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Friday, June 14, 2024

All Good Things is about the journey, not the story

Boca del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series comes to a close for the year with a presentation of Bruce Barton’s All Good Things, where the true life story upon which it is inspired takes a back seat to creating a new and different theatrical experience.

[pullquote]”There is no question that it has a significant impact every time I hear the story told, but it really is less about hearing the story as it is seeing someone experience it.” – writer and director Bruce Barton[/pullquote]Originally commissioned for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s Rhubarb Festival in Toronto, All Good Things first began as a unique one-to-one interaction between a single performer and a single audience member. Partly scripted and partly improvised, the audience member and performer inhabited a space for the thirty minute performance.

“One of the challenges and what excited me about doing this piece was in being able to do something that had many of the qualities of traditional theatre, but where the expectations of the spectator were turned upside down,” says Barton. “We had a story and ideas, but we wanted to talk to the audience, not just at the audience.”

Evolving since Barton first began to talk to Boca del Lupo’s Sherry Yoon about bringing the piece to Vancouver, he has been working with performer Martin Julien in expanding the piece to be performed in front of a group of eleven at each performance.

All Good Things writer and director, Bruce Barton,
All Good Things writer and director, Bruce Barton,

“We began the conversation about what it might look like if we opened it up to a larger audience,” says Barton. “It is a slightly different performance with ten people watching, and while it has been reimagined, the experience of the solo audience member is still there, while being able to share the experience with the rest of the audience as well.”

Working with the dimensions of the tiny Anderson Street Space on Granville Island, the location of many of Boca del Lupo’s MPS shows, Barton says that they have really tried to make that space an asset to this new group event.

“The piece already had this great tension between the rehearsed material and the material that not rehearsed, and now this new dimension of additional audience members in the room creates a whole layer on top of that,” he says.

The new format has also been a bit of a revelation for Barton, on whose personal life-changing event All Good Things is based on.

“Before we opened it up for Boca del Lupo I had never seen it with an audience before,” says Barton. “I’ve never seen someone else experience it before because it was always just a single audience member and performer. There is no question that it has a significant impact every time I hear the story told, but it really is less about hearing the story as it is seeing someone experience it.”

Despite Barton’s assertion that the story on which the piece is inspired is not what All Good Things is about, it still plays an integral role in helping an audience get to the final destination.

“It is central to the piece, but not necessarily what the piece is about,” Barton insists. “It is based on something that happened to me, and it will not come as a surprise that it encourages you to reflect on your own life; a reflection that is provoked by a traumatic experience.”

For Barton, it is obviously through these events that the larger themes he is intent on exploring begins to take shape.

“The story is intentionally ambiguous,” he says, “because we want to be careful that the audience members can interpret it for themselves. The piece is ultimately about reflecting back on one’s life and the choices we have made, how well we have lived, the priorities we set and an assessment of how we have lived our lives.”

For Barton, it has been important to ensure that reflection feels authentic, and based on the feedback they have received they seem to be on the right track.

“One of the things [audiences] all talk about, apart from the relationship with the performer, is the high-level of intimacy and the care that the piece has taken of them. We know we hit the mark when people say that. They feel taken care of, feel present and the piece is present for them.”

All Good Things plays The Anderson Street Space (1405 Anderson St, Granville Island) from June 26 to 29.  Visit for tickets and information.

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