As I walked into the Pi office yesterday, a great feeling of accomplishment washed over me as I handed in the final budget. I did it! I completed my first professional production as a technical director/production manager and as a team we achieved this amazing project within our budget. What a fantastic feeling!!! HIVE was simply an amazing learning adventure.
I had first encountered the HIVE experience while attending the Magnetic North Theatre festival in the summer of 2008. As an audience member and theatre student, I realized that this was the kind of theatre I wanted to create and I’m proud to have been a part of this experience. It was not only in the way our company worked together, but it was in the way all the companies produced HIVE that was so inspiring to me. This group of companies were together, sharing the environment, and working as a whole…it was like nothing I had ever seen or worked with. These positive energies working together truly made the space buzz with excitement, encouragement, and support.
As we began working on the early stages of this production, every aspect of the Pi team was invited to be part of the creative process. We worked as a group imagining the space, discussing the house as an entity, and visualizing all the possibilities. We were all allowed the freedom of input and freedom of discussion. Personally, I love creating theatre in this fashion! You don’t really know where you’re going or what direction the piece can take you. But that’s all part of the adventure! As a technical director … well it’s hard to predict aspects of the overall technical elements if we are still playing right up, until or even past, opening night. But that’s what creates intriguing theatre, live theatre, living theatre… This ambiguity in creation allowed me the opportunities to problem solve in a non-traditional theatre environment. Because of the way we explored our project, I feel that I am now better prepared for my upcoming productions. It is directly from the support of this company that I am now continuing on my journey in technical direction. It is an honour to receive such positive feedback on my abilities and I am delighted to hear their appreciation with my work.
Within the HIVE environment it is the company that truly risks the most in its artistic presentation, which gains the most from this experience and the process as a whole. I believe that our team allowed ourselves the liberty of exploration and I am happy to say I helped put it all together. Thank you for this lovely experience and I hope to see you all soon!
I intended to sit down two weeks ago and write this in depth blog post that talked about the show we were creating and how it fit into the greater conversation that’s happening about devised theatre, but obviously that didn’t happen. (But you should still check out the conversation on devised work, especially the Arena Stage Convening.
Instead I find myself sitting here at my computer on closing night, thinking about what a fantastic journey these past three weeks have been.
On that first day of rehearsal we sat in the kitchen at Great Northern Way and told stories. We told stories about how we related to our homes & to our families. We listened to songs. We read old books. We talked about what we wanted this show to be. And we went from there.
During our week and a half of rehearsal, the show changed every day. Each time we thought we had it set, someone would come in the next day either with a concern or with a fantastic new idea we had to try. The rehearsal space was alive with ideas and energy.
And the response has been fantastic.
But now its time to say good bye. To move onto the next project. And to hope that in the near future my path will cross with that of each other person who worked on House/Home so we can create together again.
Lois’ Prime Placement was sponsored by Pi Theatre.
AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE! I really enjoyed the creative process in which Richard Wolfe led us towards making this piece. We made it by exploring our own feelings about being at home and I can tell this play has a bit of everyone that was involved in it. I had a really good time during the whole process and in the end I’m pleased to say that I learned a lot from everyone in my team.
The artistic concept was all about home and perception. This is why I played around with many common elements of a regular house (doors, windows, etc.). Then I put them all in a way to play with the perception of the audience, because finally we all perceive life from our unique point of view.
When we got to the Centre for New Digital Media and started building and realizing all the drafts, colors, and started carving away at the general idea it was amazing and I felt like I was playing around in a big artistic camp sharing this wonderful space with a lot of talented people. What an experience!
I can now say I have fallen in love with theatre in Vancouver and also I’m very grateful to be a part of the Prime Placements Program!
Roxana’s placement was sponsored by Ian Forsyth.
Todd Thomson is The Man in our upcoming production of House/Home at Hive. He took some time out of his busy rehearsal schedule to write a bit about his experience in the show:
HIVE THREE!!! AMAZING! Hive represents an unparalleled opportunity for artists from all disciplines of theatre (lighting, set-design, costumes, stage-management, acting, directing, etc, etc, etc,) to come together and create theatre. For me, the feeling of camaraderie and unity that Hive engenders among artists is what makes this event so unique and praiseworthy.
Theatre creation can be a “sticky-bit-of-business.” My participation in Hive has only furthered my understanding that very few rules exist when creating a piece of work. Inspiration can come from a song, an image, a quote, a word, a physical movement, a conversation you’ve overheard and/or looking out the window while sipping you’re morning cup of coffee. The process of integrating these ideas into a distilled, though not necessarily linear, piece of theatre, coupled with the perceptions of these ideas by individual artists is the tricky, yet beautiful process that we, at Pi Theatre, are currently undertaking.
In today’s world it is easy to feel isolated and/or detached from oneself and the world around us. I feel at Hive, an incredible sense of community and belonging and it is my belief that this feeling will be translated to the audiences that come to see HIVE.
Todd is thrilled to be participating in HIVE 3 with Pi Theatre. Previous theatre credits include; The Flannigan Affair with the Electric Company at Hive 2, My Acid Trip (Solo Collective), Refugee Hotel (Theatre Passe Muraille) The Patient Hour (Tarragon Theatre), The Bond (Pound of Flesh Theatre Company Espresso (Pacific Theatre), Kilt (Belfry Theatre), and four seasons with Bard on the Beach.
Sasa Brown is The Woman in our upcoming production of House/Home at Hive. She took some time out of her busy rehearsal schedule to write a bit about her experience in the show:
Well, it is officially one week since we started rehearsals for Hive now. Usually that means, no sweat we have two more weeks to go with a couple of previews. But, since it is Hive, it actually means we have 2 and 1/2 days left to rehearse before the public sees what we’ve got!!! The slight nausea I feel in my stomach from thinking of opening is only tempered by the thought that: We are all in it together! And by “all”, I not only mean the fabulous Pi team but also the greater Hive family.
That family includes friends and collegues from other shows and other companies that help make the theatre scene in Vancouver. It is great to have tea time with Kendra, quick chats with Adrienne, rough house with Ami and catch up on the day’s events with Naomi. Being in the same “room” or warehouse with all these people is what keeps me grounded, connected and excited for opening. It is also what pushes me to not sit back and ever be satisfied with my work. Those people inspire me to pull up my socks and push myself. They are all exceptional.
Back to the clock…tick,tick… it is 9:30 am now and we start our day at noon. My thoughts range from: I must be ready to go. I must make my lunch. I must warm up. I must change into something grubby. I must have fun. I must be there for the Pi team. I must take risks. I must remember to play.
See you on the other side!
Sasa is thrilled to be back working with Pi Theatre for her second performance in the HIVE trilogy. Sasa is a Vancouver based actor and instructor who trained at UBC (BFA Acting Program) and most recently in Paris at Ecole Philippe Gaulier. Some of her recent acting credits include: Black Comedy, Doubt, It’s a Wonderful Life (Arts Club), Summer of My Amazing Luck (Gateway),The Dissemblers ( Touchstone),Bone in Her Teeth, Salome, Giant Consortium, Hive 1 (Leaky Heaven Circus), The Blue Horse, Bluebeard and His Wives (Caravan Farm Theatre), Arabian Night (Pi/ Axis), The Skinny Lie (Green Thumb), Spank!(Virtual Stage), Macbeth (Pound of Flesh) and Madama Butterfly(Vancouver Opera). Sasa has also been a Movement Director for Memorial University of Newfoundland and is the recipient of two Jessie Awards.
Working for HIVE 3 has taken me to an unknown creative place. Although the collaborative factor is always present when producing theatre, my work in this project has expanded my understanding of what that word means.
About a month ago, none of us had a clear idea of what the piece was going to become. As a first step, our Director took us to the space in order to experience out what it conveyed in its vibration and architecture. We all got together later on to talk about what each one of us saw through it and started developing a general concept to the piece.
Working as a group together with performers from very early stages in the process has been one of the most interesting aspects of this project for me.
While sometimes the idea of embracing the “not-knowing” (as Richard Wolfe well describes it) can make me nervous, learning to let the play become what it wants to be and to see it change directions at any given moment has been fascinating. I am very grateful to Pi Theatre and my sponsors through Prime Placements for this opportunity that no doubt, has pushed me beyond my own boundaries.
Prime Placements is Pi’s emerging artists showcase. This program provides an opportunity for emerging artists to gain professional experience and mentorship. It provides a much-needed bridge between training and professional status, and gives emerging artists experience in professional independent theatre. Past program participants include Jamie Nesbitt, Jergus Oprsal, Josue Laboucane, and Tara Goertzen.
This year, we’re thrilled to announce several sponsors who have come on board to support the work of these artists.
Carmen Alatorre, Costume Designer, sponsored by Theatre at UBC and VancouverPlays.com
Jacqueline Breakwell, Dancer, sponsored by Casting Workbook
Roxana Chapela, Set Designer, sponsored by Ian Forsyth
Lois Dawson, Assistant Stage Manager, sponsored by Pi Theatre
Carmen Hung, Lighting Designer, sponsored by Alan Brodie
Stacy Sherlock, Technical Director, sponsored by Theatre at UBC
The Prime Placement program is also generously supported by Max Reimer and one anonymous supporter.
These sponsors recognize the importance of giving these emerging artists an opportunity to gain professional experience and mentorship. Prime Placements provides a much-needed bridge between training and professional status. Our audiences gain the opportunity to discover their talent, and our professional artistic associates are challenged and invigorated by new energy and ways of working.
We are very grateful for their support. Three cheers for our sponsors!
Since its inception, Hive has embraced the notion of risk. This project is no exception. From the first time I walked into the Digital Media Centre warehouse in preparation for Hive 2 back in 2008, I was intrigued by the little room at the top of the stairs. It spoke to me. A couple of weeks ago a remarkable company of actors, stage managers, technicians, designers and friends set about transforming the little room into a fully animated house and home. We invite you in for a visit.
There is a reason why a theatre piece is called a “play.” In the end, isn’t the theatre just like a playground for us to enjoy and explore?
The creation process of HIVE 3 with Pi Theatre is very novel to me. I couldn’t agree with Jacqueline more: it is like an adventure. Most of my previous theatre productions have a very similar production schedule - 1-2 months of rehearsal, 1-2 weeks for load-in and tech, and 1-2 weeks run — and the text of the production is usually decided long before the rehearsal process. Yet for HIVE 3 we have condensed the whole creation, rehearsal, and technical process into a total of a week and a half, where everything starts from scratch. As a lighting designer, such production timeline is fascinating but also immensely challenging.
The stress comes from the uncertainty and the evolving nature of the piece. Many theatre companies like to hire lighting designers at the very last stage for similar reasons: it is difficult, though not impossible, for one to make lighting decisions without knowing what the final piece would look like. Say, noting where the performers would pause, or stand, or sit on stage, I could put a couple lighting instruments for that area to highlight the dramatic moment. But without knowing where the performers would be, or what they would do, a lighting designer needs to adapt to any new changes of the piece very quickly in order to achieve similar lighting effects.
But these are all about conventions; and for HIVE 3, there are none. This is where the fun and play comes in.
As much as I admit that this is a challenging process, HIVE 3 is also one of the most fun productions I have collaborated in. It is very rare for a lighting designer to be able to participate in the creation process from Day 1, and I enjoyed it so much that I would much prefer spending more time in rehearsals then simply lighting a show without being able to witness the progression of the piece. True, this requires a lot more human resources and time investment — for the crew, technical director, and the designers. But this also makes me realize how fluid and experimental theatre could be and, perhaps, should be.
I love how Colin Thomas from Georgia Straight sums up The Draw for HIVE 3:
“The companies give themselves permission to fail, which is exhilarating for all of us.”
Permission to fail — what a great way to put it. This is about process and this is about exploration. What is intriguing about live theatre is the fact that it is not static; no two performances could be the same. But what I also found interesting is that the process of HIVE 3 is very similar to what Robert Lepage proposes as theatre without picture lock. HIVE 3 is a living experiment of what creativity and theatre could be. We have the space and the resources — now just play and see what comes out in a week and a half. Looking at the creation process of HIVE 3, where there have been moments when we thought we have nailed down the piece but then we went back to the beginning and reinvented the piece, this is incredibly fascinating to see how much fun we could have just by taking risks and embracing opportunities and new ideas. All of us in the Pi team are like riding a roller coaster that we know not where the end-point would be. But one thing is for sure: all of us are having fun, and this is what a “play” should be.
Carmen’s Prime Placement is sponsored by Alan Brodie.
Jacqueline Breakwell is dancing in our upcoming production of House/Home at HIVE as part of our Prime Placements Program. She took some time out of her one day off from rehearsal to day to write a bit about her experience on the show:
So it is our first day off from rehearsal since we started this adventure. Wow! Time is going fast! I use the word adventure, because that is what this process has been. Meeting and working with the cast and crew as a unit towards making this piece has taken me to many different places. In exploring our possibilities we have gone from one side of the spectrum to the other, to somewhere where we didn’t think we would or could go and then back to something more concrete. I shouldn’t really say concrete as what we are creating morphs and changes and grows everyday we visit it. But it seems now that we have quite a solid grasp on what it is we want to send out into the universe.
It has been a lot of playing and trying new things. Finding what works and what doesn’t, and then finding what we thought worked didn’t and finding something way more on target for what we wanted to express. It really has been a different process then what I am used to. As we don’t have a script, there is much more time spent conversing about what we feel about the piece and what we want to say with it and such. With a script, most of that is done for you and you just add to it and style it to what you want. This is just everybody working on a different level and getting the opportunity to explore and create.
Speaking of opportunity, it has been a fantastic opportunity to come onto this project. Especially as a Prime Placement! I said before this is different then anything I have done, and it is nice to get a break from the usual Musical Theatre that I do. I also have the opportunity to work with some fantastic individuals. Everyone involved is so special and unique. I know that sounds sappy and cliché but it’s true! Everyone brings something different to the table (literally sometimes when we work at the table up in the kitchen) and we are able to use one person’s idea and flow with it into another as the piece expands and grows. I am very lucky and happy to be a part of this adventure!
I also have to say that the set and the costumes rock! We don’t have all the lighting elements in yet, but I know that those are gonna rock too. Everyone is so passionate about what they are doing. Now it is time to work out all the little bits. Another few days and we will be inviting you all over for a visit!