Sunday, December 9, 2012

AUDITIONS: Speech & Debate

Twenty Something Theatre is holding auditions for its fall 2013 production of Stephen Karam's Speech & Debate, playing Oct. 2-12 at Studio 1398. It will be directed by Associate Artistic Producer Brian Cochrane.

Here is the Dramatists Play Service writeup: "Three teenage misfits in Salem, Oregon discover they are linked by a sex scandal that's rocked their town. When one of them sets out to expose the truth, secrets become currency, the stakes get higher, and the trio's connection grows deeper in this searching, fiercely funny dark comedy with music."

 The roles we are casting:

 Solomon - Sixteen year-old male who wants to be a journalist.

 Diwata - Seventeen year-old female who wants to be a musical theatre superstar.

 Howie - Eighteen year-old male who just wants to get through the school year.

All actors will be asked to perform one contemporary monologue and one song, unaccompanied. No previous singing experience required. Your monologue and song together should not exceed five minutes in length.

Auditions will take place January 12, 2013 at the Alliance for Arts & Culture - #100 – 930 Howe Street in Vancouver.

Please submit with resume and headshot to brian[at]twentysomethingtheatre[dot]com. Only those selected for an audition will be contacted.

Deadline to submit is 6:00pm on Saturday, December 22, 2012.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2013 Season Announcement

After 2011 - a three show season - as Artistic Producer I decided to pare back and concentrate on the development of the organizational infrastructure that will allow this company to take the necessary steps to becoming one of Vancouver's new wave of established independent professional theatre companies.

In our 2012 season we co-produced one production, The Bomb-itty of Errors, and had another, Us & Everything We Own, in development. Small, simple but extremely successful.

And, with 2 Jessie awards and 4 nominations under our belt and the addition of an Associate Artistic Producer, I think it is safe to say we are well on our way towards achieving the goals set out for the company...

WORLD PREMIERE: Us & Everything We Own by Sean Minogue 
April 4 -13, 2013: PAL Studio Theatre

“Minogue is a promising writer. Those don't show up every day” – Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

Directed by Sabrina Evertt. Featuring Adam Lolacher, Julie McIsaac, Genevieve Fleming & Jason Clift

From the playwright who brought you Prodigals comes a brand new play about a young man whose hunger to be successful threatens his relationships with those he cares about. Blurring the lines between friends and business, he gets in over his head in an investment scheme and discovers how much he’s truly been risking.  

Speech & Debate by Stephen Karam
October 2 – 12, 2013: Studio 1398

“A triumph… hilarious… cliché-free, and immensely entertaining” – The New York Times

Directed by Brian Cochrane. Casting: TBA

A fiercely funny dark comedy about three teenage misfits who discover they are linked by a local sex scandal. When you’re living in the blurry world between adolescence and adulthood, sometimes music and time travel are your only friends.

With that I give you our 2013 season.

There will be no Spotlight production this coming year but it will return in our 2014 season with a new local playwright taking centre stage once again. One new play development at a time is about all we can handle. And, our annual summer production is moving to a new time slot in October and we hope you'll move with us into the fall and join us for Brian's first project with Twenty Something Theatre.

It is sure to be an exciting year and we look forward to sharing it with you in 2013. Coming soon: Audition details for Speech & Debate so stay tuned....

Until then, 
~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, November 23, 2012

Three Reasons

Our Season Launch Party is just around the corner and while I know you don't need a reason to party because - c'mon, who doesn't love a good party?! - I'm still going to give you 3 extra awesome reasons why you should come party with us:

1. This past year has been a big year for this little company. The Bomb-itty of Errors by Jordan Allen-Dutton, et al – a co-production with Temporary Thing – was not only nominated for 4 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards including Outstanding Production & Outstanding Direction but went on to win for Outstanding Costume Design & Significant Artistic Achievement – Outstanding Ensemble Performance with Music & Live DJ. To be included in the same category as such phenomenal works as Electric Company's All the Way Home, Horseshoe & Handgrenades/Pacific Theatre's Re:Union, Arts Club's Craigslist Cantata and Firehall's Chelsea Hotel is a great, great honour. One that we want to celebrate with all of you.

2. As you may have heard Twenty Something Theatre has a newly appointed Associate Artistic Producer, Brian Cochrane. He is one of the co-producer's for The Bomb-itty of Errors and won his first Jessie as part of the ensemble. It is an exciting partnership and we look forward to announcing his first project with Twenty Something Theatre at the party. So, you'll need to be there to hear about it first. It's pretty darn great.

 (Brian accepting the award for Outstanding Ensemble at the Jessie's this past June with Niko & Dave in the back. Missing is Jameson who was in Toronto at the time.)

3. It's been a bit of a tough year in this city for theatre with the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company closing its doors. We seem to have gotten a bad reputation for our Arts & Culture going under. But what better way to show ourselves, and each other, that theatre is alive and well in this city then by getting together to celebrate our achievements in support of each other?! We have a great theatre community. Let's celebrate that.

So, after a shorter year and a 6 month hiatus, Twenty Something Theatre is back, refreshed and ready to start kicking some more theatre ass. Metaphorically. We are very excited to bring you a great 2013 season and we hope that all of you will come out to be the first to hear the announcement and help us celebrate all of our achievements: past, present & future.

Tickets and information can be found here:

On behalf of Brian, and myself, we look forward to seeing you all there!!
 ~Sabrina Evertt,
 Artistic Producer

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's a Party!!!

Noun: A social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment.

And…that pretty much covers it right there. Twenty Something Theatre is throwing a party and you are all invited. A Season Launch Party.

There will be FREE food.

There will be a CASH ONLY bar. ALL DRINKS $4. Cheap booze is awesome and for that we have to thank the wonderful folks at Legacy Liqour Store as well as Stanley Park Brewing and Mission Hill Winery.

There will be ENTERTAINMENT:

Comedian DAN WILLOWS will provide us with a stand-up comedy/improv set for us to all get our guffaws on.

The seriously talented band from STATIONARY: A RECESSION ERA MUSICAL will be performing a set.

And, the sultry and sexy guys and gals from Vancouver’s live cabaret show THE TRUE HEROINES will be also be taking the stage to sizzle things up.

PLUS somewhere in the midst of all that eating, drinking and entertaining, we’ll be announcing our upcoming 2013 season.  

UPDATE: DJ OKER (yes, the DJ for The Bomb-itty of Errors) will be spinning the tunes from 10pm-12am so that we can DANCE the night away.


WHERE: CBC Studio 700 at 700 Hamilton Street

WHEN: November 26, 2012. Doors for this EPIC night of fun will open at 7:30. Entertainment to start at 8:30.

[PS. That’s a Monday y’all. A DARK NIGHT for us theatre people. So NO EXCUSES. Be there. AND, if you have to work the next day, the entertainment will be done early enough for you to get home and tucked into bed by 11pm. So, once again, NO EXCUSES.]

HOW: Tickets are ONLY $8 (including service fees) in ADVANCE.

[PPS. So it beehooves (yes, I said “behooves”) you to buy your tickets early. I know you all can do it. It’s as easy as clicking the fancy little widget thingymabober right below. Yes, I did just use “behooves” and “thingymabober” in the same paragraph]

Brown Paper Tickets Ticket Widget Loading...

Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.

Tickets ON THE DAY OR AT THE DOOR are $10 CASH ONLY. Still SUPER cheap because we WANT you to come party with us.

It’s gonna be an EPIC fun night and to get you excited and in the mood for a little PARTY...

See you all there!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Blood

Back in June, before I went on my 3-month break from all things work related, I hinted at an exciting announcement about a welcome addition to the artistic management team of Twenty Something Theatre.

For the past 7 seasons I have largely been running the company on my own - which has been fine - however in order for the organization to continue to grow and expand the time has come to bring some new blood to the company. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the new Associate Artistic Producer of Twenty Something Theatre:

Brian Cochrane is very pleased to be joining Twenty Something Theatre as Associate Artistic Producer.

Recently Brian was a lyricist and performer in Delinquent Theatre's Stationary (2012 Neanderthal Arts Festival), assistant director on King John (Bard on the Beach), and producer and performer in The Bomb-itty of Errors (Twenty Something/Temporary Thing). Other credits include directing Home Free! (Staircase XI), East of Berlin (Know Tomorrow Theatre, Saskatoon), and the Canadian Premiere of Love/Stories (Kinetichism). In the November 2012 he will be directing The December Man (Fire In The Hole, Saskatoon).

Brian holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Saskatchewan and an MFA in Directing from the University of British Columbia. He holds them every night.

Many of you will know Brian from Twenty Something Theatre's co-production with Temporary Thing of the The Bomb-itty of Errors this past April.

The company is fortunate to have Brian on board and I am very much looking forward to working with him. He will direct his first production for Twenty Something Theatre in our 2013 season which we look forward to announcing to you in November at our 2013 Season Launch Party (or, as I like to refer to it, Just A Reason to Party, Party). Details for that to come soon, I promise.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bona Fide Break

Well folks it is June 1st today which means that my time-out/leave of absence from Twenty Something Theatre officially begins today.

It’s been 7 seasons of theatre that was recently capped off with The Bomb-itty of Errors being nominated for 4 Jessie Richardson Awards including Outstanding Production, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Artistic Achievement for the ensemble and Outstanding Costume Design.

Wow, what a ride it’s been!

But, it’s definitely time for a bit of break so I’m taking the summer off completely. Not the sort-of kind-of break I took last summer. But a real bona fide break.

From June 1st thru to September 3rd:

I WILL NOT be sitting in front of my computer for hours on end writing grants, budgeting, emailing, drafting spreadsheets, etc, etc, etc.

I WILL be doing any number of these activities:
-learning to play the guitar
-soaking up the sun
-taking road trips

Then as of September 4th I’ll be back in town and directing & designing for an exciting project outside of Twenty Something with a group of talented artists with whom I am looking forward to working with very much.

Lois Dawson brought me a script over a year ago and said “read this!”. From there a collaboration was formed. That script is The Mistakes Madeline Made by Elizabeth Merriwether. It is the weirdest, funniest, most awkward yet touching play I’ve read in a long time and I’m so excited to be working with such a wonderfully talented group of actors. Those actors are (in alphabetical order): David Kaye (@Whiskaye_Films), Jesse Martyn (@jessemartyn), Deb Pickman (@shamelesshussy), Tara Pratt (@tarakjpratt) and Colby Wilson (@ColbyWilson). When we got together to decide on a Co-Op name this very funny group of people made me laugh until I was afraid my side might split open. That name would be Handiwipe Caper Equity Co-Op. Don’t ask just come see the show in the fall. Trust me, it will all make sense then.

So you’ll all just have to keep your eyes peeled on Lois’ blog or the above noted twitter handles for more info as it unfolds because I, my friends, am going radio silent for the next 3 months. No twitter, no blog, nada. Someone exclaimed to me the other day “You’re like the Twitter queen!!” and just previous to that another friend had said recently “I always know what you’re doing from Twitter!”

Wow, that’s just bonkers. Because really, I started blogging and using twitter as part of my job to promote Twenty Something and somehow it has taken over my life a little bit. And, that’s really not me at all. This kind of explains perfectly how I feel about it all:  

“In our technology crazed world, we’ve confused being communicative with feeling connected. Just because we’re plugged in, doesn’t mean we feel seen and heard” – Brene Brown (who has given some of the best TED talks out there. Do yourself a favour and watch them.)

So I’m going backwards in time - to a pre-twitter, blogging and facebook time - when quality time with people meant more than a text message here and there or a facebook comment or an @reply. You know what I’m talking about.

I hope you all have an amazing summer and I’ll see you back here on the blog, twitter and all the rest of it, in the fall. After that Twenty Something operations will back up and running fully starting in November when we’ll announce our upcoming 2013 season and a few other exciting new developments that may or may not include a welcome addition to the artistic management of Twenty Something.

And with that season-ending cliffhanger I will sign off and say…

Cheers and thank you for an amazing 7 seasons!!

~Sabrina Evertt
 Artistic Producer

Monday, April 16, 2012

Carousel: Jason & The Argonauts

On Saturday I was invited to Carousel Theatre’s presentation of Visible Fictions Jason and the Argonauts based on the Greek myth where the men sail off in search of the Golden Fleece. A tall tale wherein 40 men (or up to 55 depending what source you look at) board the ship Argos and overcome obstacles like the Clashing Rocks and a great dragon that guards the Golden Fleece. Visible Fictions take this myth and uses the convention of a merry band of two travelling storytellers complete with wooden cart and tickle trunk to tell us this tale.

The two actors – Simon Donaldson & Tim Settle – take on all the characters of this story including the Argonauts with the help of 5 or 6 plastic Ken dolls, a spiderman figurine and a great hulking figurine which is, as you can probably guess, is Hercules. The cleverest moment in the performance is when the wooden cart turns into a sailboat right in front of your very eyes. In the moment the actors joke about how they are up there sweating up a storm yet the set change gets all the applause. Well, all joking aside, this set reveal did deserve the applause it received. Designed by Robin Peoples this set piece is relatively simple and yet extremely imaginative. Later on towards the end of the performance the wooden cart – after it’s done being a sailboat – divides into two pieces where yet another set/prop/costume piece is revealed. The actor puts on the piece, turns a knob and suddenly there is air being blown into the piece creating a gigantic dragon’s tail.

The two actors not only played all the male roles but also the female roles such has Hera and Medea. One of the cutest moments of the afternoon came when one of the actors was playing Medea and I hear a voice shouting from behind me saying “but he’s a boy!!!” You can’t fool kids, right?! But this was the whole point from the beginning of the performance. The folks at Visible Fictions don’t try to fool the kids into thinking the actors are every character. Instead they set it up from the beginning that these men on stage – the actors – are storytellers and that they are there to tell us a tale.

And, this convention had the kids engaged. The little boy in front of kept giggling and laughing quite loudly and was on his feet at the end. I’m doubtful he knows what a “standing ovation” is so the fact that this little boy was so engaged he leapt to his feet at the end, well, that’s a cause for celebration.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love to see kids engaged in theatre. When we’re talking about building future audiences and theatregoers it brings a smile to my face to see kids so engaged in theatre and storytelling.

Visible Fiction’s Jason and the Argonauts plays at the Watefront Theatre until April 28th. You can get more information or buy tickets at the Carousel Theatre website:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Coffee Talk with Niko Koupantsis

Well, you've now met all four of the Bomb-itty boys except for one: Meet Niko Koupantsis. He is fairly new to Vancouver moving here from Saskatchewan where he performed in The Bomb-itty of Errors for the first time 6 years ago. This will be his Vancouver theatrical debut and all I can say is "Welcome to Vancouver Niko!" because he is a supremely talented, genuinely nice guy and we can never have too many of those in this city.

(Niko [on the left] arriving in Vancouver)

What is your favourite role to date and why?

I would have to say my favourite role was when I first took on The Bomb-itty of Errors 7 years ago. I had just finished my third year of University and was given the amazing opportunity to take on the challenge of such an epic piece. Not only was I faced with the task of developing multiple characters and learning how to rap (a daunting task to those completely foreign to it), but my fellow castmates and I were also responsible for making props and costumes, as well as contacting the local media and promoting the show. It was great training for learning how to run your own theatre company. I would say the only experience that tops that one is doing this show again now. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with such a talented and lovely group of people. We spend so much time making each other laugh, and I can’t wait to share that with our audiences. 

Tell us your “I wanna be an actor” story…

I’m not sure exactly when I was bitten by the bug. I have had the personality of an entertainer since I was really young and learned that I could use humour to fit in, a technique I use everyday to varying degrees of success. I was always in a school play, with one of my first roles being that of a garbage man in a musical about recycling, and yes I still remember the song. Whatever the initial spark was, today I want to be an actor because I love to tell stories and show audiences things they didn’t know about themselves or maybe forgot. And I love love love to make people laugh. 

 (Niko trying to return buns to the grocery store!)

How many characters do you play in Bombitty and what’s your favourite one?

I play five characters in total, and my favorite character to play is Luciana. Maybe it’s because I get to wear an amazing dress and incredible wig and blondes really do have more fun, or maybe it’s because I get to rock dance moves that are meant for the ladies and which I excel at for some reason, or maybe it’s because she isn’t the smartest girl you’ve ever met and ignorance truly is bliss. If I was to get mushy about it, I would say it’s because she has a very innocent and bright outlook on life, and although she is a little slow she will do anything she can to help those she cares about. Whatever it is, she will always be dear to my heart. 

I'm not gonna lie. Luciana is probably my favourite character in the whole show. She cracks me up and her song is downright catchy! So other than to see Luciana, why should people come out to see the The Bomb-itty of Errors?

There are way too many reasons why people should come to see this show. The costumes are freaking amazing, thanks to the genius of Vanessa Imeson, and cannot be missed. The music is 100% original, from the stylings of Anami Vice, who isn’t only a very talented hip hop artist but also a gentleman and a scholar. We have DJ Oker Chen to mix the music live and keep things fresh. The whole thing was directed by the lovely and amazing Catriona Leger of whom I have become a big fan over these past few weeks. My fellow castmates are dangerously hilarious and intentionally talented, yes intentionally, that is a thing now, I just made that a thing, because I don’t know how else to describe how great they are to watch and work with. And while I would never condone reckless intoxication, there will be a bar and you can drink during the show. And last but certainly not least, people need to come see this show because of me and my wicked awesome dance moves. Also I am offering free hugs after each show. What else could you ask for? 

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring young actors, those just starting a training program or going to their first audition, what would it be?

My first piece of advice: work hard and be humble. They say that success as an actor is 20% talent and 80% hard work, and they are right. There isn’t really a measuring system for talent anyway, and it won’t be long before a director thinks you are just being lazy and your castmates think you are a jerk. You can never be too prepared. Make choices about your character before you rehearse and audition, and study the script well, good scripts hold all the answers. And make bold and interesting choices whenever possible, they are much more enjoyable for an audience to watch. My second piece of advice for the aspiring young actor would be not to allow yourself to be discouraged. There may be a million other actors auditioning for the same role, but you are the only one exactly like you. Always remember that you have something unique to offer that no one else does, so let that star shine. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always live in your parents basement. That has always been my fail safe. 

Great advice! Thanks for sharing Niko! Catch him and the rest of the Bomb-itty boys starting next Wednesday at Studio 16. More info:

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coffee Talk with David Kaye

At the Bomb-itty fundraiser back in February, David got up on stage and out of nowhere just started rapping. And he killed it. So, as soon as I heard that, I thought to myself "oh, this Bomb-itty show is gonna be good!". His enthusiasm is infectious and from what I've seen he commits to every thing he's doing on stage 110%. He's doing backflips and beatboxing and he's pretty damn funny too!! One of my favourite parts of Bomb-itty is the reggae beat when David is playing Dr. Pinch, a rastafarian doctor. 

(David and his dog MJ)

What is your favourite role to date and why?

I have had many amazing opportunities over the years and I have a hard time just choosing one. In the realm of theatre, I’d have to say either Tybalt in Theatre at UBC’s Romeo and Juliet (also, coincidentally directed by Catriona Leger) or Matt (aka Pig-Pen) in Fighting Chance’s production of Dog Sees God. They were both such fun to play. They were both antagonists, and I just love being an asshole - but they each had a tragic personal reality that made them multi-faceted characters. For Tybalt, I also got to play with daggers and have all sorts of epic stage combat. We got to work through it with Nick Harrison, which is hands down the most fun I’ve had getting beat up. And for Matt, I got to say things and act in a way that is just unacceptable in real life. 

Tell us your “I wanna be an actor” story…

I was almost 4 years old when a film expo came to Vancouver. I went with my mother to see how films were made and to learn all about “Movie Magic”. While we were walking around an agent spotted me and approached my mother. She proceeded to tell us that I could be in movies, gave us her card and arranged a meeting with us for later. Shortly after, I went to my first audition for Legends of the Fall and booked it. I continued to work throughout elementary school as a child actor. When I hit the “tween phase” I broke into voice overs and although I looked too young to play a teenager, and too old to play a child on screen, I could do both for cartoons. By the time I looked old enough to get back in front of the camera, I decided that I wanted to actually learn how to act. So, I took myself off the market and I enrolled in UBC’s BFA Acting program. I graduated in April 2011, and am having a blast doing exactly what I want to do. 

 (That's David on Brad Pitt's shoulders!)

How many characters do you play in Bomb-itty and what’s your favourite one?

One primary, two secondary and two tertiary characters – Dromio of Syracuse, Dr. Pinch, Desdemona, a back-up singer, and a little surprise cameo from – well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise. 

Why should people come out to see the The Bomb-itty of Errors?

There are so many reasons to come and see this show. The costumes are vibrant, the set is fresh, the DJ is not only mixing live, but he’s kinda cute too. Not only is there a bar, but it is open throughout the show. We have a fantastic cast and a phenomenal crew. This is not a show to miss. 

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring young actors, those just starting a training program or going to their first audition, what would it be?

HAVE FUN! When you don’t have fun, it shows. Don’t be afraid to fail, and when you do, you have to be able to let it go. The Magic School Bus’ Ms. Frizzle said it best, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” Don’t forget to enjoy the process. Sometimes you get bogged down with everything that you need to get done, instead of just focusing on what you need to do next. If you have fun and give yourself the freedom to fall flat on your face, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off with a smile on your face and do anything. 

Today David and the rest of the Bomb-itty boys start their last week of rehearsals before we all move into the venue next week! Catch them all on stage starting next Wednesday!! More information at

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Coffee Talk with Catriona Leger

Meet Catriona Leger. She's the woman at the helm of The Bomb-itty of Errors. Prior to our first production meeting I had actually never met the director who was chosen to be the Twenty Something Theatre Spotlight director for 2012. I had heard great things about her from Brian and Jameson and had, of course, heard many great things about her production of Romeo & Juliet at UBC so I was sold; however, getting to see her in action these past few months has been an absolute pleasure. Plus, any women, who can rap a Shakespeare Sonnett, and kill it, is pretty damn awesome in my books.

So Catriona, what is your fondest directing experience and why?

Directing Romeo and Juliet at the Telus Theatre at UBC in 2010. With a cast of 22 actors and a dream production team, this was the largest production I had ever worked on. As the thesis production for my MFA in Directing, R&J was an opportunity to experiment, push boundaries and play with approaches I was testing out, all in an atmosphere that was both supportive and challenging. The show was performed in the round (another first for me) and drew inspiration heavily from Bouffon - a physical approach to theatre where performers adopt elements of grotesque forms and interact with the audience. The concepts I wanted to try out were foreign to a lot of people and made some folks nervous during the planning stage. Personally, I found the idea of directing a show that is so well known, with so many clichés and connotations associated with it, to be extremely daunting – particularly given the number of people who rolled their eyes when I told them what show I was directing. However, everyone on the team was generous, brave and bold in a way that allowed me to honour such a timeless story while at the same time giving the production my own personal twist that, feedback tells me, was delightfully surprising to most audience goers. It’s a show that people still talk about when they meet me and it’s an absolute joy to see their eyes light up when they do. 

And, how did you get into directing?

In the mid-1990’s I earned a BFA in Acting and set out to carve my path as an actor. Back then I was particularly drawn to two forms of theatre – physical and classical – and dreamed of the day when I could somehow combine the two. Somewhere along the way I ended up in Ottawa, where I continue to work a fair bit. When I first arrived there, during a Y2K-induced stint living in a camper van, I took up work with a Company of Fools – a troupe that creates physically-based adaptations of the plays of Shakespeare in the interest of making theatre accessible to all ages and income brackets (my dream come true!). Much of the work I did with The Fools early on was collectively devised. Initially shy about speaking up with my opinions as an actor, through this troupe I began to find my voice as a leader and creator – something very necessary when battling it out with a bunch of loud-mouthed clowns! 

A few years later, in 2004, the Fools invited me to direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream for their “Torchlight Shakespeare” series – a program that tours 90-minute versions of Shakespearean plays with reduced casts around parks in the National Capital region during the summer. It’s an excellent program and a great way to expand audiences by bringing live theatre to suburban areas. This was my first foray into directing and it seemed a fairly safe transition into what at the time was an otherwise daunting task. I adapted the text myself and set out to direct 6 actors in all of the Midsummer’s roles with a very minimal set, simple costumes and a bit of physical comedy. I had no idea what I was doing – I’m pretty sure I just closed my eyes and randomly pointed to where people should go. When the show went up, I was pretty pleased with myself until the one review we had didn’t mention my direction at all and then later, at some point during the run, when a frienemy congratulated me on “such a valiant effort” – ouch! At the end of the summer, the show was the highest grossing production the Fools had ever had and overall the majority of people seemed pretty pleased. Despite that fact, I didn’t try to direct anything again until 2007… I guess the experience traumatized me! 

How would describe your directing style?

Physical. Playful. Cheeky. Alive. I love a spectacle as long as a good story is involved. I first got into theatre because I loved musical theatre as a kid. As a grown-up, I have always been drawn to classical theatre and the circus. Elements of one, two or all three usually manage to make their way into my productions. 

When it comes to rehearsals, I am thorough with my prep and am always ready to throw my pre-rehearsal work out the window in favour of actors’ offers. Actors are smart. I look at what they bring and then try to shape the sharpest, strongest, most specific choices possible. If they don’t know what to do, then I make suggestions based on what I know of the play, the actors’ own strengths, my instincts and personal preference. In addition, I think of the stage as the actors’ playground – I try to open up the actors’ imaginations and free them so that they can play within the structure of the story and ideally create an exciting, memorable theatrical experience. 

The guys in the Bomb-itty cast love to joke that I am a hard ass. For the most part, it’s true - I walk a line between being supportive of what an actor is offering and then pushing them to take their work as far as possible, usually calling them out when they get lazy or safe. There is also a fair amount of fun and games in my rehearsal hall so I don’t think I’m all that strict (but don’t tell the actors that). 

Also, coming from a physical theatre background, it is in my nature to love smooth transitions between scenes - they are always a key component to the shows I direct. I hate blackouts. I love magical moments when the stage transforms before the audience’s eyes. 

Why did you decide to direct Bomb-itty and why should people come out to see the show?

Brian Cochrane and I initially met doing our MFA in Directing degrees at UBC. We became fast friends and almost immediately started talking about collaborating on a project. The question remained… which one? Given our backgrounds, we also wondered which of us would be the actor and who would be the director. I assumed Brian would be the one doing the directing until early last year when Brian brought up the possibility of acting in and producing The Bomb-itty of Errors. He told me that he wanted me to direct. I love Shakespeare – I’ve worked a lot with adapting his works over the years. I also love rap and hip-hop. I was sold. 

(Catriona and Brian making funny faces)

Bomb-itty is an exciting show. A classic tale with a hip-hop flavour told by four very talented, handsome young actors playing 22 characters (with lightening quick changes). The designs are stunning - costumes by Vanessa Imeson, set by Jon Tsang, and original music by Anami Vice. Not to mention a live on stage DJ. The entire Bomb-itty team is made up of emerging artists who have the talent and passion to tear up the theatre scene. This is a team that is going to be around for a long while. Come see what we’re about! 

If you had one piece of advice for young theatre artists aspiring to be directors what would you tell them?

Provided you are working with a good script, all the answers you’ll ever need are right there in the text. Let the words of the play open up your imagination and then trust your instincts. (p.s. Learn the difference between your “instincts” and your “ideas”)

Big thanks to Catriona for sharing with us. Official Opening Night is in two weeks!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coffee Talk II with Jameson Parker

I first met Jameson back in 2010 when he showed up so early for his Prodigals audition that I hadn't even finish setting up yet. I think that right there should tell you something about Mr. Parker. There are not many people I've met in this industry with his amount of initiative, persistence and ambition so it doesn't surprise me one little bit that not even a year out of graduating with his BFA from UBC he has taken on the role of Producer and co-founded a company.

 (Jameson as Greg in our production of Prodigals last year)

Where did the idea come from to produce The Bomb-itty of Errors?  

About a year and a half ago Brian and I were trying to find a project to collaborate on together. We were both finishing up our respective degrees at UBC (his an MFA in directing and mine a BFA in Acting) and we wanted to have something to work on in case no one hired us. Brian brought this piece up because he had done it about 6 or 7 years earlier (with Niko Koupantsis) in Saskatchewan. What really drew me to The Bomb-itty was the fusion of hip-hop and Shakespeare because at the time I had just finished directing my 4th video for Anami Vice and hip-hop was my life outside of the theatre but my role would only ever be behind the camera in the hip-hop world and this play gave me the chance to get up on stage and be the rapper instead of the director. 

What’s it like trying to balance producing and acting?

The balancing hasn’t really been the tough bit about the whole process it actually just gives me another way to keep my head in the production outside of the rehearsal hall. The thing that has been weird is leaving that sense of ownership you feel as a producer at the door and giving complete control to the director. Luckily I don’t worry about the money too much (that’s why we have Sabrina!) so I don’t get stressed when Catriona starts telling us she wants to have a live lion and fire breathers on stilts. I just say yes.

Ha! Well at least we know Jameson can balance tubing and drinking a beer at the same time. That is a set of skills right there. And, moving on, what’s one thing you’ve learned about producing that you wish you would have known before you started?  

I wish I would have known how much space costs in Vancouver. IT’S A LOT!

So, why should people come to see Bomb-itty?  

The number one reason is that this is going to be an experience, not just a night at the theatre. It’s part play, part rap concert and part night out at the bar. We are transforming Studio 16 into its own boutique hip-hop nightclub, where you can get up during the show and grab a beer if you are feeling thirsty and you won’t disrupt the other audience members. But at the same time if you just want to sit and watch the play you can do that too as we have theatre seating as well, I think we have put something cool together there. 

Other than that the costumes are hilarious and awesome, the set is fantastic and the beats are unreal. We just had a rehearsal today where Anami Vice came and and tuned up the music and our rapping and it sounds AWESOME! He is damn good at what he does.

 (Jameson and Anami)

If you had one piece of advice for other young theatre artists who want to produce their own work what would you tell them?

Pick something you really love and give yourself a lot of time. You are going to be spending about a year with this project so if you don’t really love it you are going to get bored very fast. Also don’t try and put something up fast because everything takes a lot longer than you anticipate, give yourself time so you can plan things out properly and if something blows up in your face you have time to fix it. 

Good advice. Up next we're going to be chatting with the director, Catriona Leger, and I'm intrigued to hear from her what its been like working with the Bomb-itty boys up until this point. Something tells me never a dull moment.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Win Free Stuff!!!

Everyone likes to win free stuff, right?! So Twenty Something Theatre and Temporary Thing have decided to give you just that. A chance to win some free awesome stuff. How may you ask?! Well here's the deal:

Buy your tickets to see The Bomb-itty of Errors - which I know you're all planning to do anyways - for the first week of the show, April 5th - 8th (that's 4 nights of options available to you) and get your name entered to win tickets to:

-2 tickets to High Society at the Arts Club or;
-2 tickets to Blue Box at The Cultch or;
-A season's pass for 2 to Theatre at UBC for their 2012-2013 season;

That's three chances to win with the purchase of 1 Ticket PLUS on top of that awesome deal we've also got an EARLY BIRD Deal:

If you buy your tickets to the first week of the show, again Apr 5th - 8th, BEFORE March 29th then you're name will also be entered to win:

-2 tickets to the Saturday, May 19th Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders game.

How awesome is that?! Pre-Buy your tickets to see Bomb-itty - which we know you're going to end up doing anyways because this show is going to be a must see - and win free stuff!!

Sounds like a good deal to me, right?!

And, now you're asking, where might I buy those tickets? That's a very good question. All you have to do is click here: The Bomb-itty of Errors

Thanks for supporting live theatre and good luck!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coffee Talk with Brian Cochrane

Welcome back to our Coffee Talk series! The Bomb-itty of Errors is entering into its second week of rehearsal so I thought I'd kick things off by chatting with Co-Founder Brain Cochrane (and Actor 3) of Temporary Thing and talk about what it's like from both a producing and acting point of view. Most recently Brian graduated from UBC with a MFA in directing but Brian is actually no stranger to starting a theatre company having done so in Saskatoon where he earned a BFA in Acting from the University of Saskatchewan.

 (Brian [centre] in a promo shot for Wild Honey which was his directing thesis at UBC)

So, Brian, what made you want to produce The Bomb-itty of Errors?

Jameson came to me saying we should do a show together. I think we’d been talking about the importance of always having a pet project or something. We eventually agreed on this one. I was originally going to direct this, but fond memories (Niko and I were in the Canadian Premiere of this show in Saskatoon in 2005) led to me deciding I wanted to perform. Catriona’s name immediately sprang to mind as the perfect director. She’s much better suited to directing this piece than I am.

And, what's it like trying to balance producing and acting?

It’s a juggling act. We’re SO LUCKY to have Sabrina and Twenty Something presenting us. Sabrina has kept us on track every step of the way. [Please note: I did not pay him to say this]. This isn’t my first rodeo, I’ve produced five shows with my own company, Skinny Walrus (an obscure footnote of a footnote on Saskatoon theatre history), so I’ve done this dance before. I guess I just don’t learn from my mistakes. It’s great to have people to share the workload.

Speaking of mistakes... What’s one thing you’ve learned about producing that you wish you would have known before you started?

The first time I produced was when I was twenty and I was doing everything by myself. I wrote and performed a solo show called I’m Number Four in the 2004 Saskatoon Fringe Festival. It was about two teenagers who are abducted by aliens and the fallout thereof. A few years later a really crappy-looking movie called I Am Number Four about teenage aliens came out. I wish I’d learned to protect my intellectual property. I’m constantly learning that the most important thing is to just deal with things as they arise. Don’t put them off until later. Stay on top of things and you’ll save time in the long run.

Why should people come to see Bomb-itty?

In no particular order… 
1. Vanessa Imeson’s costume designs are incredible: wigs, dresses, mu-mus – it’s going to look amazing. 
2. Anami Vice’s original music will have every head nodding and every toe tapping. 
3. Catriona Leger’s direction is hilarious and assured. 
4. Jon Tsang has reimagined Studio 16 in a way that you’ve never seen it before. 
5. It features four young actors playing multiple roles and rocking some incredible drag. 
6. The bar will be in the theatre so you can keep your party going (booze, pop & chips, whatever) all night long. 
7. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays completely flipped on its head! Lots of the original text is still there, but it’s sprinkled with flavour crystals.

And, last, if you had one piece of advice for other young theatre artists who want to produce their own work what would you tell them?

Do what you want to do, not what you think people want to see. You’ll be happier and so will your audience.

 (Brian [2nd from left] rapping in Parked as part of Bridge Mix 2011)

Agreed. Check out the latest Vlog from the Bomb-itty boys here and stayed tuned for more coffee chats with Brian's partner in crime, Jameson Parker, and the director, Catriona Leger.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What Just Happened?! Part 2

So, I woke up this morning edited and posted the blog I wrote yesterday. I think its sufficient to say that I was in the Denial stage of the 5 stages of Grief. Now I’ve moved into Anger.

And, what I am about to say, may not make me popular, but I don’t care (maybe I’m having my own personal Jerry Maguire moment) but it needs to be said.

We, as a community, need to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. Actions speak louder than words.

Tonight there is an event being planned, The Vancouver Playhouse Memorial/Rally (For more details please click here and it will take you the Facebook page). I received this invite early this morning and immediately went to look at the page. On the wall there were many people who had posted something along the lines of “Sorry, I have a show tonight, but I’ll be there in spirit”.

Which, as I took my morning walk around the seawall, started to make me angrier and angrier.

What the fuck [apologies] is wrong with us?!?! 

Regardless of whether this event is a “Memorial” or a “Rally” every single Artistic Director, General Manager, Arts Administrator, Actor, Director, Designer, etc, etc, etc should be at the Playhouse tonight. Full stop.

Every theatre company in this city could go dark tonight in solidarity with the Playhouse. It could happen. It could be done. If we really truly believed that the Playhouse closing actually mattered. Every theatre company could tell it’s patrons tonight, who clearly like theatre or wouldn’t have bought tickets, to instead go stand at the Playhouse tonight. We as a community could drop everything we’re doing and show up and stand in solidarity with Playhouse tonight. We could. So why aren’t we?!

How can we call ourselves a community if we’re not walking the walk? We all talk about how we should go out and see theatre and support each other. But, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it boggles my mind the amount of theatre artists who don’t even go to see theatre. Where is the community in that?!

This event, rally or memorial, is our chance to show ourselves, and each other, that we actually are a community. That we actually do support one another. We are being given a crucial moment that allows us, as a community to stop talking the talk, and actually show up.

It’s not enough to say “Oh, that’s so sad” and then turn around to our friends and say "So, where are we going to watch the game tonight?” (And, I love the Canucks as much as the next person). Words don’t matter. Actions do.

Because if we can’t even prove to ourselves that we are a community that shows up and supports each other why in the world should we expect anyone else to show up and support us?

Every single theatre company, artist and theatre patron should be at the Playhouse tonight. Because if we can’t rally for one night in support of a Canadian theatre institution that is part of our history and made us who were are today then we’re fucked [apologies]. And I don’t say that lightly.

I will be at the Playhouse tonight. I hope to see you there. I hope to see the entire community there. Could you imagine what it would say if indeed all the theatres in Vancouver did go dark and the thousands of theatre artists and theatre lovers in this community did show up?

That alone would be cause for celebration regardless of what ends up happening to the Playhouse in the end.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

What Just Happened?!?!

Yesterday I was reeling. I had a very hard time believing that it was actually real. That it was really happening. That the Vancouver Playhouse is going to be shutting its doors as of tonight.

The Vancouver Playhouse was the first professional theatre company in BC. It is a company that was put in place as part of the Canada Council’s regional theatre movement to establish professional theatre in major urban centres across the country. Canadian theatre as we know it today was built upon this foundation.

And yet, despite it’s clear significance and importance, it appears as though we are just going to allow one of the founding theatrical institutions of our country just close its doors. That’s it. End of story.

I’m sorry but did we just all collectively lose our minds?!?! 

Because the implications of this closure will have far more reaching effects than we can even begin to imagine right now.

The immediate consequence of this closure is that many staff and employees will lose their jobs. This is deeply saddening and my thoughts go out to each and every one of them. And, in the short term, this is going to impact many other companies who look to the Playhouse production centre to help costume their actors or furnish their sets. This will hurt many other organizations beyond just the Playhouse. And, in the long run, this is going to massively effect job opportunities and future development of our industry from here on out. All of this – and much, much more – is a tragic loss.

But, what has me more frightened than any of the above, is what the closure of the Playhouse says about us and our values and priorities as a whole. What does it say about the place and importance of arts & culture in our city and in our communities across the province and country? And, what does this demonstrate to a world that already devalues the importance of the arts & culture in our society? For years & years this conversation has been happening. It was happening far before I joined the conversation and I honestly hope that the conversation will continue to happen long after I’m gone.

But today if this closure happens - and this is what really scares me - we are basically telling all the naysayers and skeptics, all the people we’ve been trying to convince that theatre is important to the life of a community, that they were actually right all along. By allowing the closure of The Vancouver Playhouse to happen we are unintentionally confirming all their suspicions about arts & culture and giving them all the more reason to believe that theatre really is expendable after all. That what we do – creating theatre – isn’t important enough to save. That maybe it really doesn’t have any value and that, despite all our protests, it actually isn’t all that important after all.

Because if it was important - truly important - as a core value and a priority in our society, and if we truly believed in the importance of the arts & culture to the health and vitality of our lives, this closure would not be happening.

And, we can blame the government for lack of funding. Or, we can blame the economy and the recession. And, we can point the finger at the 2010 Olympics. Or, whatever excuse you want to use. And, whomever else you want to take the blame.

But the truth of the matter is that nothing – not one single thing - is going to change the fact that the closure of the Playhouse is just a symptom of a much, much larger problem. It’s not just about the current politics of our province and country or about the current state of our economy. These things are only factors or components of the larger zeitgeist of our times and whatever it is that is happening in the collective consciousness of our society right now.

And, what the closure of the Vancouver Playhouse - a major cultural institution of our city, province and country - says about the collective consciousness of our current society scares the fucking shit [apologies] out of me. It says that something absolutely fundamental is changing in the core values and priorities of our society. In the attitudes and psychological landscape of the people that make up our communities, cities and country.

If this is real. If this is really happening. (And, I still have a hard time believing it is). If, after tonight’s final performance of Hunchback, the Playhouse really does close it doors forever well then, my friends, these really and truly are frightening times we are living in.

 ~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bomb-itty Begins

Yesterday was the first rehearsal for The Bomb-itty of Errors and so to get this ball rolling let me introduce you to the Top 5 reasons (in no particular order) "Bomb-itty" should be on everyone's must-see list for this coming April. It is gonna be the most fun you've had at the theatre in a long time, trust me:

1. The set-up: This ain't no come in, sit down, and shut up production. This is a come down, drink from our bar THROUGH-OUT the entire show and sit around (or stand around) with your friends in your choice of traditional theatre seating, the small tables at the front or the high top tables at the back. Designed (by Set & Lighting Designer Jonathan Tsang) with a concert or live music venue-type atmosphere in mind we actually encourage you to "throw your hands in the air-ah and wave 'em like you just don't care-ah". (Did I just say that?!... Yeah, I did) And...moving on...

2. There will be men in drag: Yes, you heard me correctly. You will get to see Jameson Parker looking like this:

Along with Brian Cochrane, David A. Kaye and Niko Koupantsis who will all, at some point, come on stage wearing lady hip-hop Shakespeare garments (Designed by Vanessa Imeson) just like the ones pictured above. I cannot wait to see Luciana (played by Niko Koupantsis) strut her stuff. I nearly died from laughter at the scenes featuring Luciana at the read-through. And, she's even got her own song that is going to bring down the house. Speaking of...

3. The music: Every song or beat - (as they call 'em in the hip hop world [it's okay I'm not hip to the lingo either. Did I just say that?! Yeah, I did]) - is an original track created by local hip hop artist Anami Vice. For all you theatre people asking yourself, who the heck is Anami Vice?! Well this is Anami Vice:

And his "beats" for this show are un-freakin'-real. The music alone is enough of a reason to come to this show. Oh, and the fact you can drink THROUGH-OUT the entire show...

4. A live DJ: Well, now that we've got the music, we've got to have a DJ to scratch the beats. (Did I just say that?! Yeah I did). Meet DJ Oker Chen. He only met most of the Bomb-itty crew for the first time on Monday and he was right in there beat-boxing away. I think he's gonna fit in quite nicely AND he's gonna be wearin' his own set of hip hop pumpkin pants so that's awesome. And last but certainly not least is...

5. The direc-tah herself: Ms. Catriona Leger. I cannot wait to see what she does with the chase scene. And by chase scene. I mean literally a chase scene. The actors are running across stage as one character and then coming back in as another character and then running around and coming back on as yet another character. We have 4 dressers to make this happen and it is going to be a quickchange nightmare! So you need to be there just to witness this feat of achievement and what is sure to be a highlight of the show.

And, if that doesn't get you excited about Bomb-itty, nothing will (you might as well be dead. And yeah, I said it). I, for one, can't wait to see this show come together over the next month. Oh, oh, and did I mention there will be a bar and that you can drink THROUGH-OUT the ENTIRE show!!

Alright, you get the picture... But betwen now and then we'll have plenty of blog posts, including our usual coffee talk Q & A's, along with other fun updates to keep you occupied. You can also follow along with those crazy Bomb-itty boys throughout the rehearsal process on their Vlog (video blog) here. This is from Day 1:

April 4, 2012 it all goes down at Studio 16.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hunchback: Follow-Up

I love Catalyst Theatre. I am a huge fan of their work so I’m not even going to pretend otherwise. And, last night I had the amazing opportunity to be at the Opening Night performance of Hunchback.

The first time I experienced the magic of Catalyst Theatre was at Nevermore two years ago. Back then I didn’t know anything about Catalyst or their shows so I walked in a completely neutral party and left in wonderment. I was blown away by the production and didn’t hesitate to say so afterwards. It was my first time experiencing Catalyst, and although there can only ever be one first time, Hunchback did not disappoint. Not in the slightest.

I did, however, get to experience my friends first time at a Catalyst production and that, in and of itself, was a gift. I have been raving and talking about Catalyst for two years so my friend has heard it all and was so excited to be seeing Hunchback. But, how do you put into words everything you feel and see and experience at a Catalyst show? How do you do it justice? The answer is: you can’t. It has to be experienced to be appreciated in the same way. So, when the finale was complete, and we had leapt to our feet with applause, and my friend turned to look at me with tears in her eyes, a look of utter shock, awe and admiration, I knew exactly how she was feeling. Through my friend I got to experience my first time again and I got to watch as yet another person was taken away and transformed by their theatre experience. This is the power of the theatre. This is the power of Catalyst.

So, I am not going to sit here and write a detailed review of Hunchback. Instead I am going to give you my top 5 moments from the production and then I am going to ask you to go out and experience it for yourself. Trust me it will be worth it.

1. When Captain Phoebus comes riding in on his horse drawn carriage. This was the epic design moment of the first half.

2. The second epic design moment of the night came at the top of the second half. I walked into the theatre thinking how could it possibly get better than the Captain Phoebus moment? Oh it did. The second half started with a giant Judge puppet whose arms were maneuvered by the ensemble actors as Esmeralda was given her sentence.

3. And, every time I thought it couldn’t get any better, it just kept getting better. The moment Robert Markus (playing the role of Jehan du Maulin) stepped onto stage in the second half and the choral boys choir music started and then he whipped out this bone-chilling countertenor (ie. boy soprano voice) I nearly died. That was a moment of pure beauty.

4. Then the bells of Notre Dame – oh the bells! – float in from the rafters illuminated from within and the most heart wrenching scene between Quasimodo and Esmeralda takes place with startling simplicity.

5. And, finally, the finale. That song. My god, that song! There is a reason the lady in the stall next to me was still humming the tune in the bathroom after the show was over.

Then after the performance I had the amazing pleasure of finally getting to meet and chat with Bretta Gerecke (Production Designer) after chatting with her for almost an hour on the phone and I tell you she is just as lovely in person. Then, as an added bonus, I also got to meet and chat with the man himself, Jonathan Christenson (Director/Writer/Composer). As I was saying to my friend, as the reception was drawing to a close at 12:30am, I just want to dive into their brains and swim around in there for awhile. Because, how they come up with these ideas and productions is beyond me.

I go to these Catalyst shows and get swept up in the experience and have an amazing time. But, then when I sit back and actually think about it I realize he, Jonathan, writes all those beautiful music & lyrics and she, Bretta, does not only the costumes but also the set and the lighting and then - and then - they combine it so beautifully, along with the polished and masterful choreography, to create a show like Hunchback. I don’t know. I just don’t know. It’s mind-boggling.

Catalyst Theatre’s Hunchback will play at the Vancouver Playhouse until March 10th. Get your tickets soon before they're gone. I mean it. You do not want to miss this show! I’ve already got my ticket (paid for with my own dollars and dimes) to see it again at the March 6th talkback evening. Maybe I will see you there.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hunchback: Part III

Well, it is Saturday, February 18th, and the time has come for Hunchback to begin Previews tonight at the Vancouver Playhouse. How exciting is that?! And, so without further ado, the conclusion of my interview with Bretta Gerecke, Resident Designer for Catalyst Theatre and Production Designer for Hunchback.

S: Often you're designing for an entire production - Set, Costume & Lights for Catalyst - and then other places such as the Pacific Opera you're only doing Set & Costumes. Do you find the process different when you're designing for one - if you are just designing Set or Costume or Light - different than if you're designing for the whole?

B: Yeah, it is different. I think you sort of dream in a different way when you're doing all three. You are working as a unified whole, right?! So, you don't know on any given day what's going to come, you know?! Something that I thought was going to be a collar turned into a skirt. Something I thought was a skirt turned into a table. You know what I mean?! (laughs)

S: (laughs)

B: That sounds really flaky but it's all true. (laughs)

S: (laughs) No, it sounds completely true.

B: So things shift. Something we built as a set piece for Hunchback I actually thought was going to be a skirt. So you know, it just ended up that that sort of overlap happened. When [I'm working] on Enron - where I was doing Set & Costumes - I don't ever design a set without imagining it lit because that's how my brain works. I can't imagine it any other way. I see it lit and I am always fascinated by materials, translucence and transformation, right, so that's how my brain works.

Now, Kevin Lamotte (Lighting Designer for Enron at Theatre Calgary], lit it. I'm not telling him how to light it in any way but he's saying to me things like "So, is there anything I should know about how you thought this might all work or come together?" So he and I are able to collaborate. [I say] "I imagine this is possible or I imagine this was possible or I'm not sure how to get this glow happening but, you know?!". And then he sort of runs with that. And, the same is true for projections. The materials that were chosen for that set. For Enron. Were chosen specifically to be lit and projected on. So, it's not about me, in a singular way. It's about the team and those guys also don't hesitate to make offers or suggestions to me about what could happen on a set or costume front. I think that is personality, right?! It's just what you're open to because that's the way that team likes to work together. So, hopefully at the end of the day, I think the goal on all shows is for it to look pretty seamless like everyone was on the project and wanting to reach the same end result, right?!

S: Yes! So, a sort of related question but a little bit different. My blog that I write is geared towards younger emerging artists so if you had some advice for young designers - or you could go back and give young Bretta advice - what advice would you give them?

B: Oh my gosh.

S: (laughs)

B: Oh wow. (laughs). What advice would I give them?! Um...

S: Yeah, people that aspire to be costume designers or production designers or....?

B: I would say... Find the joy in what you do. I would say that it can be a very challenging, cut-throat, very harsh art form because you are being criticized publicly. All the time. I would say that that is anti-creative and counter-productive. And, to stay open to possibilities. To big, big dreams. Bravery. Fearlessness. And just being really okay with diving into unknown territory. Sort of leave any sort of fears behind about judgement. Because it will happen. That's the nature of this beast. And, with your integrity intact and your honesty and spirit of wanting it to be the best possible thing it can be, whatever your working on, you can keep from getting caught in the potential muck and mire. Does that make sense?!

S: Absolutely. That's great. Yeah.

B: I would say one more thing... I would say find the thing that drives you. That excites you about getting up and doing what you do every day. And, find out what that thing is that you bring. The unique thing that you bring that you love. Because I think we get all very caught up in, you know, having to make a living at this. Because it's mad.

S: (laughs)

B: (laughs) Like totally mad.

S: (laughs) Absolutely.

B: Like no one would ever choose such madness, right?! (laughs)

S: Yeah, exactly. (laughs). I agree very much. Absolutely.

B: (laughs) So find the thing that keeps you excited and inspired and drives you forward.

S: Yeah, yeah, Absolutely! So, I'll just bring it back to Hunchback since that's kind of why I'm chatting with you (laughs).

B: (laughing). It all applies.

S: (laughs) It does all apply. It's true. So, for people that are coming to see the show soon, how would you like the audience to leave the theatre feeling? How do want people to leave Hunchback feeling or having had experienced?

(The cast of Hunchback. Photo by Ian Jackson)

B: I want them to feel transported. To feel like they just went on a ride. They got on a ride and they went on a ride. (laughs). They went somewhere that wasn't driven by their brain. It was driven by their heart and gut and their soul, and they went on the ups and on the downs, and they came out the other end feeling excited, feeling moved, feeling something. That's what I want. I think that's what we all want, you know?!

S: Yes.

B: We want to be moved. We want to be taken somewhere. And, that's what we want for Hunchback.

S: I'm excited to see it!

B: Ahhhh! I'm excited for you to see it too!

S: Were there any big surprises that came that you didn't expect, through rehearsal or through the process, that came up that you were like "oh, that surprised me the way it turned out. Or I really like this one element but I didn't kind of expect it to happen?"

B: (laughs). You ask the most impossible questions. Excellent. It's a challenge.

S: (laughing). I'm sorry!

B: (laughing) No! It's great. That's the way it should be. That's a tricky thing to say because... Seriously, every single day is a surprise! (laughs)

I'm in a constant state of "Really?! Oh my god! Okay! Really?! That's where we're going" You know?! Seriously, I'm not in Edmonton right now and right up to this very second I'm still getting texts with pictures. I have an assistant working on a bunch of improvements on the show and she's sending me these images and I'm like "oh, thank god. Now that feels right. Now that feels like it's in the right zone".

If it was one big surprise I would say that in a visual world I'm sort of shocked...
One of the people I'm living with right now was watching a tv show called "Smash". Have you heard about this new tv series?

S: Yes, I have heard about it. I haven't seen it but I've heard of it.

B: Okay, so he was watching "Smash" and Dennis [Garnhum], the director [of Carmen at Pacific Opera], and I came home from rehearsal two nights ago walked in and saw two seconds of this tv show and then it went to commercial. And, the commercial was for Hunchback!

So on the tv were all these images of Hunchback and it startled me in a way that I can't even describe to you. It went from this New York audition - which is what was going on in "Smash" - to this crazy visual world of Hunchback. And, what surprised me was, that I'm so in that zone all the time I always think that what we do is kind of normal. Then when I see it butted up against something that's real. Like real people in an audition in New York. I'm like (laughs) what we do is stranger than I ever give it credit for.

(Molly Flood. Photo by Layla Hyde)

So, I don't know how to describe that but I think it is just the butting up of reality [against] this kind of dreamworld [of Hunchback]. I catch myself a little bit and I go "oh, wow, okay, yeah, now I get it, why people say it's not what they expected". Because it takes a minute to immerse yourself in that universe. Does that make sense?!

S: Yes, that when you're so involved in something and you do it so often that then to stand back and see it on tv butted up against something else you go "oh, right, yeah okay, I get that."

B: Yes, and its context right?! You're used to being in the zone and you don't see it as odd and then to see it contextually on tv that I just went "Wow, yeah, that makes statement" (laughs).

S: Yes, absolutely (laughs). Well, I don't have too many other questions. Is there anything else you wanted to say about Hunchback or your design process or anything before I let you go after taking almost an hour of your time (laughs)?

B: (laughs). I don't know. I don't think so. I think you've probably covered a great deal of it. More than many. (laughs).

S: Oh! Well...good I'm glad. (laughs).

B: It's great! It's lovely to talk to you. And, I hope that people come and enjoy.

And, there you have it folks. Bretta Gerecke. It was such a pleasure to be able to chat with her and I love what she had to say to young aspiring artists and designers: Find the joy.

Tickets and more information on Hunchback can be found on the Vancouver Playhouse website. It officially opens February 23rd and then will run until March 10th. Get your tickets now before they are gone!!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hunchback: Part II

So we ended off last time with Bretta talking about how her and Jonathan decide which story they are going to tell next. And, I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger as she said she felt it was “the end of a trilogy of cautionary tales”. If you are anything like me you were asking yourself ‘So, what are you going to do next?’ but I didn’t ask that question (sorry guys!). Instead she went on to say:

B: Frankenstein, Edgar Allen Poe, Hunchback, Okay, yeah, a trilogy of cautionary tales (laughs). So, now what's next? What is the next thing that gets us fired up and inspired and wanting to go jogging down that terrifying road of the unknown?! We don't know but we do it, right?! (laughs). So that's how he and I work. We start right from the long list of what's next projects. Then once we figure out what we're doing. It's a little bit of a free-for-all. We share images, or thoughts, or movies, or dreams, or nightmares we've had, or whatever it is, and we bring them to the table and try to find the world that the story lives in. Because it's all about what world does this story inhabit. And, because we're inventing those worlds, we're using period references or architectural references or installation references but not… We call it a dream logic. You know how dreams are completely illogical and yet they make total sense?!

S: (laughs) Yes.

B: (laughs) Well, that's the sort of logic we apply. It’s the logic of dreams. We keep coming back to wanting to build a world of imaginative possibilities. So, if you were the kind of kid who was read stories - or told stories by your parents before you went to bed - it's that kind of wild, vivid, imaginative, pop off the page, fairytale landscape we are drawn to. So that's the next step. Trying to figure out the world.

(Scott Walters. Photo by Layla Hyde)

And, then there is a lot of drawing. A lot of composing. Jon writes the music before anything else. Music comes first to him. Images come first to me. But he's also a really image driven guy. There are very blurry lines. I always tease him that he could be the designer he just doesn't have the time (laughs). Which is true. He is a really visual creature so he's able to see things with very little to go on. Like he can imagine something just through a little thumbnail sktech or what have you. So we're pretty lucky in that we now have a short hand after years of doing this and of where we're going and how we might get there. So, there's a lot of back and forth.

Then, once we get into rehearsal, Jon and Laura are really the rehearsal team. Then they are building that vocabulary of visual movement. How the storytelling is going to work through the body and face. And, we work with a woman named Betty Moulton who does the same thing but just does that with voice. So, there is a team of us. And, Laura is fantastic because by the time they are in rehearsal I am often - I'm in and out of rehearsal because I'm building stuff in my office - which is just 10 feet away. So they'll grab me and say "'Kay, come watch something" and I'll watch and then we'll talk about what's possible or what that inspires. Most of Laura's breaks - bless her heart - she comes into my office and says "Okay, if Edgar is doing this with his back leg and this with his arm and his head is over here, how do you think we can make this work with his costume? What can he possibly be wearing that will work?” So, she's really great at doing this back and forth with me. Nothing ever arrives in rehearsal and it's like "oh well, obviously that's the thing". There's no "there's the hat" like there is no negotiation or discussion. It is more "Here's the starting place for the hat. Now let's see if we can make the hat work. And, if we can't make the hat work, what do we want to do with the hat to make it better?" You know?!

(C: Ava Jane Markus & Ron Pederson with the cast. Photo by Layla Hyde)

S: Yeah, yes.

B: So, it requires a certain amount of flexibility on the idea front. You need to have a really long, very patient, extended feeling about what you do because nothing is ever right. And, nothing is ever done. It's always an evolution. (laughs). Trust me.

S: (laughs) Yeah.

B: (laughs) We've become extremely good at letting go. It’s a highly trained skill of art.

S: (laughs) I can imagine, yeah. And, so in saying that, it's a very particular process for you guys and obviously very open. So do you find that when you work with other theatre companies or on other shows, it is very different? And, how do you do that? Is it easy for you to do that? And, do you like working both ways? Or, do you kind of bring your aesthetic with you and go this is how I work, do you know what I mean?!

B: I do. I think what I love about what I do is that there is a lot to be learned from every project. From example we just opened Enron at Theatre Calgary. Theatre Calgary - a big theatre - full of people with incredible skills and talents. So I'm able to work with - I did the Set & Costume design for that show - I'm able to work with people in wardrobe who have a whole range of skills that I do not have.

So, there are these Raptors in this show. They are Raptors that eat the debt. For Enron, right?! So they are these strange dinosaur characters that I drew. Then from what I drew I built a prototype in my office in Edmonton of how I would build it. Because that's all I know to do. I know how to do it the way I would build it so it's made out of painter's coveralls and then stuck to it is a bunch of foam core cut into pyramids that's placed on the costume and then those are covered in duct tape. (laughs). Because that is how I know how to do it. How I would do it.

So, I take this prototype to Theatre Calgary on the bus. (laughs).

S: (laughs)

B: (laughing) So glamourous.

S: (laughing) That is hilarious. That's awesome.

B: (laughs) So I take it on the bus. And, I show the director and he says "Cool. I totally get it. That makes sense to me. I just want to make sure they look tough, right?!" And, I'm like "Yep, I'm totally in". So I take them into wardrobe and the wardrobe guys then look at it and say "okay, great. What is it about this that is important." Because with the kind of style of theatre we're doing at Theatre Calgary they are not going to make them out of paper and tape because they actually know how to make them properly (laughs).

S: (laughs) Yes.

B: (laughing) You know what I'm saying?!

S: (laughing) Yeah, absolutely.

B: They take the essence. And, they say "okay, what's the essence of what's important with this?" And I say "well, okay, it has to look fierce. And it has to look mean. And they can't be funny, like Barney, purple dinosaurs. They have to be nasty Raptors. So I like that it's jagged and pointy and the tape makes it rugged and tough". So we talk about that and then they come up with methods of making that work within a wardrobe rather than a workshop which is essentially what I have. So, it's that kind of difference. I still bring what I bring but then it's built in a completely different way by people who have very different skills sets. Does that make sense?!

S: Yes, totally. They probably figure out how to... well exactly, they have an entire wardrobe team to figure out how to make it from fabric - or whatever other materials - to then make what you've brought.

B: Yeah. Now what's happened is that they're built [by the wardrobe team at Theatre Calgary] but they're built more like a soft fabric jumpsuit that then has a mask head and all these foam pyramid things that are covered with a different fabric. Then I did the finishing. The finish details are red tape. Literally. The question was "Are we going to paint this or...?" And I said "You know what?! I'm just going to tack this thing with red tape." (laughs).

S: (laughs)

B: (laughing) They said "Okay. You go to it." (laughs). So, that's kind of how we work as a team and make it happen.

S: And, for that kind of production: do you show up on the first day of rehearsal and have those designs already done in your mind and present them? Or is it still more of a collaborative process as you go through rehearsal?

B: No, I show up with a model. The set was already built prior to rehearsal starting so I show up with a model and talk through the designs in a pretty normal way. And, the costumes are all sketched - and I think it's a pretty common thing that they are drawn as they are intended – but then you actually meet these people and see them in real life. And, you see bodies, hair and faces and then you might make slightly different choices then you did on paper because they will work better for a particular actor or they will look better in combination with other actors. Do you know what I mean?! There's still an evolution on the wardrobe front but the basic idea is all on paper.

S: Yes! I'm just always curious to find out - I don't know how much was mentioned to you about me - but I'm a costume designer so I'm always very curious to find out what other people's processes are.

B: Ahhhhhhh, there ya go.

S: So, that's why I'm asking you all these questions.

B: Yes, for sure.

S: Because I know my process and how I'm used to working. And, I'm still quite young. I'm not by any means… So I'm always curious to see what other people's processes are and especially people like yourself who, you know, I really admire your work. So, yeah, it's just a curious thing to me. Because I find that too and, I think that's what I like - I don't do Set or Lighting design - but I like the collaborative process even once you get into rehearsal. So that you're seeing actors bodies and that something that might come up in rehearsal that you didn't think of prior can inspire a choice. I like to have that freedom. So, it's just interesting that that happens in your process - and elsewhere - as opposed to just what I'm doing or projects that I work on.

B: Yeah, yeah, No, I think it's really important. I think it's really important to stay open to the evolution that happens in rehearsal. It’s really important to listen to performers because they know all sorts of things that you don't know. You learn from them what their fears are, what their needs are, what their wishes are, and at the end of the day, what is critical is that they go on stage feeling absolutely fantastic. And, that doesn't mean that they look fantastic. Maybe that part is not about looking fantastic but that they the feel right. There is nothing more frustrating to me then people who close off options because they know better. I never know better. I bring what I bring. You bring what you bring. We come up with the best solution to the given problem but there is not a lot of room, for me, for being shut down or of one mind.

S: Or imposing something on somebody. If you come in and think this is the only and best idea and then imposing that on somebody that maybe has other ideas then there's no give and take. There's no meeting of minds. There's just...

B: That's right, that's right. Then it's not an organic art form. Then you could do it on your own, you know?! Certainly for me I need the input of everyone. I'm happy to make decisions. It's not about that. It's just that it will be better if we're open to keeping the ideas free flowing...

And, that's Part II. I think my favourite thing from this part of the interview is that she took her Raptor prototype on the bus with her to Theatre Calgary. I can just imagine the looks on the faces of the people riding that bus. Priceless!!

The final installment of my chat with Bretta will be up on the blog on Saturday (just in time for their first preview). We chatted for almost an hour last Thursday and when I transcribed it into Word it ended up being 15 pages long! And, I just felt that there was nothing extraneous in what she had to say.

Part III has some of her most inspiring words and thoughts that came during the part of the conversation when I asked her if she had any advice to give to young, aspiring designers and/or theatre artists. Plus we'll come back to more about Hunchback and the thing that surprised her most about the production.

So, stayed tuned...

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer