From February 18 to 28, the Essential Collective Theatre (ECT) will be presenting the dark comedy Poor at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.
The one-woman play, written by Vancouver playwright Suzanne Ristic, follows the life of the rich, upper class, and hoity-toity Shelly Comorant, who pretends to be homeless in an attempt to understand what life as “the other” is like. Throughout her search for enlightenment, she manages to offend a great deal of people (naturally), and receives advice from a made up vision of Scarlet O’Hara. Starring Niagara Region’s recognizable and creative Monica Dufault.
The Essential Collective Theatre is a not-for-profit organization based in the Niagara Region that strives to produce quality productions of Canadian theatre content. ECT is a proud supporter of up and coming artists including playwrights, actors, directors, and more. The group puts on two full-scale productions each year, and hosts playwriting development programs, community outreach initiatives, and audience engagement activities in between.
ECT is a place of mentoring and encouragement, and has solidified its place as Niagara’s Essential Theatre through values that seek to foster and nurture creative thinking and expression. Their work integrates professional Niagara based theatre workers with emerging/local artists in an attempt to create an open and accepting forum for developing work.
ECT’s current Artistic Director is Dufault, the one-woman star of Poor. She has served two seasons as the company’s Artistic Director and is a veteran of the stage in the Niagara Region, both behind the scenes and in the spotlight. Dufault boasts a number of directing credits including White Crow by Dawn E. Crysler and She’s Mine by Stephanie Jones, both of which were premier productions of new works by Niagara playwrights. She has strove to make ECT an essential part of the cultural experience in Niagara since taking up the Artistic Director position.
“With all this change, our goal remains to create theatre that is meaningful, and resonates with our community” said Dufault in a statement.
Dufault was inspired to put on Poor because of its contemporary subject matter, and the relevance it had to life for members of the Niagara community.
“The disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor is evident in the Niagara Region as in most big cities,” said Dufault in an interview with CentreStage Magazine. “I was attracted to this project because it tackles timely, meaningful issues in an outrageous and funny way.”
In addition to the benefit of having a play with relevant subject matter, Poor is also a big undertaking for Dufault as she plays 23 characters across the course of the play’s entirety, all without ever stepping off stage. However, Dufault rarely shies away from a challenge.
“It is a challenge as an actor to maintain this intense storytelling relationship with the audience for the entire 75 minutes of the show,” said Dufault. “I think audiences can expect to laugh a lot, to be challenged and to consider things in a new way.”
Poor will continue to run at FOPAC until Sunday February 28. Tickets are available online at firstontariopac.ca
Assistant Arts & Culture Editor