HIVE full of BUSY BEEZ

Heya I’m in Vancouver right now for Hive 3 and if you don’t know what that is, you must try and see it some day. It’s essentially a group of about 12 west coast theatre companies who banded together to create a joint interactive theatre experience. This is their 3rd time round with the event and it’s truly a sight to see. For a theatre community so badly hit by government cuts, these guys have their shit together. The production elements of these short performance works involve intricate use of sound, lighting and interactivity within miniature worlds fully realized in both costume and set. There’s nothing minimalist about these pieces, but there’s also nothing excessive about them either.

A particular work by the Electric Company Theatre, (you might have seen their  co-production with Nightwood of No Exit in Toronto last fall directed by Kim Collier) has an audience capacity of 1 person.  This person is led through a short live performance viewed through a miniature picture viewer. The actors perform the play while an SM controls what you see by rolling you around on a dolly. It truly blurs the lines between film and live theatre, leaving me questioning how both can be one thing at one time. My description of it fails to capture what the experience is like, but let’s just say it’s groundbreaking work. Works like this and many others continually play with the idea of what an audience member’s role should be. It’s also important to note that getting in to see a show is a mystery to itself. Often you won’t be able to see a piece unless a company member gives you a prop to hold, involuntarily pulls you into the action or coerces you through some other means. You’ve got to keep your eyes open and move quickly, oh and be sure to down your drink first, some didn’t and found themselves with a beer on their lap when they thought it a good idea to join a piece that had audience learning choreography.

For me it was valuable to see a different community of theatre goers. I was a stranger there among a room full of friends. Which I bet it must be like for people who come from out of town to see shows in Toronto. We’re tightly nit within the theatrical community made up of producers, artists, administrators, theatre students and media types. Unless you’re say, something of a figure head, an Artistic Director for example, your name doesn’t have much clout across boarders.  Ken Cameron (The Magnetic North Artistic Director who kindly tied an apron around me pre-entering a show) was a presence that night. But overall it felt like a uniquely west coast crowd. I wonder if there are more ways we can build a dialogue across such reserved communities.  Hive seems like a good way to make this connection, given its relaxed atmosphere and booze-lubricated social spaces.  I certainly had a few conversations with strangers. It’s just a matter of getting more Toronto types out there and more west coaster types over here.

That’s all on my experience so far. I’ll be seeing some other shows today including a work by another sexy west coast group, Kokoro Dance. I’m aiming to be back at Hive tomorrow night to catch the couple pieces I missed. See www.buzzbuzzbuzz.ca for more info.

From Vancouver, “Dan Dan” out.

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