A Uniquely Vancouver AGM and Exciting New Artistic Venture

Last night, Theatre Replacement Artistic Producer James Long played emcee to a rare and remarkable gathering of artists and theatre supporters that one would be hard pressed to find in any other city. The event was a joint Annual General Meeting for eight of Vancouver’s most dynamic companies: Theatre Replacement, Boca Del Lupo, Rumble Productions, Neworld Theatre, The Only Animal, Leaky Heaven Circus, Radix, and Electric Company Theatre.


The warmth and camaraderie was palpable as the groups gathered at the shared Progress Lab 1422, with the assembled individuals swapping stories, exchanging quips, and poking fun over the course of the evening. After each of the companies went up in turn to discuss the events of the past season and plans for the next, Long took a moment to remark on the uniqueness of what was occurring. Having just returned from Toronto that morning, he noted that such a gathering would simply never occur in the eastern city (not to slag it) and that there was a certain and special spirit of generosity in Vancouver that allowed such special partnerships to form and flourish.


The fascinating project launched toward the evening’s end is one that could only originate out of a such community of artists, as it demands deep comfort, complete trust, and an intimate familiarity with one another. The project is called ‘Obstructions’ and takes its inspiration from a Lars von Trier documentary, in which he challenges his mentor to repeatedly remake a film, each time with a different restriction.


For the Progress Lab’s interpretation of the project, three Vancouver theatre companies were selected to participate. Their peers at Progress Lab then worked together to devise three obstructions for each that would present specific challenges to their artistic practice. The companies will then create new plays utilizing these obstructions, and present them to the public in May of 2012.


Each company’s obstructions (delivered by shadowy figures speaking through a voice modulator) are as follows:


For Radix Theatre, an interdisciplinary, experimental company known for tackling weighty subject matter, Artistic Director Andrew Laurenson was challenged to:

1) Revisit and answer the central question of his work BEUTFL PRBLMS (a work Laurenson cited as being deeply challenging just earlier that evening).

2) Write the play in the style of a French Farce.

3) Perform the work on a set made out of carrots.


For Boca Del Lupo, a company whose is renowned for creation processes, which sometimes take years and productions, which extensively integrate projections, flying rigs, and similar technical elements:

1) They must perform the play in the empty space of Progress Lab 1422 using no electricity.

2) It must be created in the style of a satire.

3) The subject of their play must be taken from a random page of the May 18, 2012 business section (and they perform on May 19).


For Felix Culpa, a company known for verbose, articulate plays that use the power of language to explore concepts like morality and beauty:

1) The play must be biographical.

2) The play may be no more than 100 words.

3) It must be site-specific staging.


The opportunity to have one’s artistic process so challenged in such a supporting environment is an extremely rare one. Following the assignment of the obstructions, the energy of the room was absolutely crackling with excitement over the challenges, considerable work, and incredible potential that lay ahead.


We count ourselves very grateful to live in a community where our theatre artists are able to collaborate together to such ambitious ends. We encourage you to continue to check back here. We will keep you informed as information on the May public performances becomes available.


Categories: Musings