Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Will King’

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.

“Picasso & Einstein walk into a bar…” – In Conversation with Will King & Dylan Evans of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”

Interview by Ryan Quinn

RQ: Tell me a little about the show itself and your production of it.

WK: Steve Martin (the established comedian, actor, writer, banjo aficionado) has written a play that features a young Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein at the tipping point of their careers. It takes place at the Lapin Agile, a fictional bar in 1904 Paris, where notable intellectuals and visionaries go to talk about their manifestos. It also features a wide range of characters that gravitate to that space. It expertly deconstructs the intersection between art and science, and somehow manages to remain brilliantly funny.

We’re doing it site-specific at an event space in Kensington Market called Round. When we decided to produce it, we knew we wanted to get away from a traditional performance space. We wanted our audience to see the sparks fly between the actors, and really feel immersed in their revelations. We also thought they might like a beer!

IMG_1484

RQ: In what ways do you think this show questions how we look at art or innovation?

DE: This play challenges anyone’s personal definition of art. Einstein argues that his scientific discoveries are art, whereas Picasso dismisses these as mere equations. Steve Martin tells us that science is more than numbers: it’s a vision, it’s imagination, and then it’s trying to capture that and turn it into something calculable. We can’t dive into a black hole, or travel to other solar systems, but we can dream it. And then we can take that dream and see if we can prove it.

RQ: How do you think your choice of site-specific theatre informs or enhances the piece?

WK: I love the intimacy. Performing in the round (pun intended) just feels right.

DE: I had a very clear image in my mind of what I envisioned the space looking like. When we walked into The Round for our photo shoot I was blown away by how much the space looked like what I had imagined. I had no trouble believing that I had just entered a bohemian Paris bar circa 1904. It makes a huge difference as a performer, and hopefully for the audience too. You’re right there in the bar with us. You can grab a drink and be a fellow patron in the Lapin Agile with a host of eccentric characters. So it is definitely an engaging performance and the wonderful venue is a big part of that.

RQ: What can you tell me about Seven Siblings theatre?

WK: Madryn, Erika, and I founded Seven Siblings Theatre while gaining our teacher certification at the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium in Kent, Ohio. We shared the same ideals of theatre, a similar process, and wanted to bring more Fantastic Realism into Toronto’s indie theatre community. We aim to help artists develop their psychophysical connection, and dig deeply into the atmospheres of each production. By the end of each process, our artists have a range of tools and exercises from the Michael Chekhov work to play with.

IMG_1645 (1)

RQ: Why did you choose this piece as your next production?

WK: I am adamant that everything we work on needs to present a new challenge. We’ve played with malleable classical text, highly dangerous subject matter, explosive absurdist and visual performance styles, and now we’re tapping into an immersive experience. This is one of the most playful pieces I’ve ever worked on, and the incredible duality between farce and intelligence made it a no-brainer.

RQ: If you were going to set this show in 2016, which people would be the closest parallels to the way this show characterizes Picasso and Einstein?

WK: That’s a tough one. A lot of the charm in this piece is that they’re diamonds in the rough.

DE: [In terms of banter] Stephen Hawking and John Oliver (because that first interview was too good not to have a sequel). Bill Nye and Bob Ross. Spock and Han Solo.

WK: Yeah. Einstein’s definitely the Han Solo of this show.

RQ: If you could give this show a soundtrack, what three songs would be must-haves?

DE:
The Scientist – Coldplay
The Life of Pablo (the entire album) – Kanye West (Tidal required)
Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65

WK:
Bistro Fada – Stephane Wrembel (watch Midnight in Paris for context)
Space Oddity – David Bowie
Sounds of Science – Beastie Boys

DE & WK:
*Bonus Track* Tubthumping – Chumbawamba

 

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Presented by Seven Siblings Theatre

12494796_409711225904049_4751960345749307790_n

A play by Steve Martin

Who:
Directed by Erika Downie
Featuring Dylan Mawson, Jamie Johnson, Madryn McCabe, Will King, Erin Burley, Erik Helle, Dylan Evans, Andrew Gaunce and Maxwell LeBoeuf
Stage Manager Jocelyn Levadoux
Production Manager Kate MacArthur
Lighting Designer Parker Nowlan
Dialect Coach Margaret Hild

Run Time: 90 minutes

When:
February 25 at 7:30pm
February 26 at 7:30pm
February 27 at 2:00pm (Matinee)
February 28 at 7:30pm

Tickets:
February 25-28 $25

Where:
Round, 152A Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market, Toronto, Ontario

Tickets: http://www.sevensiblingstheatre.ca/picassoatthelapinagile/

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