When you think about it, Tremors is the perfect name for a theatre festival that celebrates emerging talent. Especially one coming from a theatre company that calls itself Rumble.
“It is a play on the world ‘rumble’, a tremor being the slight hint of an earthquake,” says Stephen Drover, artistic director of Vancouver’s Rumble Theatre, organizers of the biennial festival. “It signifies the beginning of new careers, and larger things to come.”
Established in 2007, Tremors is an integral part of Rumble’s philosophy of supporting new talent, whether on stage, on the technical side, or behind-the-scenes.
“Rumble has always been very rooted in working with young artists,” says Drover. “We feel it is a solid investment in the longevity of Vancouver’s theatre community. It’s incredibly valuable to take that responsibility and put some weight behind these promising young artists who may have trouble getting in the door.”
It isn’t entirely altruistic though, as Drover sees the festival as benefiting his established theatre company.
“We want to harness the talent of the young artists in making Rumble’s work, rather than Rumble presenting their work,” explains Drover. “There are a lot of independent theatre artists who are not part of a company, and this is an opportunity for them, rather than having to go out and try to start their own.”
It also keeps Rumble, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, relevant.
“There’s something really exciting to have a ground swell of vital young talent coming through our doors,” says Drover. “It keeps us energized, and in knowing what it is young people are making, and going to see.”
Tremors has also become a breeding ground, with many artists now coming into their own after having been part of the festival in previous years. Drover points to people like Noelle Sediego who started at Tremors and has since become a professional stage manager, and the recent Babelle Theatre production of Movements 1&2 where many of those involved got their start courtesy of the festival.
“Not that we will take all the credit, but we hope we had something do with their positive trajectory,” says Drover.
This year’s Tremors Festival features three plays over its ten days, presented in such a way as it allows theatre-goers to see more than one each evening.
“It is like a Cineplex, where you can go to an early show and then you can go to see another,” says Drover.
The line-up this year includes Andrea Scott’s, Better Angels: A Parable. An immigrant story of a young woman brought from Ghana to Canada as a nanny, it is getting its first professional production since making a splash at last year’s SummerWorks Festival in Toronto.
“Andrea is a fantastic new voice and has great things to say,” says Drover. “It really speaks to what is going on in the world right now.”
Also on tap is Mike Bartlett’s Bull, described as “unflinching look at a toxic corporate culture from which no one escapes.” Bull marks the second play from the British playwright produced at Rumble, following the Jessie Award nominated Cock last year.
The third play is Dry Land by New York playwright, Ruby Rae Spiegel. Spiegel’s first full-length play, it explores what happens inside a high school locker room after everybody’s left.
“She wrote Dry Land when she was only 21 years old and it is really amazing this playwright is so young, as it is a remarkable piece of work,” says Drover.
Tremors Festival plays the Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre (3075 Slocan St, Vancouver) from August 11-20. Visit http://rumble.org for tickets and information.
[Editor’s Note (28 July): the interview was revised to reflect Rumble recently celebrating 25 years, not 30 years as originally reported. Reference to Better Angels as a “dark comedy” was removed. The age of playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel was corrected.]