Theatre Under the Gun March 13 2016. A preview.

Intrepid Theatre presents the third annual Theatre Under the Gun (TUG) Sunday March 13th at the Metro Studio (Victoria BC).

TUG is deadline-driven, insomnia fuelled creation at its best as six teams made up of Victoria’s ace indie theatre-makers race against the clock to create brand new 10-minute performances in just 48 hours using only their quick wits, raw talent and a mysterious gift-wrapped box of inspiration. The clock starts on Friday evening, as each team is given an inspiration package containing an image, a line of text, a sound cue and a prop – this becomes the inspiration for their brand new 10-minute creation and they spend they next 48 hours writing, choreographing, rehearsing, designing and premiering their new performance. This epic theatre adventure returns to Victoria for the 3rd time, featuring TUG veterans who keep coming back for more and first-timers eager for a wild ride.


Theatre Under the Gun March 2016 logo

I interviewed a veteran team—Dyana Sonik-Henderson of award-winning Broken Rhythms Dance—and a neophyte team—Jenson Kerr of Re-United Again and it Feels So Good (UVic Phoenix grads) to find out more about their participation, preparation and process. They told me about their fears and described the rewards too. Learn why you should consider attending Theatre Under the Gun.


Dyana—what keeps you coming back?

First, I love the concept. If you look at a reality T.V show like Project Runway, they too are given a theme, then they have to go away to create something in a limited amount of time. I think it is a great way to engage in the creative process and work from a conceptual / instinctual place because you do not have the time to second guess yourself.

I also love seeing what the other groups create. It is a great bonding experience between Victoria artists and within the company as well.

Jenson—why did you take up the challenge with a group of people—have you worked with some of them before?

The collective I am working with are all graduates of the University of Victoria Phoenix Theatre 2015 class – and we have all worked together many times in class projects and on MainStage shows.

Team work—can you speak a little to the members of your team and the skills they bring to this endeavor?

Dyana: TUG has become a great boot camp for Broken Rhythms dancers. If we can be together for 48hr, then we can tour the world together.

Jenson: Each team member brings a unique skill set that will be valuable. LJ Wallace has a strong dance background and is a budding sound designer, Amanda Millar is a self-professed Julie Andrews addict and has a strong musical theatre background with a top notch singing voice.

Preparation: Is there any advance planning that you will be doing? Is it a bit like improv in that you have rehearsals ahead of time, or at least run scenarios through your head?

Dyana: We train all year, but for this event I like to be surprised. Sometimes too much planning can put up a roadblock latter in the process.

Jenson: We are trying to stay true to the 48 hour deadline (ACTUALLY 47 hour deadline, as Intrepid Theatre are evil geniuses and planned the event around daylight savings time weekend), and are not meeting before hand or having any rehearsals prior to the event

Biggest fear about the process?

Jenson: That we aren’t able to create ANYTHING in the time. As I’m sure is common with many of the other artists, we all have “real world” commitments outside of the event, so it is going to be a balancing act to get the most rehearsal time in we can.

As a seasoned participant—what tips would you provide to a new team?

Dyana: Trust your gut, allow one idea to grow, but cut when you feel it does not add to the work.

As a new team—what edge do you think you have?

Jenson: Hopefully we have some beginners luck (haha), also we bring the sheer unadulterated “we have no idea what we are getting into but we are going to have a blast” mindset.

Sleep deprivation and staying on your toes—will you sleep or do you plan to go straight through? How do you think either decision effects the quality of your art?

Dyana: I start shift sleeping on Friday and Saturday night, which is a 2 hours asleep-1 hour awake cycle. Usually an idea will wake me up and I will not be able to get back to sleep unless I finish that task. I try to encourage my dancers to get a full night’s sleep as their bodies need to be in top operational form to prevent injury.

I think the quality of the art can be surprisingly good. Your focus is not on any other project or commitment so this 48hr is a kind of art obsession. A type of speed dating with your craft.

Jenson: As we all attended UVic together, we can all attest that often times the best work happens when you are locked in a room at 3am, on your 5th cup of coffee, and all your internal censors and “shut up judges” turn off…THAT is when real creativity happens.

Can you comment on some of the projects you’ve done in your past appearances at TUG?

Dyana: Our first prop we received was a pair of fish sandals… sandals shaped like fish. This was, for a dance company, a hard prop to include without making it central or comical. The texture was scales so we spray painted them black and wore them like armor. If creativity is just intelligent problem solving, then participating in Tug has released a lot of anxiety from my other work. If we can make fish flops work, we can make anything work.

Why should people consider coming?

Dyana: This is a chance for you to experience the companies that are creating in Victoria. For most of these projects this might be the only time to view them. It is also entertaining to see how each group uses the inspirational package in a creative way. It is a little look behind the curtains to how works can be created.

Jenson: Theatre Under the Gun is a way to showcase some of the astonishing talent that lives in our city, and is a way to make theatre more accessible. Intrepid Theatre has an amazing way of breaking down the “stuffy, dated, irrelevant theatre” stereotypes and judgements that are out there, and this event is a prime example of that.

Meet the Teams:

Broken Rhythms
Kaleidoscope Theatre Teen Performance Company
Broad Theatrics
Impulse Theatre
Reunited-and-it-feels-so-good (a collective made up of 2015 UVic Phoenix Theatre grads)

Theatre Under The Gun
March 13th 8pm
Metro Studio Theatre
Tickets: $12/$15 via Ticket Rocket online, by phone to 250 590 6291 or in person #2-1609 Blanshard (at Fisgard)

Disclaimer: I will be attending Theatre Under the Gun as a guest of Intrepid Theatre.

About @lacouvee

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