For real. I admit it. I have a theatre crush and her name is Bretta Gerecke.
I just got home from Elephant Wake at The Cultch and it was incredible. The script and performance by Joey Tremblay are both outstanding. Tonight, I stayed for the talk-back and he talked about the use of voice throughout the piece. His character is old yet remains stunted in youth so one moment he will be telling a story of his youth and then on a dime be reliving it in the moment as a 7-year old. His performance is truly captivating. I laughed and I’m not just saying this, I cried. Tears literally rolled down my face. It is not often that a play and a performance will affect me so strongly that I will shed actual tears. So, if you have a chance to see this piece I suggest you get down to The Cultch before Saturday. And, if you are financially strapped they even have a 2-for-1 tonight and for the Saturday matinee (at least that is what the front of house guy said in his speech).
Ok, now back to my crush. Ms. Gerecke was also the director & designer of Elephant Wake (making that yet another reason you should go check it out) and yet again her sense of aesthetic just blows my mind. The set was all a reflection of the meaning behind the character’s connection to papier mache (you’ll have to see it to fully understand what I’m talking about). The floor is made up of shredded paper. Every box, stool, prop is in a muted palette of white and off-white. His costume is a mixture of light greys and cream colours like that of an old newspaper. Every detail is accounted for. And, this is what I find absolutely amazing about her work.
Jerry Wasserman was right when he called this “the Bretta Gerecke season”. For me it started with Nevermore went through to Drowning Girls and now Elephant Wake. And every time it is the same thing. The same sense of aesthetic. It’s clean. And, not in the bacterial sense of the word but in the sense that nothing is out of place. Take the Drowning Girls: 3 white bathtubs, 3 white Edwardian wedding dresses, a white grid on the floor and minimal props like 3 laminated old newspapers (the laminated part so they wouldn’t get wet. There was lots of water. Lots). It’s contemporary in the same way that Nevermore was yet it re-calls a different time period without being a "period piece". And, I would say the same thing about Elephant Wake. It’s an aesthetic. And, it’s purely her own.
Then through a series of events (ok, ok, I google-stalked her. Don’t judge me. I am sure everyone who reads this has google-stalked someone at some point) I found out she also designed the sets for two of my favourite recent productions: Rigoletto with the Vancouver Opera and True Love Lies at Factory Theatre. And, on that note, I just want to say: Bretta, if you ever happen to come across my blog and read this post about me having a crush on you. I apologize. I’m not crazy. I swear.
Now two more things, I want to note, before I wrap up this ode to all things Bretta: 1) All 3 of these productions (Nevermore, Drowning Girls & Elephant Wake) originated in Edmonton. Again, what is it with this place?! The stuff that comes out of there is theatre at it’s best and 2) I am extremely impressed with the programming at The Cultch this year. Three of the best productions I have seen this season (Any Night, Nevermore and, now, Elephant Wake) have all been gifted to us here in Vancouver via The Cultch. So, kudos to Heather Redfern, Executive Director at The Cultch, for bringing all of this amazing theatre to us. I’m thinking I might just buy myself a subscription for next year.