Tenant Haymovitch at Theatre Inconnu. Interview with director Matt McLaren

Tenant Haymovitch at Theatre Inconnu. Interview with director MattMcLaren

Two years after his directorial début—Bad Jews, also at Theatre Inconnu—Matt McLaren returns with an ambitious project—Tenant Haymovitch, which audiences may remember as a stand-out international offering from the 2012 Victoria Fringe Festival.

McLaren, a UVic Phoenix grad and long a stalwart of the Victoria theatre scene where he contributed reviews to The Marble Victoria (now Showbill) and acted with the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival and Atomic Vaudeville (among others), departed two years ago for the larger community of Toronto and volunteer gigs with Luminato and SummerWorks.

Looking for another directorial challenge, and remembering Tenant Haymovitch, he approached Clayton Jevne of Theatre Inconnu and pitched the play to him for the 2018 season and then tracked down the playwright Ariel Bronz to secure the rights.

“Ariel is an interesting charismatic person, who has fantastic ideas about politics and what it is to live alone as a human being. I knew that what I needed to make this work was a strong cast”, he says.

Tenant Haymovitch tells the story of an immigrant to Israel, Daniel Haymovitch, a young Ukrainian writer who is running away from his parents and is conned into renting the worst apartment in Tel Aviv.  “It’s uninhabitable really, there’s a prominent concrete wall dividing the room—landlords really do this”, states McLaren.

Amy Lee Radigan, Jared Gowan, Eric Grace, Michelle Mitchell, Chase Heibert, Paul Shortt, Julie McGuire, Graham Croft

When Haymovitch tries to take possession, he finds the apartment filled with crazed tenants—are they real or are they not?—who act as guides and trickster figures. “Haymovitch journeys through his subconscious but it’s also a metaphor for what it’s like to live in Israel right now. It’s him as an individual versus society.  Audiences will connect with the journey he is going through; the archetypes are universally recognizable” says McLaren.

The cast is comprised of UVic Phoenix students and grads as well as regulars with the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival, Atomic Vaudeville, Theatre Inconnu and Launch Pad Theatre—Graham Croft, Jared Gowan, Eric Grace, Chase Heibert, Julie McGuire, Michelle Mitchell, Amy Lee Radigan and Paul Shortt.

Since “the bodies onstage are the heart of the show”, McLaren brought Andrew Barrett of Impulse Theatre onboard as a movement consultant.  “His body of work leaves me breathless; I’m lucky to secure him. This is the first time I’m working with a movement consultant/choreographer. I adore watching Andrew work; he brings physicality that is needed for this show.”

To alleviate the small space of the theatre at 1923 Fernwood Road (the Paul Phillips Hall) the curtains have been removed in favour of projection flat. Mily Mumford is designing projections that “tie-into the more dream-like aspects of the show”.

McLaren did not “try to emulate what the original cast did. It’s our own show with only hints of the original”.

When I asked McLaren why audiences should attend he had several reasons: “Tenant Haymovitch is unlike any other kind of theatre you are going to see in Victoria; it deals with serious issues in Israel by grounding it in a personal story and honours the theatricality of the stage experience by using dream logic to take it out of reality.

The writing is beautiful and hilarious—laugh-out loud funny, and poignant and still.

Wherever you are coming from—whether you know about Israel or not, there is an accessibility that transcends borders and breaks down walls.”

And, finally, “This is one of the sexiest casts I’ve worked with in a while.”

All he wanted was to be alone. But when you’re not alone in your head, where can you go?  Running from the ghosts of his past, young writer Daniel Haymovitch seeks isolation in a derelict apartment amid the slums of Tel Aviv.  But what seemed like a chance to reflect soon descends into an absurdist nightmare as the space is invaded by a horde of crazed tenants, intent on prying some revelation from the hapless young man – at any cost.  As the walls of his mind start breaking down, Daniel must choose what he believes in and where he will stand.  Hilarious and unnerving, Tenant Haymovitch is a roller coaster ride through a life lived in the shadow of power, tradition and heartbreak. Israel in all its complexity – as seen through the eyes of one lost.

“… a very rewarding theatrical experience that unfolds into a sensible, coherent, suitable, coherent conclusion. That you didn’t see coming!” Gigcity, Edmonton

Tenant Haymovitch by Ariel Bronz, directed by Matt McLaren
Theatre Inconnu
1923 Fernwood Road, the Paul Phillips Hall
May 1-19, 2018
Tickets: $10/14 with $7 preview May 1st and pay what you can May 9th

Through TICKET ROCKET: http://www.ticketrocket.co/Event/Season/266 or (25) 590-6291

Directly through THEATRE INCONNU: http://www.theatreinconnu.com/2018/01/the-tenant-hamovitch/ or (250) 360-0234

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