November Theatre is a project based company committed to producing and creating alternative musicals with a heightened performance style, incorporating elements of text, movement and song. November's goal is to develop new audiences through international and regional touring, strengthening Canada's cultural exchange.
In 1998, Michael Scholar, Jr. produced the World English Premiere of The Black Rider by rock icon Tom Waits, beat poet William S Burroughs and theatre maverick Robert Wilson at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. This production was directed by Michael Scholar, Sr. The show was a bold undertaking for an independent fringe production with 6 cast members, a 7 member onstage orchestra and an avant-garde sensibility. The colourful staging of the show was a runaway success, garnering rave reviews, sell-out houses at the largest venue (250 seats) 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, a trombonist turned co-producer and co-musical director, Corinne Kessel, new concepts and designs, and a smaller, more portable 3-piece band. 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, filling the Harry Du Jur Playhouse (350 seats) for the entire run. (“Best Production” went to a then unknown Urinetown). This production defined November Theatre as an ensemble of like-minded artists who wish to create dynamic pieces with a unique theatrical language through heightened text, stylized movement and rockin’ tunes.
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, another extended run at The Roxy Theatre, while taking home several statues including “Best Fringe Production” at the Edmonton Sterling Awards (please visit our awards page [LINK] for the full list of all our recognitions).
In late 2004 and early 2005, with the approval and praise of Tom Waits and Robert Wilson, the show jumped out of the Fringe 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).
After this tour, November Theatre took home more awards including “Best Production” at both the Sterling Awards (Edmonton) and the Betty Awards (Calgary).
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 Vancouver Jessie Awards: "Best Production (Large Theatre)" among other nominations.
And finally the show was retired in the fall of 2008 after a six week sold out run at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. This final run was nominated for “Best Touring Production” at the Dora Awards (the award went to the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch).
This made Canadian theatre history as The Black Rider became the only show to have ever been honoured at the Jessie Awards (Vancouver), the Betty Mitchell Awards (Calgary), the Sterling Awards (Edmonton) and the Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Toronto).
In September 2008 November Theatre Society is formed in Vancouver, BC.
Michael Scholar, Jr.
Michael Scholar, Jr.
Board of Directors
Ilena Lee Cramer - President
Arts Administrator, Independent Theatre Designer and Director
Jackie Ross - Vice-President
JRoss Retail and Hospitality Recruiters
Chris Loosley - Treasurer
Lodestar Financial Services Ltd.
Corinne Kessel - Director
Owner and Principal, Greenscape Design and Decor