A Very Commedia Christmas December 10-12, 2015. Interview with Kevin Koch of Lightning Theatre.

A Very Commedia Christmas December 10-12, 2015. Interview with Kevin Koch of Lightning Theatre.

Emerging theatre company Lightning Theatre promises a show that will be “Part Christmas Carol, part Marx Brothers, part Citizen Kane”.  Find out more as I interview Kevin Koch, founder and one of the writers of the show.

A Very Commedia Christmas by Lightning Theatre December 2015

Lightning Theatre has traditionally performed improvised work. Why the decision to go to a scripted play?

We’d wanted to try a scripted show for quite a while, and the more we thought about the story we wanted to tell, the more fun scripting it sounded, There will still be some improve, to keep with the spirit of Commedia dell’Arte, but the majority of the show was written by me and Andrew Brimmell of Paper Street Theatre.

“Part Christmas Carol, part Marx Brothers, part Citizen Kane”. Can you explain how these three very different works feature in A Very Commedia Christmas?

Ebenezer Scrooge is an incarnation of Pantalone, Commedia’s old miser character, and that was where the idea for the show originally came from. The show incorporates many elements of A Christmas Carol, but gives them a very different spin.

As for the Marx Brothers we were very inspired by their unique style of physical comedy and incorporated a lot of slapstick into the show. The slapstick was another reason why we wanted to script the show—slapstick is almost impossible to do improvised (safely that is!)

And finally, without spoiling too much, there are certainly traces of Charles Foster Kane in our Pantalone We were also inspired by the non-linear storytelling of Citizen Kane, and the way the film utilized different people’s perspectives on the life of one man.

How did you come to be fascinated with Commedia?

I was first introduced to Commedia dell’Arte in my later years of high school education. I auditioned for the role of of Arlecchino and made my mask out of plaster of Paris. The play was a more traditional Commedia script—very few lines of dialogue and mostly focusing on loose scenarios to unfold the plot. This will be the third Commedia dell’Arte show I’ve produced, and I couldn’t be more excited. I love the characters, whom we’ve seen ubiquitously, and I want to remind everyone they do too!

Any reason there are no women?

We tried to include the character of Colombina but it ended up feeling forced. We just couldn’t write her in a way that both did justice to her character’s history and wasn’t incredibly offensive. So, we ended up starting the script from scratch with only two characters, and then let it evolve from there.

You mentioned this was the last show by Lightning Theatre. Can you elaborate? What’s next for your company members?

I wanted Lightning Theatre to be a sort of banner, under which many different artists could produce work. As time went on, however, it ended up being run more like a typical theatre company, with myself as Director and Producer of all the shows. Because the company had changed to something I hadn’t originally intended I thought about winding it up, and starting a new company under my own name. Then, Andrew Brimmell jumped on board as co-director and co-producer, and Lightning Theatre suddenly became closer to what I’d first imagined.
So, you read it here first, Lightning Theatre will not be closing its doors! Andrew and I have applied for the 2016 Fringe Festival, with a show entitled “The Two Orsons,” about a young Orson Welles meeting an old Orson Welles. I also hope to do a one-man show this year called “Everlast,” about a Pope who wants to fight God. Both those will be scripted, but I certainly want to do an improv show as well, between now and Fringe.

Who will be attracted to your show?

Our show is a darkly comedic twist on the Holiday Special format that I think will attract both people who love holiday movies and TV specials, and people who don’t. The people who like them will enjoy seeing us turn the genre on its head, while still staying true to the tropes and themes essential to the format. Those who don’t like holiday movies and TV specials will also probably like seeing the genre lampooned.

What would you say to entice potential audience members?

This what I’d say if this were one of those trailers before a Disney VHS: “Are you feeling the stresses of the holidays? These days, who isn’t? Shopping, parties, decorations, and more shopping. Why not give yourself a night off? Come on down to Intrepid Theatre, sit back, relax, and enjoy a holiday show like you’ve never seen before. Laugh, gasp, cry, and laugh some more, as characters you know and love have the craziest Christmas of their lives.”

A Very Commedia Christmas, written by Kevin Koch and Andrew Brimmell
Presented by Lightning Theatre
December 10-12, 2016 at the Intrepid Theatre Club, #2-1609 Blanshard Street (at Fisgard)
Tickets $15 via Eventbrite and at the door

Thursday, December 10 | 8pm
Friday, December 11 | 8pm
Saturday, December 12 | 3pm
Saturday, December 12 | 8pm

Panatalone, a miserable old miser, and Arlecchino, his loyal servant, are determined to make their Christmas wishes come true in this Commedia dell’Arte Holiday Special!

You may laugh, you may cry, but don’t expect to learn anything.

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.

Speak Your Mind