12 Minute Madness. Photo by Chris Randle.
12 Minute Madness. Photo by Chris Randle.

Upintheair Theatre presents twelve days of new works by Canadian artists at the 2018 rEvolver Theatre Festival, including eleven mainstage shows, and an array of free and by-donation events.

In our special series this week, Vancouver Presents finds out more about some of the shows at this year’s festival.

In the second of our Q&As, we chat with Raina von Waldenburg, the writer and director of 12 Minute Madness.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Tell us about 12 Minute Madness.

12 Minute Madness is a true story about twelve twats and a harp. It’s a wild romp through a human psyche that is desperately trying to deal with the contradictory feelings surrounding trauma.

It’s about the first twelve minutes that occurred in my psyche after I recovered a memory of having been sexually abused as a child by my grandfather. The “characters” in the show are outrageous embodiments of the different parts of my psyche. They are clown caricatures.

Why present your show at the rEvolver Festival?

The rEvolver Festival celebrates work that is edgy. 12 Minute Madness pushes the boundaries of how sex abuse is normally perceived. It moves beyond the binary, and investigates the shades of grey and contradictions that actually occur in a human psyche. 12 Minute Madness simultaneously takes sex abuse very seriously and makes fun of it.

The twelve emerging female performers in the cast are trained in Grotowski’s Physical Theatre, clown, and Viewpoints. This show is funny, irreverent, and dark. There is dancing, singing, vulgar and candid language, twisted and comedic characters, and beautiful surrender of shame.

How is this production bringing something new to this story?

The production of 12 Minute Madness at the 2018 rEvolver Festival is especially relevant with the current #MeToo movement. The most recent iteration of 12 Minute Madness argues and supports the @MeToo and @TimesUp movements.

Also, we have re-cast half of the show since last year’s presentation at the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival. I have made significant rewrites and changed some of the characters. The rewrites and new cast members are bringing even more humor and levity to the show. If you can believe it, this show about sex abuse is not only fierce, but really fun.

What has been challenging about bringing this script to life?

Balancing my political, personal, and artistic ideals with those of the cast has been the biggest challenge of bringing this script to life.

12 Minute Madness is an excerpt of my full-length play Das Kaspar Theatre, first produced at New York University in 1998. The political and social climate in NYC in the 90’s was a very different one than Vancouver in 2018. Today as a society we are blatantly facing our denial and shame around racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, ageism, sizeism, and the many other forms of discrimination. As a result, we are experiencing a massive recalibration of deeply rooted structural patterns and systemic ways of thinking.

I believe that healing on a societal level begins with the individual. If we as individuals can become conscious of our own contradictions and discrimination, we can then be accountable. And when we are accountable we have the agency to make change, and recalibrate patterns. The opposite is also true. When we deny and suppress our own contradictions and discrimination, we disarm our agency to make change.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

The style of performance is unusual as most of the choreography is improvised by the twelve person ensemble, and is based in Grotowski Physical Acting and Viewpoints. The content is a candid, vulgar, humorous, and challenging look at a very hot topic. Who would love this?  University students, performers, artists, people in their 20’s and 30’s, for anyone person who survived, who are open to having a real conversation about sex abuse and the human psyche, survivors of sexual abuse, people who know survivors of sexual abuse, anyone who has experienced trauma. The point of this show is to say: we are not alone in our shame. Let’s talk about this.

What is going to surprise people about this show?

The candidness, the real conversations, the celebration of surviving sex abuse, the outrageous “characters”, the slurs, the improvisational skills of the cast, and seeing twelve twats on stage unapologetically exposing the truth.

Why should someone want to come see your show?

To heal. To accept. To face the crazy contradictions of our collective human experience. To not feel so alone in our shame. To laugh at ourselves. To feel connected to other people. Community. The essential motto of this play is: to accept all of humanity is to accept all of oneself.

12 Midnight Madness
The Historic Theatre at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver)
May 23 9:30pm
May 25 7:30pm
May 26 3:30pm
May 27 8:30pm