Mod­ern tragedy drawn into

Elec­tric Com­pany The­atre’s bold new work re­opens the Play­house to am­bi­tious drama Janet Smith

The Georgia Straight - - Arts - By Pho­tos by Don Lee

The Full Light of Day will rank as one of the most epic-scale plays staged in Van­cou­ver in 2019. Fea­tur­ing 14 livestream­ing cam­eras and pro­jec­tions, the new Elec­tric Com­pany The­atre pro­duc­tion fea­tures an all-star cast led by Gabrielle Rose, an ar­ray of tech­nolo­gies, and a se­ries of short, vir­tu­al­re­al­ity films that screen in the lobby.

In 2016, Elec­tric Com­pany di­rec­tor Kim Col­lier scored a $280,000 New Chap­ter grant—a one-time pro­ject fund from the Canada Coun­cil to mark the 150th an­niver­sary of Con­fed­er­a­tion—to stage Daniel Brooks’s play. But she had one big prob­lem. There was nowhere with the space and the the­atri­cal fly sys­tem needed to fully stage it—ex­cept the Play­house, which had stopped reg­u­larly host­ing pro­duc­tions of this scope when its name­sake com­pany folded in 2012.

“We had all this cap­i­tal and art, and where were we go­ing to do it in this city? We had this show un­der way!” the vet­eran the­atre artist tells the Straight over the phone. “One of the things about build­ing an in­cred­i­ble team is you need to be able to hold their sched­ules and that needs to be con­crete. And it was very, very sur­pris­ing that you couldn’t gather for a few weeks at the Play­house.”

The good news is that the search for a so­lu­tion has not only brought Col­lier’s am­bi­tious pro­ject to fruition, it’s led to a re­vival of the Play­house as a reg­u­lar the­atre venue.

Elec­tric Com­pany’s new artis­tic pro­ducer, Clay­ton Bara­niuk, says The Full Light of Day re­quired a more ex­tended stay than a nor­mal rental would, es­pe­cially due to its ex­tended in­stal­la­tion pe­riod and tech­ni­cal el­e­ments.

“They needed to carve out a longer res­i­dence in­side of that venue in or­der to use it for what it was pur­pose-built for,” he ex­plains of the civic-owned the­atre.

There was no avail­abil­ity two years out. How­ever, a can­cel­la­tion al­lowed the show to hap­pen, and the pro­duc­tion is fi­nally pre­par­ing to take the stage in early Jan­uary. “It’s a big leap for our com­pany,” Bara­niuk says, point­ing out that past Elec­tric Com­pany shows have been pro­duced by the likes of the Arts Club.

In this case, the troupe is pre­sent­ing alone—and it’s hop­ing to use the space at least once a year now that it’s en­tered the cy­cle of book­ing re­quests, paving the way for other groups to use it as well.

“We’re a cre­ation com­pany. There’s no de­sire for us to be­come the next Play­house The­atre Com­pany, but now we’ll be able to lever­age that in­fra­struc­ture for other the­atre com­pa­nies,” ex­plains Bara­niuk. “It is our hope that we can lever­age the op­por­tu­ni­ties we have been granted with this show to build our ca­pac­ity and ig­nite Van­cou­ver au­di­ences’ pas­sion for large-scale new the­atre works, pro­pel­ling our vi­sion for an­nual pre­mieres at the Play­house for­ward and re­viv­ing the­atre prac­tice in the down­town core once again.”

Elec­tric Com­pany The­atre is cur­rently steer­ing a Play­house Re­vival fundrais­ing cam­paign to make that dream a re­al­ity. At the same time that it breaks new ground with The Full Light of Day, the show con­tin­ues the com­pany’s more than 20-year tra­di­tion of build­ing in­no­va­tive, of­ten multimedia spec­ta­cles.

“We’ve al­ways worked with scale,” says Col­lier, “whether it’s my­self with Elec­tric Com­pany or oth­ers— shows like Tear the Cur­tain!, No Exit, or Betrof­fen­heit—the ma­jor works have been on large stages.” BARA­NIUK AND COL­LIER de­scribe The Full Light of Day as a hy­brid of the­atre and film. In the story, a woman who is ter­mi­nally ill con­fronts her fam­ily’s po­si­tion of priv­i­lege, and how it ties into the prop­erty they’ve ac­quired.

“The play looks hard at a so­ci­ety ob­sessed with land own­er­ship—what we’ll hand down col­lec­tively to the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.