Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Top Five of 2008

After yesterday's post I thought it only fair that I list my top five of 2008, but then I couldn't limit myself to just five because they were all so different, though I did refrain from including anything I worked on (becuase that wouldn't be fair!).

So here are the SIX shows I saw that deepened my appreciation for theatre in 2008, and what it was about each of them that stuck out:

Corteo (Cirque du Soliel)
My first ever Cirque show. The decadence on stage for only a moment of time. Spectacle to the greatest degree, and yet not hollow entertainment. I was so enthralled with what was going on that I couldn't applaud each act, for fear of missing a part of the next. It gave me a new appreciation for the possibility of what theatre is capable of with large budgets & new ways of storytelling.

Jake's Gift (Juno Productions & The Cultch)
The opposite end of the spectrum from Cirque: just a bench and a table on an otherwise empty stage. But the characters! Julia Mackey has created such a lovely pair of characters whose lives are woven together with such care. I sat in my seat with tears streaming down my face. To have characters that one can invest in so deeply is a marvelous thing.

The Tempest (Bard on the Beach)
What a feast for the senses. With a stunning cast, Meg Rowe's first attempt at directing was lovely. She had fantastic material to work with, but the decision to make Trinculo & Stephano women was richly funny. The Shakespearean language is always so rich, but this production really came alive for me.

Unity: 1918 (Theatre at UBC)
I've already raved a bit about this show here, but what I loved about it was the way it used design to help tell the story. With what appeared to be a very simplistic set, beautiful images were created that were individually poetic, but within the greater story they were stunning. It wasn't the strongestly acted student show I saw this year, but it had very strong direction.

No Exit (Electric Company & Virtual Stage)
One of the most unique uses of space & technology I have seen in theatre. Locking the actors in a small room and allowing the audience to watch them voyeristically on huge screens gave a whole new sense of the Hell that Sartre was intending.

The Space Between (Circa)
A cross between dance & theatre, this movement in this show made me re-examine the beauty of the human body. There was no set, just a blank stage, but the images that the performers created through their movements were strong & evokative.

This list certainly reflects my bias towards shows with strong images, but it also leans towards the fact that I love theatre that does what only theatre can do (something I picked up from some wise friends). The thing about all of these shows, despite their differences in budget, cast size, plot, theme, etc was that I left the theatre each time, feeling like my soul had been refilled. As though I had just discovered something new. And remembered that ultimately, theatre is about the relationship between the audience and the performers & we are each changed by what we collectively experience.

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