What’s in a name? If you call yourself Twenty Something Theatre, it is one that conjures up images of artists just out of their teens, looking to find their place within the theatre landscape, or desperate to see themselves represented on stage. And while founder and artistic producer Sabrina Evertt admits that she has now stepped over the threshold into her thirties, it does not mean she has forgotten her company’s roots.
“It’s been ten years now, and I’m definitely not twenty something anymore,” laughs Evertt. “And while Brian [assistant artistic producer Brian Cochrane] and I have been talking about what to do next, it is still important for us to support emerging artists and to offer shows for younger audiences.”
In fact it is the company’s mandate – to enhance Vancouver’s theatre community with productions that entertain and evoke the lives of today’s young people – that has made Twenty Something Theatre such an important and vital part of Vancouver’s independent theatre scene.
From the Jessie award-winning Bomb-itty of Errors in 2014 to fostering new works that have included Sean Minogue’s Prodigals and Julie McIsaac’s The Outvigil (which will get its world premiere this year at the Firehall Arts Centre), Twenty-Something Theatre may be growing up, but it is not losing any of its relevance.
Case in point is the opener for the company’s tenth season, a production of Philip Ridley’s explosive and poetic, Tender Naplam, that tells its story of two people struggling to survive a major traumatic event in their lives through a blend of movement, music and language.
“I find that a lot of theatre in Vancouver tends to be fairly natural or classic, which is great, but this play is completely different,” says Evertt. “It lives in this world between real life and fantasy where the other layers evoke a larger-than-life scale to it.”
It was the addition of those additional layers – including movement from choreographer Joel Sturrock and original music from Julie Casselman – that first attracted Evertt to Tender Napalm.
“It is something that I hadn’t done with Twenty Something before, and I was very excited about melding them together,” she says.
Because its story is told outside a typical linear narrative, it has made for some interesting challenges for Evertt, who directs the piece. It also opens the creative possibilities given Ridley provides few stage directions in his script.
“He really leaves it up to you,” says Evertt. “There is one stage direction though that says ‘it’s like they dance through the journey of their relationship’ that really evokes the whole piece.”
Tender Naplam plays the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver) October 23-November 8. Visit http://twentysomethingtheatre.com for tickets and information.