Award-winning Toronto Director to direct "Rhinoceros"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Head and shoulders shot of Martha Ross wearing glassesThe Department of Drama and Speech Communication is excited to announce that Toronto-based actor-playwright-director, Martha Ross, has been contracted to direct the winter production of Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco.  Martha first worked with the department in 2013 as a sessional instructor for DRAMA 322/422 - Advanced Acting Techniques.

Martha Ross trained at L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris over 30 years ago and has been performing, teaching, directing and creating original theatre ever since. With Theatre Columbus, the company she co-founded with Leah Cherniak in 1983, Martha created numerous award-winning plays collectively and collaboratively.  A selection of those plays include:

  • The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (Dora Award)
  • Paranoia (Dora award)
  • The Betrayal (Chalmers Award for Best New Play)
  • The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls (Dora Award)
  • Hotel Loopy

As a solo writer she has written:

  • Porch People (Theatre Columbus)
  • Dr.Dapertutto (Theatre Columbus, Chalmers nomination)
  • Ratbag (Theatre Columbus)
  • And Up They Flew (Theatre Columbus)
  • The Crack (Rumble Theatre in Vancouver)
  • The Dog and the Angel (Caravan Theatre, Theatre Columbus)
  • The Bog (for HomeTown, Blyth Festival Theatre)

Martha teaches Physical Theatre at universities and private studios across Canada, most recently at University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and McMaster School of the Arts.  In 2013 she directed the Blyth Festival Young Company.    Martha's approach and teaching style have led her to receive, with Leah Cherniak, the George Luscombe award for Mentorship in 2009.

Martha states why Rhinoceros is still an important play:

Rhinoceros  speaks to us as much now as it did 50 years ago. In part this is because we’re currently witnessing around the world an alarming resurgence of neo-nazism. But the play as well speaks to me about our propensity for denial. Like the characters in Ionesco’s play we are blind to what is glaring right at us. We adapt to anything because it’s easier to conform than to push for real change.

I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the UWaterloo students! Through my physical method of teaching and directing, I encourage my students to find the spirit of play while maintaining truth. In the search for a place where there’s a balance between truth and play we discover dynamic theatre, theatre that allows the audience to think and see in new ways. There is always that hope that the audience will leave the theatre changed, even momentarily, or if not changed, profoundly moved. It will be a joy to find with the cast and designers the best way to bring Ionesco’s play to life.