Given our current political climate, the provocative title of Thomas Yungerberg’s play, Kill All Politicians, will certainly give pause.
Presented by Vancouver’s Vagrant Players Theatre Society, in its Canadian premiere, Kill All Politicians is the bitterly comedic story of Stu and Ben, two Washington twenty-somethings who are bored, stoned, and spending another night inexpertly dissecting senatorial vote-trading.
When a parking ticket sends Stu over the edge, he beings a plot to rid America of political misbehavior once and for all. Ben, however, begins to wonder if his friend’s vehemence stems from problems closer to home.
Chosen by co-directors Cody Kearsley and Megan Peta Hill for its sharp dialogue, eccentric characters, and insight into millennial angst, we find out more in this Q&A.
This interview has been edited.
What is Kill All Politicians about? Take me beyond the press release.
Cody: Kill All Politicians is basically one of those late-night, drug-induced college nights with your friends, where you come up with the perfect plans of how to change the world. You seem to have all the answers, the exact map to act them out, and by morning everything goes back to normal. This play captures the passion our youth has for change, but the lack of effort or persistence to do anything about it.
Megan: Yes, and the supporting cast of characters who influence and shift the trajectory of Stu and Ben’s journey are a fun way to play with different emotional and political positions. It’s an interesting exploration of who we listen to and allow to challenge our core beliefs.
Why two directors for the show? How does that work?
Cody: As a new company, especially in Vancouver, the workload can be intense with not enough people to get everything done. While we push forward we must divide our workload so we can not only produce quality theatre, but grow the company to build the platform on which to present said theatre. Having two directors allows us that. When one person is focusing on driving set pieces from location to location for construction, painting, etc. the other can focus on the creative side of the play. Also, because one of the directors is acting as well, we need a second pair of eyes.
Megan: Especially with a theatre in traverse, like Pacific Theatre, it’s super valuable to have two directors seeing the play from both angles, as the audience will.
The show is about American politics, what made you decide to produce it in Canada?
Cody: I don’t think it really is about American politics. It is set in America, yes, but its more about the way our North American democracy is structured and the unrest that our youth feels in the current political climate. American politics are very prevalent in Canada and I find people our age know more about the States then they do our own, so being set in America almost makes it more relevant.
Megan: It’s universal subject matter, and it’s also not partisan. These problems exist regardless of political affiliation, so it’s not for a party specific audience either.
What has been the chief source of inspiration for rehearsals?
Cody: For this play, because the political unrest is such a common topic, it was really about letting the characters’, sometimes extreme, views come out through the text. This play could be done numerous times, with different actors, with different political leaders in power, and still ring true and comical.
Megan: We spent a lot of our earlier rehearsals sitting with the text and having hours of open discussion with our team. It’s a very out-there concept so we definitely went over the top and having a cast of improvisers helped keep the exploration playful and fun.
Why should audiences not miss it?
Cody: First, Kill All Politicians presents a witty and intelligent look into the ignorant and uninformed passion the youth express through their knowledge, or lack thereof, of politics. It’s a hysterical and frightening dichotomy. And as I said before, we as a community, must support up-and-coming theatre companies to keep independent theatre alive in Vancouver. I try to go to as many plays as I can because we can’t just keep going to the same main stage productions that have been around for the last five decades.
Megan: The show couldn’t be more relevant than it is right now. Political unrest and resistance is always a part of people’s minds, but it feels so close these days. To approach this heavy topic from a comedic standpoint helps us look at it a new way, I think. Also, it’s pretty darn funny.
Kill All Politicians opens at Pacific Theatre (1440 West 12th Ave, Vancouver) on June 20 and runs until June 23. Visit vagrantplayers.com for tickets and information.