"As a theatre practitioner, I love working on projects that break the rules, make new ones, and are fueled by joy and curiosity. This festival, and the work it invites in, exceeds that criteria." - Amanda Testini

The Pull Festival, Vancouver’s annual festival of ten minute plays, returns for its eighth year featuring new works from Vancouver-based playwrights.

In the latest in of our special series with this year’s Pull Festival directors, this week we chat with Amanda Testini.

This interview has been edited.

Why did you decide to submit your name to direct at this year’s Pull Festival?

Every time I’ve attended the Pull Fest it’s been inspiring, interesting and hella fun – I wanted to be part of it.

As a theatre practitioner, I love working on projects that break the rules, make new ones, and are fueled by joy and curiosity. This festival, and the work it invites in, exceeds that criteria.

Tell us about the plays you are directing.

In Mike Gill’s Everybody’s Free (to summon the devil)Jimmy is trying to summon Satan in order to communicate with his deceased best friend, but accidentally summons two lesser demons instead. It’s a piece that explores grief with both comedy and heart.

Controller 1.0 by Mily Mumford is an interactive, choose your own adventure play. We follow two soldiers who are completing their first remote drone strike operation, and you, the audience, gets to decide what happens along the way.

Mike Gill (left) and Mily Mumford (right) are among seven emerging playwrights who will have their work performed at this year’s Pull Festival.
Mike Gill (left) and Mily Mumford (right) are among seven emerging playwrights who will have their work performed at this year’s Pull Festival.

What is it about the plays you are directing that excites you the most?

Everybody’s Free (to summon the devil) has some really interesting sequences that will require creativity with the staging, so I’m looking forward to that. Also, the play takes a difficult subject and explores it in a way that’s funny, relatable, and weird. I’m excited to explore with it.

With Controller 1.0, there are so many different outcomes and variations to the script, all depending on what happens in the moment with the audience. I’m excited to rehearse for this so that we feel we have a strong shape, no matter the outcome, but that none of us get too attached to anything in order to remain open to possibility of what happens during performance.

The plays are just ten minutes in length – as a director does this frighten you or excite you?

Both. I want to be able to fully enrapture an audience into the world I’m creating, and with a 10 minute play, that’s gotta be done quick. Exciting! Scary!

Do you approach directing a short play the same way you do a full-length play?

Story telling fundamentals are basically the same, no matter what the length, but every play is it’s own beast. What Everybody’s Free demands will be different from the demands of Controller 1.0.

With shorter plays there will be shorter rehearsal time, so it’ll be the process that I approach most differently. I believe with every show, a society is built: we develop a shorthand, we have an identity within the context of the group, we have time to test boundaries during rehearsal. With a much shorter process, there will be less time to do this, which means more trust, precision and diving right in.

Why should someone want to come see the plays you are directing?

Demons! A possessed cat! Best friends! Inspiring words of wisdom! Video games! War! A game show host! Literally having the power to choose what happens next … in a play!

Seriously though, you’ll get to see six new works by six wicked cool playwrights, acted by a company of super talented local actors.

Did I mention Pull Fest is hella fun?

Pull Fest VIII takes place at the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver) March 27-30. Visit http://pullfestival.ca for tickets and information.