If You Love Theatre, You’ll Love “Slings and Arrows”

Can’t find a good book to read this summer? How about this: microwave a bag of popcorn, curl up on the couch, and catch up on episodes of the fabulous TV series, Slings and Arrows? What? You’ve never heard of Slings of Arrows?

Showered with awards and critical acclaim, Slings and Arrows is an exceptionally well crafted, beautifully nuanced and wonderfully smart Canadian TV series about the outrageous misfortunes of a highly dysfunctional — and hilariously entertaining — theater company, exposing the high drama, scorching battles, and electrifying thrills that happen behind the scenes. It is very smart, very funny, very touching and far superior to anything you’ll ever see on American TV.

And it’s about the theatre! Anyone who loves theatre or has worked for any kind of non-profit arts organization (is there any other kind of arts organization?) will love this series. You’ll laugh out loud and it will bring tears to your eyes. Lots of laughs; a great look into the workings – creative and political – of a big-time Shakespeare theatre company losing it’s soul to commercialism and the talented madman who might turn it around.

“Deliciously written” —TV GUIDE

“Big and powerful, a corker” —LOS ANGELES TIMES

“Charming and complex and lovely” —THE NEW YORK TIMES

Here’s the brilliant part: each season of the TV series is dedicated to one “season” of the fictitious theatre company as they struggle to mount a production of Shakespeare: season one is “Hamlet”, season two is “Macbeth”, and season three “King Lear”.

The blackly comic series first aired on Canada’s Movie Central and The Movie Network channels in 2003, and received acclaim in the United States when it was shown on the Sundance Channeltwo years later. Three seasons of six episodes each were filmed in total, with the final season airing in Canada in the summer of 2006 and in the United States in early 2007.

Slings and Arrows was created and written by former The Kids in the Hall member Mark McKinney, playwright and actress Susan Coyne, and comedian Bob Martin, the Tony-award winning co-creator of The Drowsy Chaperone. All three appear in the series as well. The entire series was directed by Peter Wellington.

Paul Gross (Due South) stars as Geoffrey Tennant, the passionate but unstable artistic director of the New Burbage Theatre Festival. Haunted by the ghost of his predecessor (Stephen Ouimette), he struggles to realize his creative vision while handling touchy actors, a jittery general manager (Mark McKinney), a pretentious guest director (Don McKellar) and his own tempestuous romance with the festival’s leading lady (Martha Burns). The backstage bedlam mirrors the onstage angst as Geoffrey directs three of Shakespeare’s masterpieces — HamletMacbeth and King Lear — one in each season. Guest stars include Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers), Colm Feore (Chicago), Sarah Polley (GoThe Sweet Hereafter), and renowned Stratford Festival actor William Hutt in one of his last performances.

The entire collection (all 3 seasons) is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, on Amazon and NetFlix. Start at the beginning! The first episode! You’ll get hooked! Warning: it’s addictive, you can’t stop watching. Makes a great gift for your favorite theater lover.

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