It can be hard to motivate yourself to get dressed and go out to see a play when you could just binge Netflix in your underwear at home. It can seem intimidating, but you don’t have to be passionate about live performance to get something out of the experience.
If you’re looking for that intense sense of drama and mystery, the 2019/20 season of UBC Theatre and Film is offering six plays that each have a deep emotional tie to the world and the human condition. Not only are they dramatic, the plays this season also have a deep sense of social justice and a statement to tell.
Three of the plays this season are completely student or alumni designed, acted and directed: Timothy Findley’s The Wars (November 7-23), The Changeling (January 16-February 1) and Revolt. She Says. Revolt Again (March 12-28).
The first show of the season, BECKETT 19: or some such semblance features alumni of the program. Timothy Findley's The Wars is the fourth-year bachelor of fine arts (BFA) designated show — their last hurrah, so to speak — to showcase their talents and compile all the things they’ve learned. All the other shows include third-year BFA students as well. Notably, Naked Cinema VI is a feature film that the BFA and film production students have created from scratch, meant to showcase what the film department can do.
“[The stage feels] like a partnership experience between the audience and cast,” said Liam McCulley, a fourth-year BFA acting student.
Everyone can find importance and relevance in each play. For instance, Timothy Findley’s The Wars is a historical look on trench warfare in World War I, appropriately playing around Remembrance Day. McCulley described Timothy Findley’s The Wars as dealing with the tragedy and internal turmoil of the people who are on the ground — and though this may seem very specific, it relates to how everyone can question their own morals.
The play doesn’t just look at the emotions around war. Some other topics the plays discuss are how mental illness has been dealt with throughout history, how marriage isn’t always about love and how relationships aren’t just for men and women.
If you’re interested in more classical theatre, this season has a production of The Changeling, which was written in 1622.
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., which will go up in March, is a strongly feminist play that deals with these themes of male-dominated fields and centres around the experience of being female in the 21st century. Ironically, the class of students acting in it is male-dominated with a 11 males to 5 females according to McCulley.
The theatre productions also don’t just use the skills of student actors — the ‘backstage’ preparation is done by students as well.
“I always aim to create a set that is going to make you feel something, not just take you to a location,” said Cecelia Vadala, a master’s of fine arts student whose thesis is the set design for Timothy Findley’s The Wars.
“There’s magic in it.”
A design is a combination of the elements of colour, scale, dimensions, materials such as fabric or wood, lights, layout — and also the audience. Vadala likens the process of designing the set to creating a living sculpture.
“I like to go to the edges of ideas to find my way to realism with these elements,” she said.
“Every show will have its personal way of digging into the perspectives of these concepts.”
So, why get dressed and go to the theatre? You get to see something for the first and last time, and everyone will experience something different. It is at once a personal, private experience and a collective, shared experience.
Students can see all the shows for a subscription price of $32 or a single ticket is available for $11.50.