Featuring eleven mainstage shows, and an array of free and by-donation events, the 2018 rEvolver Theatre Festival gets underway at The Cultch on May 23 and continues through to June 3.
In our ongoing special series this week, we speak to some of the companies presenting at this year’s festival.
In our third Q&A, we chat with the creators of Geologic Formations to find out more about this immersive multidisciplinary performance.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us about Geologic Formations.
Geologic Formations is a new performance work melding immersive multidisciplinary performance, intimate personal narrative, and theory.
The work explores what creator mia susan amir, terms the present-unseen: the way socio-political events haunt the individual and collective body. The piece emerges from amir’s curiosity about her own daily experience of the present-unseen: invisible chronic illness, and the invisibilized antecedents of her chronic illness, which she identifies as the intergenerational impacts of war, genocide and displacement, specifically the 1943 liquidation of the Białystok Ghetto, Poland.
While historically inspired, Geologic Formations is a response to amir’s concern regarding the contemporary rise of fascism.
Why present Geologic Formations at the rEvolver Festival?
rEvolver features new, sophisticated and adventurous works by early-mid career theatre makers. Geologic Formations is intellectually stimulating, since it digs into complex themes like the intergenerational impacts of sociopolitical events.
The work also pushes formal innovation in theatre using unique, genre-bending approaches that mix personal narrative, choreography, audience immersion, complex sound, light, projection design, and more.
Fertile ground is opening across the country as the aesthetics, and innovations that Crip/disabled artists offer become more visible and their value more fully understood. We are excited to present Geologic Formations in the context of this growing trend, to make a critical contribution in further widening the space for artists and bodies rarely represented through mainstream theatre.
How is this production bringing something new to this story?
We’re inviting and challenging our audiences to come on a journey rooted in sensation, rooted in the somatic experiences that emerge from surviving violence, on the small and large scale. We’re giving space for the body to be a collaborator and active narrator in telling a story that is often relegated to the language of words.
Geologic Formations also represents the development of more nuanced public narratives about disability, and pushes the boundaries of what is considered possible on at the artistic level in relationship to Crip/disability theatre.
What has been challenging about bringing this script to life?
This work has been developed with a commitment to a Crip/disability approach to process design. This means we have centred the actual realities, needs, and limitations of the bodies, minds, and spirits of collaborators in the room towards ensuring equity and accessibility. This means we’ve been working on a time signature different from mainstream theatre, and one that values process as much as product. We believe that this translates immediately into the potency of the aesthetics we’re developing, but it also provides challenges when working towards fixed presentation dates.
Our process has also blended collaborative devising with very personal text by one author. An interesting challenge has been balancing collaborative experimentation with a deep appreciation for how this piece is rooted in mia’s lived experiences.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Anyone who’s interested in a theatrical experience that engages their body as well as their mind. Anyone who’s searching for more a nuanced, personal perspective on the contemporary rise of fascism, amidst all of media hype. Anyone who’s curious about how historic events can ripple through families, impacting the present.
What is going to surprise people about Geologic Formations?
We’re very fortunate to have Leah Weinstein as our set designer. We will be animating the space during the performance in fascinating and surprising ways, which contribute to the audience immersive nature of this piece. Our sound design, created by mastermind Nancy Tam, and our light and projection design created by the talented Dan O’Shea, collaborate in the development of this immersive world, in ways that cannot be anticipated.
Why would someone want to see Geologic Formations?
One of the central questions this work is asking is: what happens when narratives get buried? How do silences shape individuals, families and nations? I think everyone has struggled, at some point, to accept truths that make them uncomfortable. This is a work that invites us to lean into that discomfort, while interacting with a unique theatrical event.
The Greenhouse at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver)
May 23 8:00pm
May 24 8:00pm
May 25 8:00pm
May 26 2:00pm
May 27 7:30pm