Sleeper Hit comes to Calgary

Vertigo Theatre starts their season with The Big Sleep adaptation

farewell-my-lovely-0920-nb1_8911-editVertigo Theatre starts off its 40th season with a play adaptation of The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s celebrated noir novel.

The first production of this season’s BD&P Mystery Theatre Series, The Big Sleep, will be shown in The Playhouse at Vertigo Theatre between Sept. 17 and Oct. 16.

“We’re the only company, to our knowledge, in the entire world, who does a mystery series every year,” said Craig Hall, the artistic director of Vertigo Theatre and director of The Big Sleep.

Hall said Vertigo Theatre has always been interested in telling mystery stories.

The Big Sleep is a hardboiled detective story about Philip Marlowe, a private detective who is hired by a millionaire to get rid of a blackmailer.

“I think people like the journey,” said Hall. “They like to figure things out. It’s an active form of theatre.”

Hall has been with Vertigo since 2012, while The Big Sleep has been undergoing rehearsals for the past month now. Hall said his job is mainly to interpret the play and determine how everything looks and moves on stage.

This is not Vertigo’s first time adapting a Chandler novel.

Hall also directed Farewell, My Lovely in 2014. Graham Percy and Stephen Hair, who starred in the play as Philip Marlowe and Detective Nulty respectively, will be returning to reprise their roles in The Big Sleep.

“It’s a pleasure for me to work in the same world again,” Hall said.

The sets and costumes will keep in style with the previous play and the aesthetic of 1940s film noir. The play features a combination of physical sets and projections. Hall said the projections allow for quick scene transitions and also gives a film noir quality.

In 1946, The Big Sleep was also made into a classic noir film starring Humphry Bogart. Hall said because the movie is copyrighted, the play mainly draws from the original novel, which is public domain.

He also said playwright Aaron Bushkowsky cut out unnecessary plotlines and characters, narrowing down the focus on the core story and simplifying Chandler’s convoluted work.

Five other plays will follow The Big Sleep in the mystery series this season: Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, Wait Until Dark, Our Man in Havana and The Drowning Girls.

This is the first time Vertigo has commissioned someone to adapt a play. Hall said creating plays, rather than relying on pre-existing ones, helps to rejuvenate the theatre business.

“It’s sort of signals what our future is.”

For tickets and more information on Vertigo Theatre’s production of The Big Sleep, please visit: http://www.vertigotheatre.com

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