Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Seven Siblings Theatre Co’

In Conversation with Will King on Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”

Interview by Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn: So, you are directing Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros for Seven Siblings Theatre Company. It’s an adaptation by Derek Prowse. Is it a new adaptation?

Will King: No. So what we’re trying to do is find as many contemporary hooks into the play as possible. A lot of that has been in the staging of it, making it very minimalist instead of its traditional setting. We were rather looking for locations we might find ourselves in in Toronto. The first quarter takes place in a beer garden, something you might see as a semi-interior in one of the breweries in the city. It has a local and very communal feel. So, for a show like Rhinoceros about the spread of populism and sensationalism, it has to start in a very public location. We thought it would be nice if people felt very comfortable and immersed in the setting. It feels very similar to the actual location the performers are in.

From there, it gets more private and the characters get more distant from the audience. So we see it go from public, to a semi-private office, to two different houses, one of which is a terrarium.

RQ: Why this show, right now?

WK: I think we are in an era that deals with sensationalism possibly more strongly than ever on an individual level. We know that this play was written in response to fascism and Naziism in the Second World War, but now we live in an age of facebook, and buzzfeed, a sense of self-propaganda. It’s important that we look at ourselves, and our own sense of what otherness is, and how we deal with constant sensationalism and populism.

I think there are many reasons the last Canadian election went the way it did, but one of the biggest pulls for Trudeau and the liberals was that he was the one with traditionally Canadian values. He was the everyman that we thought shared our same moral compass. So there’s definitely a sense of how politics and new ideas are sold, for better or worse.

But it’s important to me that this play doesn’t become just about the politics. I think it would be easy to slap on something about the Trump campaign and make it about that. I mean, I think people will still make connections to that extraordinary and horrifying bout of sensationalism happening in the States. But I didn’t want that to be what it was about. It’s about intersection in any kind of area, in belief, race, gender, sexuality, politics. Whatever that otherness is for the audience, it’s that otherness for the characters in the play.

RQ: This show deals with the allure of mob mentality…

WK: For sure! We’re trying to play with that theme in our physicality a lot.

RQ: So how do we reconcile that idea with the current idea that the “outsider” is more morally genuine than everyone else? Trudeau, Trump, and Sanders are all sold as outsiders. Not to say that their politics are in any way similar, but that seems to be the campaign that works.

WK: I think in this play we can eventually sympathize with the outsider, while at the same time we see them as (literally in this case, since it’s a rhinoceros) tools of chaos and destruction. I mean, for the people who join the rhinoceros, suddenly their way of living is beautiful and wonderful. I want the audience to question, you know, “why not join the rhinoceros?”. You get to roll around in the grass and be comfortable. We totally understand why it’s so easy for people to want to join them, and I think that happens politically, as well.

RQ: Tell me a bit about the rehearsal process.

WK: This was done as a ten-day intensive. That was inherently challenging and difficult. We go through a lot of work with the Michael Chekhov technique, getting on our feet and finding centers, archetypes, character bodies. We’re trying to break through the text analysis in a physical way, so we’re not banging our heads against the wall. It’s helped us find a really visceral and accessible clarity. Our next step is going to be to really focus on creating an atmosphere in a set that’s constantly being created and destroyed by the actors. We’re using chalkboard paint and different color schemes for individual worlds to really highlight that this is a world that’s constantly changing and shifting.

We also have ten challenges that were assigned to the actors, things like creating a physical rhinoceros from two or more people, or an immediate breaking into tears, things that we’ve used as tools to tell the story. I’m there to make sure the story is clear and everything fits together, but those goalposts, as it were, are there to help the actors work toward a kind of structure on their own as well.

RQ: What can you tell me about Seven Siblings and your mandate?

WK: The company was founded by Madryn McCabe, Erika Downie, and myself. The three of us started the company through the teaching certification program at the Michael Chekhov consortium in Ohio. As a company, we like to do work that sits in the realm of fantastical realism, things that are larger than life. I’d say it’s playful and visceral, and grand, but also very true to life. There’s a lot of work that can still be truthful while really going to strange and conceptual places. For us, the most important thing is joy, that’s the focus even in times of exhaustion and duress. We find that frees performers up to stop worrying about a final performance, to focus instead on the playfulness and discovery.

We want people to be able to look outside themselves and see their lives through metaphor for a while. To take something very personal from an idea that’s absurd or strange. I think we’re lucky that we can do that in the theatre.

We’ve also been trying to extend that sense of play to our promotional campaign as well, doing street-level things that lend themselves to word-of-mouth promotion.

RQ: What do you want people to talk about on the way home from this show?

WK: I hope it elicits a conversation about positive political discourse. Often when we see someone with different political views from our own, we dismiss them, but it’s valuable to have an honest debate about their views. I think that would benefit our society.

I mean, I hope they have fun, too! Without all the allegory, if you saw this show as a farce, it’s very entertaining! There’s something important at the heart of it, but something really fun and alive on the surface.

RQ: Congratulations on the show!

WK: Thanks, Ryan!

 

Seven Siblings Theatre presents:

Rhinoceros

Smoke Rhinoceros

A play by Eugene Ionesco
Adapted by Derek Prouse
Directed by Will King
Featuring Veronica Baron, Jim Armstrong, John Lovett, Andrew Gaunce, Erika Downie, Liz Bragg, Margaret Hild, Amrit Kaur, Mardi O’Conner
Assistant Directed by: Erika Downie
Produced by: Madryn McCabe
Production Manager: Kate McArthur
Stage Manager: Jocelyn Levadoux
Lighting Design: Parker Nowlan
Front of House: Gwendolyn Hodgson

Run Time: 90 minutes

When: June 2-5, 8pm, doors open at 7:30

Where: The Rhino Bar & Grille (1249 Queen St W).Our performance venue is on the 2nd floor.

Tickets: Artsworkers $15, General $19, At the door $20 cash http://www.sevensiblingstheatre.ca/rhinoceros/

Connect:

Twitter: @SevenSiblingsCo

Facebook: sevensiblingstheatreco

Instagram: @sevensiblingstheatre

Performed with Permission by Samuel French Inc.

Philip Ridleys “Mercury Fur” Gets Toronto Premiere – A Chat with Director Will King

Interview by Hallie Seline

HS: Could you tell me a bit about the show? 

Will King: Absolutely! Mercury Fur follows two brothers who survive in a lawless city by fulfilling the dark and vivid fantasies of their clients. Language is degrading, memories are disappearing, and as the population becomes increasingly dependant on mind altering butterflies, their desperate need to connect with each other is intensified. It’s provocative and unapologetic, but at its core this is a show about what you would do to protect the person you love.

HS: What inspired you to do this show in Toronto right now? 

WK: I’ve been a fan of Philip Ridley’s work for a long time, and once I realized that there’s never been a Canadian production of this play I knew we needed to bring it to Toronto. It has an incredible cast of characters, and I’m consistently impressed by Ridley’s ability to write three dimensional parts for young actors. I also think Mercury Fur challenges the audience to experience theatre in a new way. It weaves together horror, drama, and comedy into a shot of adrenaline which leaves you wanting more. I’ve never read or experienced anything quite like it, and I feel like the strength of the writing allowed us to bring together a pretty incredible cast and crew.

HS: What has been the most surprising discovery you have made while working on Mercury Fur?

WK: The humour. Mercury Fur can be wickedly funny. We are constantly finding joy in this bleak world they live in and although there’s plenty of heavy subject matter, Ridley has created a solid polarity of comedy to keep things rolling.

Edit-1

HS: What inspires you as artists?

WK: At the moment I’m quite fascinated by Fantastic Realism. Through taking characters which are grounded and believable, and placing them in a heightened, magical, or supernatural environment I find we are able to expand the style and size of our world without compromising the given circumstances or truth of the characters.

For example, in Mercury Fur, every character has been affected by the outbreak of butterflies. Whether they sell them, consume them, reject them, or become hopelessly addicted to the power of their fantasy, the existence of these butterflies creates an immediate bond between the characters. 

Seven Siblings Theatre is also focused on utilizing the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique. So when I see a piece with strong shifts in atmosphere, an even ensemble, and characters that are heightened enough to be in a constant state of play I get excited. Mercury Fur goes hand-in-hand with my style and our company values, and I’m very proud of the people who are helping to make this possible. Their commitment to our psychophysical exploration was thrilling to watch, and the detail and nuance in their performance is the result of their engagement throughout our rehearsal process.

HS: If you could pitch this show to your audience in five to ten words, what would they be?

WK: Judith Thompson meets Quentin Tarantino. A party ensues.

MFUR-11

HS: What song or soundtrack should we listen to before coming to see the show? 

WK: As a small homage to the culture in which the play was written we’ve been digging into the soundscape of East London’s electronic music scene. I would recommend looking into Burial, Four Tet, Phaeleh, and SBTRKT. We’ve also been building a deep and dark sound palette, so Gesaffelstein seems appropriate to me as a pre-show prep. For the exact tone of our play, check out our sound designer’s work in his new self-titled Holloh E.P.

Lastly, I’d recommend that you brush the dust off your Elvis collection, but to find out why you’ll have to come to the show!

Mercury Fur

Presented by Seven Siblings Theatre Co.
 Edit-2

Director: Will King
Assistant Director: Madryn McCabe
Lighting and Sound Design: Parker Nowlan
Stage Manager: Andreane Christiansen
Fight Choreography: Nathan Bitton
Fight Captain: Annemieke Wade
Set Design: Stephen King

Cast:
Elliot: Cameron Laurie
Darren: Andrew Markowiak
Naz: Adrian Beattie
Lola: Eric Rich
Spinx: Mishka Thébaud
Duchess: Annemieke Wade
Party Piece: Kenneth Collins
Party Guest: D. Gingerich

Where: Unit 102

When: Aug 27th to Sept 6th

Tickets & More Info: http://sevensiblingstheatre.ca/mercury-fur/ 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sevensiblingstheatreco
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SevenSiblingsCo 

FWYC Campaignhttps://fwyc.ca/campaigns/mercury-fur