Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hive: The New Bees 2 theatre collaboration promises a honey of a show

Resounding Scream will be bringing several theatre companies under one roof for a series of site-specific performance shorts

Chapel Arts, an event space at the edge of Strathcona, is about to give honeycomb housing to a dozen different independent theatre companies from the Vancouver area. Resounding Scream Theatre company is hosting Hive: the New Bees 2, a smorgasbord of theatre, dance, and music, all packed into one former funeral home.
The premise for the show is 12 independent theatre companies coming together, each given a nook of the Chapel Arts venue and asked to create a 10-minute performance inspired by the space. The participating companies include Rice and Beans theatre, Escaping Goat Productions, Human Theatre Collective, and Workingclasstheatre, among others.
“The inspiration for the show comes from the Progress Lab Company, a professional theatre group in Vancouver who has done this kind of show three times before,” said Catherine Ballachey, referring to the team behind La Marea, one of the most popular productions showcased at PuSh Festival in 2011, which used the shops of Gastown as stages and shut down roads for the performances.
Ballachey is the co-artistic director of Resounding Scream Theatre, and an SFU alumnus. She has written and directed three original plays, and is currently acting as the senior front of house manager at the SFU Woodward’s cultural unit. After completing her undergrad, she formed Resounding Scream Theatre with fellow SFU theatre major Stephanie Henderson in 2009 to bring a unique and fresh theatre experience to Vancouver.
The name Hive: the New Bees 2 comes from the hive-like space the performers are given; each nook is like a honeycomb in a beehive, housing a few performers from each company. The place will be buzzing with emerging and young artists, hence the “New Bees.”
“There’s a musical, a dance company, a few different installations; my company’s piece is a performance where the audience can come and go throughout the night. It’s just kind of continuously going and very interactive that way. It’s the kind of environment that lends to some experimentation,” Ballachey said.
Each performance will occur simultaneously, and the audience members will be encouraged to move from one piece to another. One production involves two people in a Winnebago-style van, with just enough room for about six audience members.
“I know as a young artist and as an audience member, when I went to the professional version, I was so inspired by seeing all these artists share the same space and share their work and work together,” Ballachey said.
The event is a mosaic of art forms. Some groups have as many as eight performers using a larger area, while some use only one or two people working in a smaller space. Following the theatre performances, there will be an after-show each night, including performances by prog-rock band Criminal Caterpillar, the comedic styling of David MacLean and Jacob Samuel, and the Gal Pal DJs on the final night. The event is a coming-together of the Vancouver arts scene, which has become increasingly necessary following the provincial funding cuts.
“Everyone approaches art really differently. At SFU they instill a certain kind of mentality in you: you focus on working with each other and making those connections. With visual art it’s very competitive, so it can be hard; you worry sometimes that there’s an ulterior motive. But people are very genuine and just want to do their art, whatever it takes,” said Ballachey.
While networking of this nature has become almost a necessity in the arts industry, it also creates a colourful and thriving community that works together to create new things. Kind of like a colony of bees.
“It’s tricky to convince people who haven’t been out to the theatre to come out to the theatre. There is a movement in the arts of being more self-sustainable, of running more like a business,” Ballachey said. The Vancouver independent theatre scene is dependent upon those who are eager to collaborate and to partake in the arts being created. Spring and summer is the time for independent companies to put on performances, while the colder seasons are generally the period in which professional companies put on shows. The separation of seasonal theatre helps to keep competition at bay, and also means that the warm months are filled with unique performances by passionate young bees.

Hive: The New Bees 2 runs from May 24–26 at Chapel Arts.

Originally published in The Peak.

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