October 9, 2018 - 11:00am
The Malaspina Theatre at VIU’s 2018-19 performance lineup includes Concord Floral, No Exit and Oedipus Rex performed by students.
From a creepy, murder-thriller, to a play set in hell, to a re-envisioned Greek classic, Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Malaspina Theatre explores a range of themes this year.
The Theatre’s 2018-19 season includes two mainstage plays – Concord Floral (October 25 – November 3) and Oedipus Rex (March 7-16); and – new this year – one play will be performed in the intimate studio space in Building 330, No Exit (December 5-7).
“What I like about this season is the scope of the plays we’ve chosen,” says Leon Potter, Theatre Department Chair. “We have a modern Canadian play, followed by the 20th century classic, and then we finish with a Greek tragedy that is literally the foundation for anything tragic that has happened for the past 5,000 years story-wise. We’ve got a really nice, broad scope with a little bit of everything for everybody.”
Concord Floral, by award-winning Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, was developed by a group of young people exploring the issue of bullying, which makes it very timely and relevant, says Theatre Professor Ross Desprez, who will direct the fall play. The play is set in an abandoned greenhouse that has become a hangout for neighbourhood teens. While there, one girl drops her phone down an elevator shaft, where it lands in the chest cavity of a dead body. When she gets home, her friend’s phone rings and the number on the call display is the phone that landed in the body.
“I chose the play because it requires a cast of young people and the message of the play is relevant to a modern audience,” says Desprez. “The play has a very mysterious, ominous quality that really grabs the audience and forces them to reflect on their own actions. Also, the production style presents some exciting and challenging elements for the creative and production team.”
Next up is No Exit, a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. This will be the first production hosted in the Mike Taugher Studio, a space below The View Gallery in Building 330.
“There will be a maximum of 30 seats in the studio and it will be done ‘in the round,’ which means audience members will encircle the performers,” says Potter, who is directing the play.
No Exit follows three characters locked in a room together in the afterlife.
“It’s about three people who will never get along stuck together for all of eternity, and they realize that hell isn’t about being tormented constantly with torture devices – hell is technically other people,” says Potter.
In March, the theatre takes on Oedipus Rex by Sophocles – an Athenian tragedy in which Oedipus, king of Thebes, discovers he has unwittingly fulfilled a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother.
Director and VIU Theatre Professor Eliza Gardiner is portraying Oedipus as a modern-day, corporate, “king of the world” character who falls from grace because of his misdeeds. Four students in her directed studies class will help with the research and creative thinking required to re-develop the script. Gardiner also plans to reverse the gender of some roles.
“People are so intrigued with conversations about crime and punishment, and the tragedy about how Oedipus handles the trauma of his ill-fated truth-seeking is one with which audiences have identified for thousands of years,” she says. “The play makes people think about social constructions and infractions against our moral code, such as infanticide, abandonment, murder, incest, suicide and self-mutilation. It is such a deep play, and our adaptation will take audiences on a journey that relates to current political debate on what defines justice.”
For more information, visit the Malaspina Theatre homepage.
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University