From a multi-media drag musical, to a cardboard puppet show, and a story about vampires, Vancouver’s annual rEvolver Theatre Festival continues to push the envelope.
Now in its fifth year, the twelve-day festival presented by Upintheair Theatre is a showcase of original and provocative works from emerging and mid-career artists.
Among the offerings at this year’s festival are three shows from across the country, with artists from Halifax, Toronto and Montreal representing what is happening at the forefront of interdisciplinary live theatre arts in Canada.
Vancouver’s emerging theatre artists are well-represented as well, with productions from Luciterra Dance Company, Ode. Movements Society, rice & beans theatre, Wild Women Theatre, and Skinny Walrus Project.
Skinny Walrus is the brainchild of award-winning Vancouver director and actor Brian Cochrane, who brings his one-man show Vampires in Barcelona to this year’s festival.
Set in 2006 during a backpacking trip through Europe, Vampires in Barcelona is the true story of Cochrane’s chance encounter with a Hungarian who introduces him to some real-life bloodsuckers in the Spanish city.
Having just spent a romantic five-days in Paris with his girlfriend at the time, Cochrane found himself on a solo visit to Barcelona at the age of 22. On the rooftop of his hostel, a conversation with a fellow traveler would end with a supernatural twist.
“I met this heartbroken magician and he told me this crazy story about his girlfriend who had just left him for his best friend, and who just happens to be a vampire,” says Cochrane.
Spending time together, Cochrane eventually ventured to what his Hungarian friend purported to be a vampire bar. While perhaps a pale comparison to True Blood’s Fangtasia, the visit still shook Cochrane.
“I believed that everyone in the bar believed it was real enough, and I left in a hurry,” he admits.
When asked if he felt he was ever in any danger at the bar, Cochrane says he “wasn’t not“ worried for his safety.
“I was interested in exploring fear and the places our mind will go with enough suggestion and circumstance.” – Brian Cochrane
Describing his play as theatrical storytelling, Cochrane took inspiration from playwrights such as Conor McPherson and fringe festival favourites TJ Dawe and Martin Dockery. Perhaps not coincidentally, McPherson’s one-person play St. Nicholas also deals in vampires.
“I don’t impersonate characters, it is me telling the story in a fun and theatrical way,” says Cochrane.
More than an amusing, albeit somewhat terrifying, real-life story for the grandchildren though, Vampires in Barcelona does go a little deeper.
“It is a bit of a coming of age story,” says Cochrane. “Barcelona was the first time I had been alone in a foreign place, being bold and in love, and then meeting this guy who thought it was all so real.”
It is also an exploration of how reality can be shaped. “I was interested in exploring fear and the places our mind will go with enough suggestion and circumstance,” he continues.
It may also help explain why Cochrane insists Vampires in Barcelona is as true a story as ‘being sent to a vampire bar by a magician you met at a hostel’ can be when you’re telling it eleven years later.
Vampires in Barcelona plays as part of the 2017 rEvolver Theatre Festival taking place May 24 to June 4 at The Cultch. Visit http://revolverfestival.ca for tickets and information.