2017 SummerWorks Preview Questionnaire: Explosions for the 21st Century

27 Jul

Explosionsforthe21stCentury-860x573Your name: Graham Isador

Your production: Explosions for the 21st Century

Your role: Director

Tell me about your show.

Christopher Ross-Ewart (MFA Yale School of Drama) is using sound design to explore his anxiety towards contemporary culture. The result is a performance that blends sound installation, with confessional stand up, and an existential crisis.

Now again in the style of a tweet by Donald Trump.

@chrisrodstewart makes fart noises while he lectures and whines. Not funny or informative. Def not a play. Sad.

What other shows or artists are you looking forward to seeing?

My figurative brothers in Pandemic Theatre (Jiv Parasram and Tom Arthur Davis) have teamed with Dm. St Bernard for The Only Good Indian. New performer each night talking about the degradation of their cultures. It’s going to piss some people off and I’m excited for it.

Kevin Wong has put together an amazing lecture/performance piece hybrid called The Chemical Valley Project. The piece lets audiences know about some of the environmental struggles that are happening close to home in a way that never feels preachy while at the same time remaining highly theatrical and entertaining. He’s the type of talent that is going to be running a big company in another ten years. Seeing him do this now is going to be like catching a band in a club act before they go on to play arenas.

Justin Miller has been working on his Perale Harbour character for years. I’ve always really admired Miller’s work and while I found his Harbour character quite funny, I never quite connected with it in the way I wanted to. Still I could tell Miller was getting closer and closer to something really special. I feel like with Pearl Harbour’s Chautauqua he might have hit it.

This year we lost the great Jon Kaplan who was a incomparable supporter of independent theatre and a ubiquitous presence at the Fringe. Are there any thoughts, stories, or memories of Jon you’d like to share?

I’m a chronically shy person. Over time I’ve learned how to work this out in public, but it takes me a lot of effort for me to feel comfortable around people, particular people in any position of perceived authority.  This means that I have a hard time with critics, particularly critics in a theatre scene as small as Toronto.

Last year I was in the audience for a show at the Storefront and Kaplan came up and introduced himself to me. He said that he hadn’t seen my work yet, but had heard about my Summerworks show and was excited that I’d be included in Next Stage. He said he’d heard good things and couldn’t wait to see for himself.

It was this huge weight off the shoulders. Kaplan made it clear that he was a person who wanted to help this community, myself included, move forward. His role was to highlight voices he enjoyed and he seemed to take such pleasure in that. I didn’t know him, not really, but our brief interactions spoke volumes about how he viewed his role and his continuing willingness to support a scene he loved. It meant a lot. Still does.

Later when I took the job as Producer for Marketing at Theatre Passe Muraille he phoned me up to say congrats and gave me his personal phone number if I needed anything. I didn’t feel shy around him. He made me feel at ease and I’m extremely grateful for that.

The world is becoming an increasingly crazy and volatile place. If you could air-drop an elite squad of theatre artists any place in the world, where would you drop them and what would their mission be?

I’d drop a skilled group of extremely intelligent 18 year olds in a medical school. They’d do a ten-year immersive piece at the school where they learn to be doctors, followed by thirty year residency where they help sick people. The piece would be called: do something that actually helps people dear god we don’t need more people in theatre.

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