PELEE, by Erin Brandenburg and Lauren Taylor

Talya Rubin (girl with no hands) interviews Erin Brandenburg from:


by Erin Brandenburg and Lauren Taylor

Erin Brandenberg and Andrew Penner

Erin Brandenburg and Andrew Penner

Directed by Lauren Taylor
Presented by The Pelee Project
Featuring Gord Bolan, Erin Brandenburg, Dave McEathron, Andrew Penner, Howie Shia

From the company that brought you last year’s Fringe hit REESOR (‘NNNN’ Critic’s pick, Best Overall Production) comes PELEE, an exciting new production combining animation, electric power, failed inventions, and original live music performed on fantastical instrumental creations. PELEE examines the mysteries of the past and value of forgotten places

After their Fringe hit, Reesor, the collective led by Erin Brandenburg and Lauren Taylor are coming to Summerworks with their latest adventure in eclectic theater-making magic; Pelee. Exploring the history of Pelee Island through music, animation, and a variety of other storytelling devices, expect to be entertained and awed by this original piece. I had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Erin Brandenburg and probing a little deeper beneath the surface of all things Pelee. Here’s what she had to say…

1. How did your collective come together?

Lauren and I met at work, and Andrew was just always hanging around the house while we were working, and then we needed some musicians and instruments so we got Gord and Dave and Iner, and then Howie came along . . . We’re just really lucky to have a lot of really talented friends.

Lauren Taylor

Lauren Taylor

2. Why do both the plays you have made have two ‘e’s in their titles?

We like vowels.

3. What inspires your work and sparks the research?

Crazy historical events that many people don’t know about. We find strange details in history really exciting. For this show we began with some local history about Southern Ontario and found some fascinating characters and events. It’s also personal stories, and personal experiences. Pelee Island is one of my favourite places in Canada and it was a delight to learn more about it.

4. What is your process like?

Because we are the writers as well as the director and performer our writing method involves a lot of work on our feet. We start with research, gathering as much information and tiny details as we can on our subjects and then just start experimenting. For this project we got our collaborators together very early in the process and their input was extremely valuable.

5. Do the multimedia aspects in your work come from who you are as a collective or do you find the musicians, animators, etc…once you know what you need?

We start with the people we like and want to work with and get everyone together in a room and say ‘go!’ it’s very chaotic, but each medium feeds into the others. The inspiration for much of the story of Pelee came from Iner Souster’s pieces of art that are lying around my house and from the music that Gord, Andrew and Dave create together.

The Microphone of Pasts Future (Iner Souster)

The Microphone of Pasts Future (created by Iner Souster)

6. What is the most obscure thing you discovered about Pelee island?

There were pirates.

7. What is the most embarrassing moment of collective creation that we won’t see on stage?

Hmmm, what happens in rehearsal stays in rehearsal.

8. How would you describe your sensibility in terms of the “stage magic” or theatricality of you pieces?

It’s the same kind of magic that you had when you were putting on plays in your parents basement, as a kid. We use simple design ideas, and because we work very collaboratively the design, and music are integrated into the story.

9. How would you put your latest work in relation to your Fringe hit, Reesor?

Like Reesor, this show has a live band on stage and deals with an obscure part of Canadian history. But where Reesor was accoustic and Mennonite, this is electric and a lot more kooky.

10. We are outsiders to the Toronto theatre scene. If you had one sentence to orient us, what would it be?

Go to the beer tent.

Well, that’s where you’ll find me after the show then! I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing this. I was particularly captivated by the notion of a play being as playful as basement theatre when we were kids and love that they are experimenting with simple, yet unusual ways of making theatre come to life.