It all takes work

Janis La Couvee's Art Smarts column honours all the hard work that goes into a theatre production

Victoria audiences are fortunate indeed to have an abundance of new work to choose from. In March and April, three companies–Atomic Vaudeville, Impulse Theatre and Broken Rhythms–will present the latest iterations of BlissKrieg, the Dream Collectors and Universal Horrors.

Most people would never consider looking at a house and thinking that it arrived, pre-formed, on the site, yet if you asked them how long it took to craft a show, the answer might surprise.

Atomic Vaudeville is now on the third version of a piece originally titled Action Revue—now BlissKrieg.  The collaborative team includes founders Britt Small and Jacob Richmond as well as frequent contributors Alex Waslenko, Hank Pine and a host of actors who have been giving shape to radical ideas that reflect the current zeitgeist.  Over the course of the past three years they played physically, produced two shows, wrote scenes and music, and then applied for a Kevin Spacey Foundation grant and approached the Belfry Theatre for production assistance.  (BlissKrieg is part of the 2017 Spark Festival, March 9-11).  Small and Wlasenko estimate that by the time this musical comedy hits the stage everyone involved will have devoted over 450 hours in development. Inside a “post-human simulated paradise, Tilda and her daughter Jingwei have just over an hour to make a crucial decision on the future of life in the universe”. Based on Atomic Vaudeville’s track record, established since 2004 with its cabaret series (the 75th cabaret is April 13, 14, 15 at the Victoria Event Centre), and shows Ride the Cyclone and Legoland, this will be a hot ticket. Belfry.bc.ca

Now in its seventh season, Impulse Theatre, established in 2010 by Andrew Barrett while still a student at the University of Victoria, has an impressive history of physically based performance, often staged in early years in-site specific locations dotted around the region.  The Dream Collectors has been in development since 2014; it began as a small ten minute segment at Intrepid Theatre’s Theatre Under the Gun, where teams of four people work for 48 hours to present a new work.  Barrett then received an early career development grant from the BC Arts Council and worked with mentor Britt Small and a team of artists.  They entered Theatre Under the Gun again in spring 2016 and further developed the piece with a weeklong workshop and presentation in June of last year.  Dream Collectors is devised physical theatre that incorporates elements of dance and puppetry; it follows three beings who have been collecting the dreams of humanity forever.  Impulse Theatre will build the latest version of the show in three solid weeks of rehearsal, incorporating elements from previous performances. April 19-22 at the Intrepid Theatre Club.  Impulsetheatre.ca

Broken Rhythms was founded in 2011 by Dyana Sonik-Henderson to accommodate the innovative style rhythmical contemporary, which combines jazz, contemporary, Hip Hop, and animalistic influences. Earlier work by the company benefitted from presentations at Intrepid Theatre’s YOU Show and the Victoria Fringe Festival where it won successive Pick of the Fringe awards. People remember the dancers for the fantastic eyelashes they wear—a very successful bit of marketing. Their latest work, Universal Horrors is based on classic horror movies from the golden age—Dracula, Phantom of the Opera and Wolf Man. Development included hours of watching films and then creating movements based on them.  A snippet of the show was presented at the LashBash Fundraiser last summer, and then another at Impulse Theatre’s Peek Show of new works in November.  Sonik-Henderson estimates it takes a minimum of nine hours work—in developing concepts, choreographing movements and researching music—for every minute onstage.  Following a run at The Roxy Theatre, March 15th-19th, Broken Rhythms heads to the Toronto Fringe in July. Brokenrhythmsvictoria.com

 

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