Message from the Artistic Director
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Apuka Theatre and its first production, Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Natalie Feheregyhazi and my father was the former Artistic Director of Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre, the late Tibor Feheregyhazi. As such, I had the privilege of growing up in an environment where I was surrounded by theatre and artists and, therefore, was constantly learning. Now, three years after the death of my father, as I try to forge my own path in this business, I am acutely aware of how significantly he has influenced my approach to theatre. For that reason, Apuka (which means father in Hungarian) Theatre is named after and dedicated to him and to all those who helped shape and influence his work. Among the values and beliefs my father passed down to me are the following:
Theatre is not about egos or the individual but, instead, always about the community. Audience and story should be the primary focus of any theatre professional and the way to connect the two is through representation, honesty and heart. What I mean by that, is the plays and stories I wish to produce and tell with Apuka Theatre are ones that reflect the varying and diverse lives and experiences of my audience. The reason for this is that the audience is ultimately the reason why we, as performers, exist and, thus, I believe that in return for their attention and support, I as producer, owe them a space in which they can see their experiences reflected – not necessarily always accurately but always honestly; and, the way to honesty is through the heart.
I believe all art is a vessel of expression. It exists as a way to communicate those experiences and feelings that cannot be articulated any other way. Frankie and Johnny is a play that addresses one of the most complex of all human experiences: love. I say this, being myself, a living incarnation of Frankie. I found myself completely alone, working as a full time waitress at 3 jobs, fearing I would have to give up on the two things I valued most in the world: acting and love. I was hardened, I was bitter but, most of all, I was hurt. I seemed unreachable but, then, Johnny walked into my life. As if plucked directly from McNally's naturalistic fairy tale, this persistent and everlastingly optimistic line cook, seemed to see past the many scars, locks, bandages and walls that bound up my all too delicate heart. Instead of writing me off as a damaged, bitter bitch (a term I often hear applied to women like Frankie), he pursued me and the glimmer of warmth still burning deep in my heart until he had broken past every obstacle I'd erected and cracked it open again.
My Johnny is, quite honestly, the reason I am able to produce this play for you today. He has helped make it safe for me to feel again and, thus, to act. For that reason, I can't think of any play that would be more suitable to open my company with. It is an honest and, often, painfully poignant representation of a period of my life. My whole heart and soul is in this piece and I would like to invite you to share this moment with Apuka Theatre on, as Johnny would say, “the eve of something that ought to last, not self-destruct.” To all the Frankies and Johnnys out there, this play is dedicated to you. The fairy tale is attainable – just don't give up.