A Chat with Carly Chamberlain, Director of 10 CREATIVE WAYS TO DISPOSE OF YOUR CREMAINS at the 2017 Fringe
Interview by Bailey Green
We spoke with Carly Chamberlain, artistic producer of Neoteny Theatre and director of upcoming Fringe show 10 Creative Ways to Dispose of your Cremains written by Rose Napoli. Jakob Ehman and Rose Napoli star in this two hander about millennials, emotional baggage and bed bugs.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BG: Tell me about working with Rose Napoli. How did you two meet?
CC: We both went to University of Windsor in the acting program, we were one class apart and she was like an honorary member of our class. So I’ve known her for 15 years, and we were friendly but never close. When we started working together at Canadian Stage, we reconnected and really hit it off. I went away to school and during that time she had been writing and we stayed connected. When she approached me this Fall about 10 Creative Ways, it felt like the right project. We’ve known each other for a long time, so to take our relationship a new level, so to speak, has been really exciting.
BG: What drew you into the script?
CC: It’s really different from what I had worked on recently. On the surface it seems quite contemporary, colloquial and casual. The first scene is at a party, it’s about millennials, and on the surface it seems like snappy little play. But there’s a lot of anxiety and deeper issues going on under the surface. It’s a play about people who are so desperate to connect, but their baggage gets in the way and I felt like that was a familiar experience and familiar to people I know. When I read it, I felt I knew these characters. Instant connection.
BG: So where do we find these characters at the start of the play?
CC: Two people meet at a party, and they end up not really getting along, but they stumble back upon each other while they are dealing with shit in their own lives. The play takes place over 24 hours, and then an epilogue. So [we see] two seemingly mis-matched people that may have the potential for a real connection, whether that is friendship or romance. It’s not really a love story in a traditional way. It’s a Toronto story. It’s about two people trying to maybe grow up and how to do that amongst the shit of bed bugs and trying to pay rent and trying to find some meaning in what they’re doing in their lives.
BG: So Rose also acts in 10 Creative Ways, how have you both navigated that change in roles from playwright to actor? Or is it a more fluid process?
CC: It’s a new experience and I have never directed someone in their own work. So I went in with an open mind and to see what the needs would be. The play had some workshops so we both felt confident that the script was in a good place; there were things we’d change but there wouldn’t be massive re-writes in rehearsal. It’s a fluid relationship when I’m in rehearsal with Jakob and Rose. It’s important to me when working on new work not to look to the writer in the room to answer all of our questions, you still need to investigate just the way you would with Shakespeare or Chekhov. I like plays that leave those rough edges, and now that we’re deeper in, we just jump back and forth pretty fluidly. Jakob and Rose have worked together so they have that dynamic as well and it’s a pretty open room as far as the dialogue around changing the text when it’s needed.
BG: What has been the greatest joy working on this piece?
CC: I like when I’m working with really good people and am surprised by what they come up with. They have free rein in that way. I’m working with a design team who I’ve worked with before and are people I really trust. It has been a special experience, the contributions of the whole team and a lot of my work has been in response to what everyone else is giving, I am shaping the awesome ideas of all the people in the room. Anna [Treusch] who designed the set, came to me and said ‘I can see exactly what this set is,’ and that’s not the way she usually works, usually it’s a longer, organic process. So that was so unexpected to me. And Daniel [Bennett] for sound composition, he had a really clear idea right away. So I love getting to be surprised and inspired.
BG: It seems like we’re grappling with this ‘millennial question’ in art and theatre right now, and it can be really nebulous. Could you distill 10 Creative Ways… into a couple short phrases?
CC: It’s about learning how to communicate when you’re more comfortable using emojis and it’s about making a choice to let go and accept that your baggage is in the room
BG: And lastly, what are you excited to see at fringe?
CC: The Diddlin’ Bibbles, they are so funny and shocking and strange and I always really love so I am looking forward to seeing a full set. I’m looking forward to Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons cause I love The Howland Company stuff but also, similarly to our piece, it has a title everyone remembers but yet still doesn’t quite know what it’s about, so I like that there’s a bit of mystery around it. And Nourishment, it’s got a couple of young creators that are doing some really interesting work, strong young women, and I’m excited about it.
10 Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains
Written by Rose Napoli
Directed by Carly Chamberlain
Starring: Jakob Ehman & Rose Napoli
Producer: Nicole Myers-MitchellSet & Costume Design by Anna Treusch
Sound & Lighting Design by Daniel Bennett
Stage Management by Lucy McPhee
Production Management by David Costello
Photography & Graphic Design by Kyle Purcell
Boy meets girl. Boy has broken vaporizer. Girl has bed bugs. “Ten Creative Ways to Dispose of your Cremains” is not just the longest title ever, it’s a millennial love letter to the misfits of the Peter Pan Generation.
From the writer of “Oregano”at the Storefront Theatre and the director of “Plucked” at Summerworks, comes a new old story about living on the outside. Starring Jakob Ehman and Rose Napoli.
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
16 Ryerson Ave.
6th July – 9:30pm
8th July – 3:15pm
9th July – 8:00pm
10th July – 5:45pm
11th July – 10:15pm
13th July – 1:00pm
14th July – 8:45pm
16th July – 2:15pm