VIVA is an original play by Vancouver Playwright Scott Button. This world premiere is being presented as a Co-Production by Aenigma Theatre and Bright Young Theatre at the Havana on Commercial Drive. A First production of an Experimental work, VIVA is a lyrical duologue that eventually transcends its boundaries and evolves into a far more complex theatrical experience. Prepare to confront the boundaries of morality and to be forced to re-examine your societal judgements as VIVA guides you through an ontological examination of love, loss, and the human capacity for extraordinary actions, both beautiful and terrible, steeped in magical realism.
I talked with the director and the lead actress about the company and the production.
Tanya Mathivanan- Director
What is this show about?
The Show is about two strangers, Alice and Graeme, both of whom have very tragic pasts. They’re each flying to Vegas for different reasons. Alice is trying to secure an organ on the black market for her dying brother. Graeme, on the other hand, is just heading there to party. He runs into a figure from his haunted past, however, that changes everything for him. Over the course of the night, Alice and Graeme’s lives intersect in the most unusual ways. The show’s structure is very unique, as it is presented like a duologue that eventually blends into one story.
You seem to be attracted to very heady plays. Why?
I think I am attracted to anything that stimulates me, be it intellectually or emotionally. With COPENHAGEN, RED, and No Exit, I remember being captivated by the ideas presented in the cerebral plays, and challenged to think about concepts in new lights. I had a much more visceral response when reading The Zoo Story, Dying City, and Blackbird however.Blackbird, in particular, really hit me in the gut, and moved me deeply. While it did engage me on an intellectual level, Affect was a much more powerful motivator in choosing to produce the play.
What do you want the audience to experience?
I want audience to experience something different in terms of storytelling. Scott Button has written a highly unique script that doesn’t adhere to regular spatio-temporal conventions. I want audience to really take the roller-coaster of a journey with Alice and Graeme. I would also like them to, hopefully, look at what little spaces like the Havana can do in terms of world-building differently.
Who do you play?
I play Alice. Alice is guardian to her much younger brother, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. At the beginning of the play, the audience meets her as she travels on a plane to Las Vegas, to purchase a kidney on the black market.
What has been the most exciting part of this rehearsal process?
One of the best parts of the process was having Scott (the playwright) in the rehearsal room and seeing the script grow and change as we worked on it. It was a dynamic rehearsal process and it felt very alive.
What has been the more challenging part of the rehearsal process?
The structure of the script makes it quite a challenge for an actor because it is essentially two monologues that are constantly interrupted by each other, with the added element of playing characters in each other’s stories and having very brief moments of connection.
What do you want the audience to experience?
Though the stories seem bleak, I want the audience to be reminded of the power of hope, of faith and of love that is capable of persisting through the most trying of times.
This stunning production features a number of up-and-coming Vancouver-based and international artists. The cast consists of Bright Young Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director Melanie Reich (Crimes of the Heart, Problem Child/End of Civilization) as “Alice”, and Aenigma Alum Patrick Dodd (Sense and Sensibility, RED) as “Graeme”. The production team includes: Co-Artistic Director of Aenigma Theatre, Sarah Melo, creating the Set, Alix Miller designing the Costumes, Chengyan Boon doing the Lights, and two-time Jessie Nominee Scott Zechner designing Sound. It is being Stage Managed by Javier Sotres and is directed by Tanya Mathivanan.
Aenigma theatre was founded by Tanya Mathivanan in 2013 with the belief that, in many ways, people are all enigmas, to each other as well as to themselves. Tanya’s diagnosis of Fibromyalgia at the age of 15 amplified her interest in exploring the complexities of the human condition. Together with Co-Artistic Director, Sarah Melo, and a team of talented designers, Aenigma Theatre seeks to engage the community emotionally and intellectually by applying its unique aesthetic to challenging, relevant plays.
Bright Young Theatre was formed in 2012 by Christine Bortolin, Jordan Kerbs, Melanie Reich, Joanna Williams and Ashley Noyes. They seek to engage the community by producing relevant scripts with a focus on rich and complex female characters.
The Havana | 1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver | October 14th to 21st at 8pm. October 15th, 21st, 22nd at 2pm. NO SHOW on October 16th| Pay-What-You-Can Preview on the 12th and 13th| Tickets $22 Regular; $18 Student| Purchase tickets online at https://tickets.theatrewire.com/shows/viva/events or at the Door |
David C Jones