Members of the cast of This Stays in the Room.
Members of the cast of This Stays in the Room.

One can’t help but see a tiny bit of irony as the award-winning play This Stays in the Room moves from the Downtown Eastside art gallery in which it was originally staged, to a more traditional theatre space on Granville Island. But don’t let its move to a different room fool you, this unique and moving experience” isn’t straying far from its intimate roots.

[pullquote]“These are very personal stories and most of it is performed directly to the audience and the audience needs to be able to feel that connection. The performers need to feel that they are presenting in an intimate environment and the audience is being let into an intimate part of these people’s lives. The audience is a crucial part of that.” – director Mindy Parfitt[/pullquote]“It was really important for me and the piece to do it in an art gallery, but I also wanted to see how the piece could translate to a more traditional theatre space and how it could have a life in that environment,” says director Mindy Parfitt.

Calling it an experiment to determine how flexible the play is to the environment in which it is performed, Parfitt and her team are working to ensure that the intimacy of the piece is retained by having the audience on stage with the actors, with the curtain drawn.

“My sense is that as long as we can maintain that sense of intimacy it will be successful,” says Parfitt. “These are very personal stories and most of it is performed directly to the audience and the audience needs to be able to feel that connection. The performers need to feel that they are presenting in an intimate environment and the audience is being let into an intimate part of these people’s lives. The audience is a crucial part of that.”

Hoping to prove that the piece can move into the more traditional theatre setting, albeit non-traditionally, Parfitt is also hopeful that by presenting it in this manner it opens up the possibilities for the play to be performed elsewhere.

“I wanted to see the piece get a life outside of Vancouver at a time when national and international presenters are here for Push,” says Parfitt. “We had such a great reception to the piece that when this opportunity came up we jumped at the opportunity for more people to see the show.”

An exploration of themes around shame, forgiveness, vulnerability and hope, This Stays in the Room is a collection of real-life stories told by the actors who lived them. From the first sexual experience at the hands of an older man to the confessions of a sex addict, the stories are what our reviewer called “charming, engaging and raw”.

But This Stays in the Room didn’t start out life in its current form.

Director Mindy Parfitt is determined to see This Stays in the Room get a second life.
Director Mindy Parfitt is determined to see This Stays in the Room get a second life.

“Alexa Devine and I from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades had wanted to do a collective piece for some time, and we sat down about three years ago and talked about things we were interested in, things we were grappling in our own lives, global issues,” says Parfitt.

As they began to distill the issues they talked about, they discovered that there were similar themes of shame and forgiveness that kept coming up, and which laid the ground work for what was to come next.

The initial thought had been to use the stories as a springboard to something else, something fictional, but they soon realized that truth will always wins out.

“When we got the stories and started working with them, over time it became clear the strongest material were those true stories,” says Parfitt.

This Stays in the Room plays the Waterfront Theatre (1412 Cartwright St, Granville Island) February 4-7. Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets or visit http://tsitr.com for more information.