Tagged: Rhubarb Festival

The Snail

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A native of Italy, Fabio Zito has a history of work that has continually been supported and produced by his home theatre but the topic matter of his latest work proved to be too much and for the first time his script was rejected. Not being discouraged, Fabio went of the hunt for a replacement company who could provide them residence and a public performance space – enter the spunky East Village theatre Wild Project.

The Snail is a story about a boy who is locked in a body that he doesn’t recognize until he decides to start living as a woman and while the premise is intoxicating, the execution of the story fell short of making a connection with the audience. The Snail is part Jay & Gloria from Modern Family meets Brandon Teena from Boys Don’t Cry and while Arianna Luzi gave a mesmerizing performance as Andrew, it wasn’t enough to fully bring the audience into the narrative. New York has numerous trans/gender-themed plays (see MDLSX and Boy), some experimental and others very thoughtful, but The Snail was a slow and sticky attempt at telling somebody elses story and it reminded me of a life lesson my cohort Amy Pearl once told me.

For years, Amy had been trying to get her work accepted into Toronto’s queer Rhubarb Festival but Buddies in Bad Times Theatre turned her down. Frustrated, Amy called up the artistic director at the time (and founder) Sky Gilbert to find out why her work, despite being queer in content, was continually passed over. He told her that it wasn’t what was in her work but rather what wasn’t. Amy’s work was probably gayer then most gays could ever hope to be yet it was lacking the vulnerability and insights that can only come as a result of an actual lived experience. It’s not that Amy couldn’t tell a gay man’s story (she’s gayer then most gays I know), Sky was suggesting that she get comfortable in her own shows before attempting a mile someone else’s heels. It’s sage advice because most people spend their entire lives trying to unpack their own identities and so aiming to do that for another human being just pushes the story that much farther from reality.

 

3 Life Lessons From Hamlet In A Hot Tub

Photo by Ben Powless: Hamlet In A Hot Tub at Nuit Rose Closing Ceremonies, Pride Toronto (2015).


(1) You won’t learn a thing if you do it perfectly. There’s a difference between making a mistake in public and intentionally making a public mistake. We adapted the original production of Hamlet In A Hot Tub (HIAHT) so we could perform it in the washrooms during the Rhubarb Festival and despite weeks of rehearsals, performing out of the washrooms with an actual audience remained a theory right up until opening night. Lacking a model for how the show should work I had to give up trying to control our space so that the constant uncertainties became an expected part of our process, and to some extent, the show itself.

(3) The audience can be your friends, literally. An audience made up of complete strangers can be nerve-wrecking but at the end of the show those strangers will go home and remain strangers while our friends, family and peers can be a source of feedback to reflect on against the backdrop of what we intended to produce.
 
(3) A cast of theatre actors can be more reliable than your own family.
Being there for each other can be as simple as always being on time because everyone involved in the show depends on everyone else, moving mountains to be at a rehearsal is just how the family grows tighter. In 2015 we performed Hamlet In A Hot Tub fourteen times and thanks to the dedication and shear madness of the cast and I’m proud to call this highly dysfunctional (surrogate) family my own, here’s to a steamy 2016!

Hamlet, Ophelia, Gertrude and Polonius are Hamlet In A Hot Tub in this outrageously funny and gender-bending adaptation of Shakespeare set in a modern day bathhouse. Written + Adapted by Brock Hessel, David Bateman also featuring Paul Bellini, Amy J. Lester, Directed by Raymond Helkio and Music by Stewart Borden.