EDEN Log – Week 2

EDEN Playwright’s Log – Hope McIntyre

We’ve just finished the second week of rehearsals and wrapped it up with a first stumble-through of the play. It’s wonderful to see the play take shape in a first run and get a real sense of how it all fits together. The actors get a real feeling for their character’s through-line and the designers get a clear sense of technical needs. This show does certainly have its technical challenges with both recorded video and live video feed. There is a camera on stage that will project live footage but also an actor offstage who has video conversations with characters on stage. This all means balancing the rehearsal time with working the live action and shooting video footage. It’s amazing though to picture what it will be like when it all comes together!

Kevin P. Gabel as Adam and Andrea del Campo as Ev; Photo by Janet Shum

As things continue to progress beautifully in the rehearsal hall, I am still hit by things outside that echo the world of the play. For example, last Saturday when I was reading the paper I came across an article about refugees fleeing Syria who are using video to prove the government is massacring citizens (http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/syrian-refugees-bring-tales-of-horror-146514835.html). There were some lines that seemed to have come straight from the script for EDEN. This relevancy of the piece is sad. When writing the script I was really projecting forward to explore what would happen if a culture of fear continued to dominate, a culture where those who are different or disagree are branded terrorists and sanctioned. Unfortunately, with the global situation we don’t have to project forward to see the extremes in the play. In fact the research the team has been doing has found many historical examples that echo the play.

Throughout the rehearsals, director Sharon Bajer, and the cast have been drawing on many sources. In fact Sharon has been consistently referencing 24 with Keifer Sutherland. There is a character in the play very similar to Jack Bauer, except Jack Bauer is seen as a hero. It will be interesting to see if the audience sees George, played by Tom Soares, to be justifiable in his interrogation techniques. Some of the cast also recently saw The Hunger Games and found many parallels. But again, real life trumps fiction as Ti Hallas who is playing the Minister of Labour, Stacy, was intrigued by reports that our current Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt allegedly asked the RCMP to “arrest these animals” after Air Canada workers slow clapped and sarcastically said “Oh, great job” to her as she walked through Lester B. Pearson Airport on March 22nd. Of course there have been two sides to this story but it all feeds in to what EDEN is exploring – an ‘us and them’ mentality with two versions of the truth.

With such a great group of actors, there were even moments of goose bumps for those of us watching the run yesterday. It’s hard to brag about my own writing but I feel okay saying that the performances will be amazing and the direction has truly brought the script to life. I also was so pleased with having the involvement of grass dancer Wayne Ruby. We shot video of him on Tuesday and he is truly a wonderful dancer and a very special person. I was so impressed with his dedication to the traditions he has chosen to carry forward. He does Pow-Wow Clubs for youth every night of the week at different places in Winnipeg. He is such an important role model to them. Also this week actor Marsha Knight met with our translator and coach to work on the Cree chants in the play. We’ve been pleased to have the support of so many associations and community groups. All of these elements mean there is a lot to keep on top of but they truly make the play into a very special event.

Marsha Knight as Essa; Photo by Janet Shum

The rehearsal hall is also such a positive and creative environment. The apple pie, cookies, Tim bits and chocolates people keep bringing in surely help!

Hard to believe there is less than two weeks until opening – more info and tickets on the EDEN webpage.