BY DANIEL MACIVOR
In Fredericton this show was staged as part of an evening of two one-act plays; it was preceded by The Dumb Waiter.
To read an article/interview about the production, please click here.
Photos by Michael Holmes-Lauder
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Photos by Michael Holmes-Lauder
Bigger isn’t always better. At least, that’s the theory behind the Nasty Shadows Theatre Company.
These days, New Brunswickers have the opportunity to take in some major productions, such as the musical Chicago, or last year’s presentation of Dracula. But some theatre lovers are focusing on presentations on a much smaller scale. The Nasty Shadows Theatre Company is bringing out two minimalist plays later this month.
The first play, House, plays in Saint John at UNBSJ’s Hazen Lecture Hall Nov 28 and 29, 8 p.m., and in Fredericton on Dec. 3-5. From Cape Breton-born Daniel MacIvor, it’s a one-act, one-man play about a character whose life is unraveling. The second play, The Dumb Waiter, is only in Fredericton Dec. 3-5. From Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, it shows two gangsters and their interaction under pressure. It, too, is a one-act play.
This stripped-down appraoch is nothing new to the company. It was formed around this mentality, says actor and director Scott Shannon.
“We’ve always focused on actor-driven performances, and the rehearsal process that gets us to the performance itself,” Shannon says. “This harkens back to the thoughts of people like Jerzy Grotowski or Peter Brook who believed theatre could be created anywhere, and at base all that’s needed for theatre to take place is an actor on a playing space and somebody watching that actor.
“This philosophy of theatricality has very much shaped my interests in drama. We focus on small casts with minimal technical aspects.” This doesn’t mean his group thinks that theatrical productions must always be on a small scale, though.
“I don’t place such value judgements on theatre and/or art,” he says. “It’s not so much that ‘smaller is better,’ but that the more intimate the performance is with an audience, the more the performance caters to the aspects of drama that interest me. I’m not interested in trying to fool an audience into thinking they’re watching reality or a movie.” Shannon says that approach in theatre allows the actors to create anything they want, so long as they can engage the audience to follow along.
“I find that a more stripped down creation enables that ‘in the moment’ relationship with the audience more so than a largely produced show might — again, the immediacy and relationship between the audience and the performers is what we focus on.” The company’s membership fluctuates year to year — Shannon is the only constant member, with a lot of involvement from the group’s co-founder, Shannon’s former drama professor, Robert Moore. The group doesn’t recruit volunteers too heavily from the community, instead opting to handpick talent to fit with its ranks. They then choose the plays based on the actors available.
“We don’t require a large group of people to make our shows happen, but it does stretch some of us pretty thin at times, especially when we’re close to an actual run as we’re all involved in most aspects from props, to costuming, acting and advertising,” says Shannon.
Because of the group’s small-scale approach, its productions have stayed low-key. Most of the company’s support comes from within, Shannon says, and though Theatre UNB in Fredericton and UNBSJ’s Lorenzo Society have been of assistance, the group’s limited resources do end up restricting them somewhat.
“Our weakest production component would be advertising,” says Shannon.
The company mainly uses word-of-mouth, public service announcements, or e-mail newsletters to inform the public about their work, which keeps them below the radar.
“I suspect we’re not well known, but we have a relatively loyal audience from the university and arts communities in both Fredericton and Saint John,” Shannon says.
After their upcoming productions, Shannon’s hoping his group can work on a production in the spring, although the specifics are up in the air. He’s hoping they can run an original script from within the group, something they haven’t done since 2000.
View a list of PAST PRODUCTIONS.
REVIEWS/ARTICLES about past productions.