Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bridge Mix

To quote a friend (ok, ok, that friend is Simon from The Next Stage. I can’t help it if he’s always got the best lines) -- “we aren’t just promoting our own shows we are promoting an industry” -- which is precisely why, now that Twenty-Something’s latest show has closed, I am happy to promote another young company in town. That company is ITSAZOO and their upcoming project Bridge Mix. And, something tells me from the Q&A I did with ITSAZOO’s Co-Artistic Director and General Manager, Chelsea Haberlin, this is exactly the same idea behind Bridge Mix.

Chelsea, where did the idea for Bridge Mix come from?

Last year Enlightenment Theatre and ITSAZOO decided we wanted to collaborate on a project. This got us thinking about the idea of working with lots of other young companies and the importance of these collaborations. It began as ‘A Hive of our own’ but has transitioned in to something very unique. In order for young companies to survive we need to work together – share resources, funding and creativity. We believe this is the way to survive and Bridge Mix is the beginning.

So, then, tell me a little bit about each of the companies and how you got them involved in the project.

The really intriguing thing about this show is that the companies involved have been around anywhere from 6 months to 10 years and all have very different mandates and objectives.

Slam Ink is a cooperative that came into being last fall. They have a focus on writers and develop new comedic works for production as means of providing opportunities and experiences to actors, writers, directors, etc. The members of Slam Ink went to university with the co-artistic directors of ITSAZOO and this seemed like a great opportunity to showcase this exciting new company.

Tigermilk Collective
has been collaborating since 2004 and were incorporated in 2006. They are a group of women who tell their own collectively created stories and those of their heroes. They are a unique and determined company. They have proven themselves to have sticking power in the Vancouver Theatre scene and were an ideal addition as one of the more established companies in the group.

Peter n’ Chris is a comedy duo made up of Chris Wilson and Peter Carlone. They got their start last summer when they created a show that they presented at both the Victoria and Vancouver Fringe Festivals. The shows were extremely well received and Peter n’ Chris will be touring with the Fringe again this summer. Peter and Chris went to UVic with the Co-Artistic directors of ITSAZOO and were asked to join Bridge Mix because of their unique brand of humour and so that they could have a chance to work out some new material.

Upintheair Theatre
has been around since 2000. Over the past ten years they have developed a reputation for creating original contemporary theatre. They are committed to creating thought-provoking performances in a rigorous physical environment, to fostering positive ensemble work, and to a populist theatre, which is accessible to as wide an audience as possible while still pushing artistic boundaries. They are also the founders and producers of the Walking Fish Festival. Their company has a great deal of knowledge and experience and so it was a no brainer to include them.

Spectral Theatre
was founded in 2002 and is dedicated to producing dynamic theatrical works which awaken the imagination and challenge the mind. They are a tireless company with a project always on the go. They have a remarkable space on the east side and are incredibly dedicated to their craft. I worked on a show with them last fall and was inspired to invite them to be a part of Bridge Mix because of the energy and enthusiasm they brought to everything they did.

SNAFU Dance Theatre is a company based out of Victoria. It is run by an amazing young woman named Ingrid Hansen. SNAFU creates performances inspired by Viewpoints, Butoh, found object puppety, storytelling, clown, ritual, fables, politics, children, history and lore. Ingrid expressed an interest in the site specific and collaborative nature of Bridge Mix and was invited to join.

Genus Theatre began in 2003 as a group of theatre artists who wanted to create original and exciting productions that incorporated both live theatre and integrated video shorts. When Tigermilk was invited to be a part of Bridge Mix they suggested Genus as a participating company. I had seen a show of theirs and was super excited about the idea of having them on board because what they create is hilarious and really inventive.

All of these young companies under one roof (or parkade) sounds amazing! Paint us a picture of what you hope this experience will be like for the audience.

It will be really fun and unique. The audience moves from scene to scene. It is unpredictable and hilarious. It is thought provoking and surprising. There is a roving bar so you can drink at any point in the evening. It will be a casual night filled with laughter, creativity and beer!

Pretty much anything that has a roving bar is already awesome in my books. Does ITSAZOO have a specific audience in mind when you produce a project like this?

Anyone and everyone. Ideally this show will bring out people in their late teens to late thirties – a demographic that rarely attends live theatre. By taking theatre out of a traditional playhouse and making it more of an informal event we hope to attract this audience. Having said that, this show will be fun for anyone who likes innovative theatre.

And finally, if you had one piece of advice that you would give to other young companies just starting out, what would it be?

You need to be persistent. It’s hard and it will probably always be hard. Find other like-minded individuals and work with them as much as possible. Find strong mentors and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do the work you love – don’t worry about conforming to what’s come before. Apply for funding as soon as possible and don’t stop applying until you are getting as much money as you need to create great work. Thank everyone - a lot! Hire a publicist and Facebook, Twitter and Blog your face off. Again, be persistent. Producing theatre is not for the faint of heart.

Bridge Mix opens this coming Thursday, May 6th and runs through until May 8th and then again from May 11th – 15th. There will be a pay-what-you-can preview on Wednesday, May 5th. All performances take place at the Metro Parkade, 1070 W Pender. Tickets are $14 - $18 and are available online or cash only at the door. Parking will be available in the parkade for $5 and you are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

(Photos courtesy of Rebecca Coleman)

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

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