Necessary Angel Theatre Company, Electric Company Theatre, and The Theatre Centre bring us their new co-production 40 Days And 40 Nights, a new work created and performed by Daniel Brooks and Kim Collier, with consulting director Jennifer Tarver for Necessary Angel.
This sensorial, ritualistic, celebration invites performers and audiences to contemplate, and talk about Love. Here is what Collier has to share about this intriguing new work.
HM: Through some reading, I have learned 40 Days And 40 Nights has been workshopped since its ‘first draft’, so to speak. Could you explain the process of creating this piece between you and Daniel Brooks, your current writing and life partner?
Kim Collier (KC): The workshopping process was to create the piece; there was no first draft of this piece. The material in the piece is in motion…it is changing by the day. This discovery of the content will continue with an audience, as it is a piece that will only come into view with an audience. It created to be as interactive and dynamically responding to what happens in the room.
It is about creating the alchemy for being together around this subject of Love. Our creation process has been largely during our five workshop weeks. We worked with existing texts, improv, and design to explore the subject outside of the realm of traditional dramaturgy. The conditions of Love and how it becomes present in the world was more our dramaturgical or editing force for creation.
HM: In creating this piece you have worked within the model of The Theatre Centre’s Tracy Wright Global Archive, which “challenges artists to explore a burning question and contemplate a new direction in their work by engaging deeply with communities and locations across the globe.” Please share how your and Daniel’s vision of 40 Days And 40 Nights achieves this goal?
KC: 40 Days And 40 Nights was deeply nourished by our trip to India supported by the Tracy Wright Global Archive. It was there that we asked our question. “Can we live 40 days and nights making all choices based in Love?”
And this grand and impossible challenge made us look deeply into ourselves. Our failures and also our desire to be better at loving. It is this basic challenge and our struggle to live as loving partners or loving citizens that is at the core of this work. Our trip to India inspired us to follow this impulse to create a piece for the public; to create a public ritual to explore this subject. We were very nourished by our time in India; to be in a culture that was grounded in a completely different way in matters of the spirit.
HM: 40 Days And 40 Nights has been described as “a theatrical exploration of Love. Enduring Love. Surviving Love. A public ritual celebrating Love.” I also understand the performance begins as the audience is about to enter the theatre space. How can we as audience members prepare for this somewhat immersive experience?
KC: I always think it is wonderful that in the performing arts we can have experiences we have never had before. Our life can organize around so many known factors and habits…it is great to get outside those frames and experience something new. And I would say, for this piece one just needs to walk into the theatre and go on the journey. No preparations required!
HM: I’m curious… as a sensorial experience, how did you and Daniel integrate the work of the design team for this piece?
KC: Our creation process was design based. Meaning that Daniel and I worked with text, light, space, props and set materials, and composition as we were creating in the rehearsal hall. It was a very practice/rehearsal based creation process. We had eight days at The Theatre Centre followed by three weeks at Progress Lab in Vancouver, and then these magnificent three weeks again at The Theatre Centre where Jennifer Tarver then joined us as an outside eye. In between we would read books, record conversations, look at how the piece may be structured.
We were looking for content not only in words but in image and in design expressions. We included two composers in this process to generate content as we were working: Andrew Creeggan and Debashis Sinha. Music is a real equal partner in this process of creation and Andrew’s work as a composer is like one of the writers of the piece.
Then Ken McKenzie joined us to lead our design ideas forward into richer designs on this last leg. Ken took on set, props, lighting and costumes; a very heroic endeavour.
HM: As 40 Days And 40 Nights is set to premiere, you and Daniel are also working on another piece The Full Light of Day — another story about love. Any updates on this piece you can share with Toronto audiences?
KC: The Full Light of Day is nearing its production draft. It is a completely different kind of piece. It is rooted in Story and is responding to who we are and how we live in 2018. It takes the form of a modern Greek tragedy but manifests like contemporary performance using an intersection between film and stage. That said; it is the stage and the actors that drive this show. We have an incredible ensemble of actors cast in this production lead by Jim Mezon and Gabriel Rose. We are thrilled that the complexity of the piece has the support of the City of Vancouver at the Civic Theatres, and the Banff Centre for Creativity for production residencies. It is a big huge risk, as all new pieces should be. Move beyond the known and attempt to mine the questions and problems of the day.
For those of us in Toronto, we can experience 40 Days And 40 Nights. The show runs at The Theatre Centre until May 6, 2018. General Tickets: $22.50 in advance, $20 Rush at the door. For performance times and more details please visit theatrecentre.org.