Winners and Losers at Intrepid Theatre April 11/12. Interview with co-creator Marcus Youssef.

Winners and Losers at Intrepid Theatre April 11/12 2014. Interview with co-creator Marcus Youssef.

When the Globe and Mail theatre critic, Kelly Nestruck, names a show among his year’s top ten, and describes it as “jaw-dropping”, I pay attention.

Fellow Globe arts writer Paula Citron calls it a “tour-de-force” and references a “sucker punch”.

Thanks to Intrepid Theatre’s new Deep End Presentation Series, Victoria audiences have the opportunity to experience this game-changing performance for themselves April 11 and 12th at the Metro Studio.

Winners and Losers is a “staged conversation” between theatre artists and long time friends Jamie Long (Theatre Replacement) and Marcus Youssef (Neworld Theatre).

The premise is simple –Jamie and Marcus sit at a table and play a game they made-up, winners and losers, in which they name people, places and things and discuss whether they are a winner or a loser – nothing is off the table from Pamela Anderson to Tom Cruise, from druids to their fathers.As each seeks to defeat the other, the debate gets personal as they dissect each other’s individual, familial and class histories. And because one is the product of economic privilege, and one is not, the competition very quickly begins to cost. Winners and Losers is wickedly funny, painfully honest and incredibly entertaining.

Winners Losers April 2014Jamie Long and Marcus Youssef in Winners and Losers. Photo: Simon Hayer

 Co-creator Marcus Youssef kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

What makes Winners and Losers theatre?

It depends on what you imagine a theatre performance to be; there are a million types of performance.  Is it compelling, dangerous, exciting, and funny?  Anything that is performative is theatre. I’m interested in work that challenges and questions.  I find that I don’t suspend disbelief in traditional performance.

How did you have the idea for Winners and Losers?

We had a friend who got involved in a pyramid scheme and that got us to thinking about winning and losing.  We wanted to investigate the question.

Winners and Losers asks about class, privilege and money—these are often taboo subjects in our society.  It’s the paradigm itself that was of interest to us.  What happens when you reduce everything to this binary of winning and losing?

Why should someone come to Winners and Losers?

Fundamentally Winners and Losers is pretty entertaining. It’s intimate—front and centre and charged. 30-40% of the show is improvised which adds another element –we’re “riding by the seat of our pants”.

It provides an opportunity for the audience to collectively wrestle with a question that we may only wrestle with in our own heads. People leave the theatre saying “Let’s play the game”.

What’s next?

We’ve toured to Europe and are in the planning stages of a US tour. In the long-run we’d like to publish a version of the show with a “how to” guide for other companies and performers.

Long and Youssef are thrilled to come back to Victoria where they have close connections with Intrepid Theatre, and artistic director Janet Munsil.

Come and check out the production that has everyone talking!

Winners and Losers
April 11/12 at the Metro Studio, Victoria BC
part of Intrepid Theatre’s Deep End Presentation Series
Tickets $18/20 (plus service charge) at Ticket Rocket online, in person or by phone

Written and performed by Marcus Youssef and James Long
Directed by Chris Abraham
Lighting by Jonathan Ryder
Stage & Production management by Elia Kirby

Disclaimer: I was offered complimentary tickets to attend the opening night of Winners and Losers. 


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