron Jenkins). It was also nominated for Best Fringe Performance by an Actress (Rachael Johnston), and received two nominations for Best Fringe Performance by an Actor, (Clinton Carew and Kevin Corey).
In late 2004 early 2005, with the approval and praise of Tom Waits and Robert Wilson, the show jumped out of the Festival circuit and into the mainstage seasons of theatres across Western Canada: Theatre Network (Edmonton), Yukon Arts Centre (Whitehorse), Persephone Theatre (Saskatoon), Calgary Opera and Ground Zero Theatre at The Big Secret Theatre (Calgary), PuSh Festival (Vancouver) and Intrepid Theatre (Victoria).
November Theatre took home top prizes at Edmonton’s 2005 Sterling Awards winning Best Production of a Musical (November Theatre/Theatre Network), Best Director (Ron Jenkins), Best Musical Director (Corinne Kessel), and Best Supporting Actor (Clinton Carew), while also being nominated for Best Lighting Design (Michael Kruse) and Best Choreography (Marie Nychka).
November Theatre then took home top prizes at the 2005 Betty Mitchell Awards in Calgary; Best Production of a Musical, Best Director (Ron Jenkins), Best Musical Director (Corinne Kessel), Best Costume Design (Marissa Kochanski), Best Poster and FFWD's Readers Choice Award. While also being nominated for Best Choreography (Marie Nychka) and two nominations for Best Performance in a Musical (Rachael Johnston and Michael Scholar, Jr.).
In 2006 The Black Rider was remounted for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, which was being held in St. John's, Newfoundland. The show was also invited to be presented at the Edmonton Fringe Festival 25th Anniversary Gala. Later in November, November Theatre was honoured by receiving the City of Edmonton's Salute to Excellence "Performance and Citation Award".
In January 2008 The Black Rider returned to Vancouver with a run at the Arts Club, co-presented by the PuSh Festival. That run won November Theatre the top prize at the 26th Annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards: "Best Production (Large Theatre)". The show was also nominated for: "Best Lead Actor" (Kevin Corey), “Best Lead Actress” (Rachael Johnston) and the "Critic's Choice Innovation Award".
November Theatre made Canadian theatre history as The Black Rider became the only show to have ever won the "BEST PRODUCTION" at the Jessie Awards (Vancouver), the Betty Mitchell Awards (Calgary) and the Sterling Awards (Edmonton).
Fall 2008 - November Theatre is invited by the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto to run The Black Rider one last time before the show is retired. The show will be on the mainstage at the Tarragon October 8th, 2008 - November 16th.
November Theatre is in now in the creation and development stage of two new and exciting projects:
"Everyone" a new full-length play with music commissioned by Caravan Farm Theatre for its 30th Anniversary show in the summer of 2009. The piece is a collaboration with 6 other BC companies including the Electric Company, neworld theatre, Theatre Replacement, Pound of Flesh, Theatre Melee and Caravan Farm Theatre to create a modern interpretation of the classic Medieval morality play.
A punk theatrical adaptation of "Hard Core Logo" (adapted from the book by Michael Turner, film by Bruce MacDonald, and screenplay by Noel S. Baker) for late 2009 - early 2010 with original songs by Joe “Shithead” Keithley. Michael Scholar Jr. is writing the script and the piece will be co-produced by Touchstone Theatre, Rumble Productions and Theatre Network.