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March 20 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
An event every day that begins at 7:30pm, repeating until March 22, 2019
A Vista, a new work by Fight With a Stick Performance, is an ever-changing sequence of painted theatrical backdrops, bringing the background to the foreground.
This project works towards the limits of age-old theatrical technology, manual labour and hand painted scenic drops. It was developed through a multi-year exploration process with Fight With a Stick in residence at the Massey Theatre. A Vista is also a technical theatre term meaning to change a scene in front of an audience.
The Massey Theatre, celebrating its 70th year, is unique in that is one of the few remaining “hemp houses” in Canada. These hemp houses not only use hemp ropes to fly scenery in and out, they are the most direct manual system for flying scenery. The fly system and drops are either conventionally opposed to pre-cinematic technology by remaining still or thrust into cinematic sensationalism when a scene change occurs on stage before the audience, a highly choreographed event.
Drawing on an archive of painted backdrops in large part from the sets of the annual musicals presented at the Massey Theatre by Royal City Musical Theatre over its 30-year history, A Vista integrates notions of the obsolete with the contemporary. In this work, the labour and animations are much more about juxtaposition and collectivity than making or setting up a scene.
During the three-day event, a “crew” of performers and designers will animate approximately 45 backdrops, 15 each night, working to partner with the collective movement possibilities of the hemp house rigging system and the drops it holds. Each evening will focus on a different formal elements of the painted backdrops: Weds. Mar. 20th – Full Drops, Thurs. Mar. 21st – Portals, and Fri. Mar. 22nd – Legs. The drops are openly handled and revealed in an ever-changing performance in which no transition or backdrop is given more attention than any other.
The performance will have multiple viewing areas on and near the stage, so it is informal in terms of seating. Everyone is welcome to change seats at any time. While the work starts at 7:30 pm and runs until approximately 9:30 pm, doors remain open for the duration of the piece.
“Our process is about understanding the limits of the apparatus, the drops, and the crew at the Massey,” stated director Josh Hite. “We believe the performance will be of interest to anyone invested in art, performance, animation, precinematic technology, labor, history, and the Massey Theatre.”