If you are anything like me, the impending February is giving you panic attacks. The sight of all the tests, assignments, exams (ARG, who gives exams in FEB?!) is making you cringe with fear…
Sometimes, you just need a break – and our campus provides many wonderful opportunities to chill-lax on a chilly night during a stressful week. Wednesday night, I went to the UniversityCollegeDramaProgram’s main stage production of the year, called Attempts on Her Life, by Martin Crimp, and directed by Michelle Newman.
The play, despite the fact that it was mandatory for me to attend (as a I am student in DRM100), resulted in what turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining experience. The play is a result of combined talent from students at the 200, 300 and 400 levels, with input in set design, lighting, props, production and of course, acting.
When I first entered through the south-side entrance at 79 St.George Street, I was greeted by a friendly young man who provided me with a ticket to the show. Generally, you can purchase tickets in advance, at UofTtix located at Hart House. Ticket reservations can be made there, and picked up till about 4:30pm. If you miss that time, tickets are generally available at the door of the play about 1 hour before it starts.
I, after resentfully forking up $10 for my student ticket, proceeded to the upper lobby of the “Playhouse” (officially known as the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse). Around 7:45pm, the doors to the stage entered, and a young lady ripped off a piece of my ticket at the door.
Upon entrance of the seating, your mind feels bombarded with technology. A large amount of technical equipment has been placed on the stage, including three TVs, video cameras, stage lights (which are all visible) and many, many, many wires. Behind the AUDIENCE (yes, the audience, not the actors), there is a large white screen that contains a pixel image like what you see on TV when the channel isn’t working (I call them the snow-flakes). You’re greeting with music by Radiohead, and the play starts promptly at 8:00pm, after you receive a program.
While I wont give away the show, I will tell you this – the play was well done. Attempts on Her Life is actually a very abstract, broad play that leaves the director many opportunities to experiment. The actual text of the play does not detail characters (so you don’t know who or how many people are saying what), and the choice languages throughout the play are not specified, except that there are foreign languages to be used. What this means is, as a viewer, its highly unlikely you will see this specific play performed in a similar way, because the directors have a lot of room to impose their personal visions for the play.
Many students in my DRM100 class said that they were confused – they didn’t understand what the play was about by the way it was acted in the show. This should not deter you from going to see the play, because what I think you need to know is: first, that the play is about exploring the many lives/personalities/options/things that one character can be – in this particular case, Anny – who is a car, a porn star, a murderer, a war suvivor etc. and the experimentation of how we can define a person, or many persons (at least, thats my layman’s interpretation). The second thing you need to know, is that drama isn’t really about “getting it” all the time…its not like a fable where you always need to take a moral or message from it. Drama, and in specfic, theatre, is really about tantalizing the senses – about sitting back and allowing yourself to get carried away in the wonder.
Because this play is naturally a little “kooky” as I like to put it, the theatre performance is, as well. We see everything from robots to guns, music videos to academic arguments. Special in this play is the video effects – the use of lighting, and videography as a real addition (if not enhancement) to the play and the way in which the characters choose to address each other.
The actors did a wonderful job – there was no holding back, which is really good. They seemed comfortable with their own bodies (and if I may say, sexuality) and this made the scenes work better, because the scenes of tension (especially sexual tension) were well manifested. The play was funny at times, and other times, a little heart-wrenching…some times you felt like you were peering into the keyhole of the door and seeing into someone else’s life, and other times, you wanted to just climb up on stage with them.
Haha, I was the only one in the front row of this performance, and there is one scene where the actors face the audience. Three actors stood right in front of me, looked at me, and used me as their scene. They appeared to be some sort of advertising agents, and they were looking at me and saying things like
“Ah ha! She’s someone who would open such advertisment” “yes and read it alone at the table and treasure it like a letter from her brother” “hmm, she’s not a smoker” “no, but I think she’ll grab a cigarette from someone else… like at a party” “she’d be the one to send back the form for the prize” “or better yet, she’d check the box for which one she’d like the best”
It was so funny, these three women staring right down at me, looming over me and I was trying so hard not to laugh, because I was afraid I’d distract the actors. Even in another scene, an actor was making faces at me during the music video…haha, sitting in the front row for this play was getting the full “in-yer-face” experience that the playwright, Martin Crimp, is quite famous for…
Ah, look at all the technical components I’ve gotten into! Sounds like I’m writing an academic paper! Haha, thats not my intention. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are open-minded, and you’re willing to take a risk, the UCDP’s production may be just the thing for your salvation-from-school needs.
Check it out – they’re playing at 8pm till Feb 7th (excluding Sunday, I think – check out the website) and post a comment about what you thought. It was worth the $10, and trust me, I don’t do stuff like that often.
Until Next Week….