Good Question. And one that was recently asked in the comments section to my post Damn This Poster is Hot. In the comment it seems that the writer is raising two questions:
a) How does this play speak to our target audience (18-35)?
b) How is the play relevant today?
The beauty of theatre (and of life) is that it is subjective. You might think one thing about a play and/or production and I may think another. Both may be right. Both may be wrong.
From the tone of the comment, I would gather (and that is the down side about anything on the internet where a conversation ensues, whether it be email, twitter or a blog, tone is inferred) the writer is not the biggest fan of “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love”. So be it.
I, however, think it is a great play but I’ve only ever read the play. I’ve never seen a production of the play or the film so I’m not sure what another director’s/producer’s take on the play might be. I only know what I think based on the text.
And based on the text, it is a play well suited to a “twenty-something” crowd. David, the lead character is turning 30 (Kane asks David “how old are you anyways?” David replies “Thirty in a few months”, pg 18) and Kane, another lead, is 17 (Benita states “He’s only 17”. David replies “he told me he was 18”. Benita “He lied”, pg 33). Now, I’m not going to go through the rest of the script and provide factual, text–based evidence for the rest of the 5 characters because that would be just plain boring for you, the reader.
But as producer/director of this play, I’ve done the work and I can safely say that the rest of the 5 characters fall within that 18-35 range; however, even if they didn’t, I don’t see the problem. As long as it is a play that deals with the issues of our time and generation then my requirement is met which brings me to back to the second part of the question.
How is it relevant today? I believe (and, again, just my opinion) that the issues that this play deals with in terms of things like identity and violence are as relevant today as they were when Brad Fraser first wrote the play. Universally, the question of identity - who we are or think we are - is something we all struggle with regardless of age because our identity is continually evolving. Who we think we are now is not going to be the same as who we think we are five years from now.
More specifically this play deals with sexual identity and the differing ways in which the characters deal with that. Now, I could write a whole blog post on this issue alone but already this post is getting long so I won’t. All I will say is that in the past 5 years, I have gone from 24 to 29, and I know 2 friends personally who have struggled with this issue. That is as relevant as it gets.
As for the violence in the play: all we have to do is turn on our television and/or read a newspaper and we can all see the relevance. Specifically at one of our early meetings, Jergus (the Scenic & Lighting Designer) and I were actually discussing the relevance of this play in correlation to the current news regarding the woman who was brutally murdered while jogging in Pacific Spirit Park. Just Google it and you’ll see article upon article regarding this story. (There is a very good article you can read at Vancouver Magazine regarding this woman, her life and the mystery behind her murder, if you are interested). This just happened in April of 2009. As current as it gets.
However, it is the job of the director to bring this relevancy out in the production of the play. Have other productions been successful? I don’t know I’ve never seen them. I only know that when I tell most people we are doing this play, their comment is either a) wow, I love that play or b) wow, that is brave.
It is not an “easy” piece of theatre but I look forward to the challenge. I hope to bring Vancouver audiences a fresh perspective on a great piece of Canadian theatre. You’ll just have to come see it to find out.