By James Keller
Years ago, Calgary Mayor Al Duerr tried to institute a western day at local offices–similar to "casual Fridays"–in light of our reputation as a "cow town." A similar scene was visible when painted cows were scattered throughout downtown in the recent Udderly Art exhibition. According to University of Calgary Drama student Eric Moschopedis, these are perfect examples of how a city can shape us, and how we shape it.
"It’s bizarre. This city is so beautiful and the people in it are incredible, but there’s these things we project onto the city," says Moscho-pedis, who along with Ethan Cole and Carmen Pineda-Selva, star in the play Nude (in) Fusion March 20-24. "We perpetuate the image of our city as a cow town, but we’re not really cowboys–we sell that idea to the world through the Stampede."
As members of Calgary’s newest theatre company, Bubonic Tourist, the three-person ensemble explores the always-changing city and how it relates to the identities of the characters.
"Three individuals meet on a street corner, and it’s that split second when their subconsciouses connect… extended over the period of the play," says Moschopedis of the play’s plot. "It’s a surreal vision of exploration."
Just as the city changes the characters, each character is shaped by the other two throughout the course of the play. Moschopedis says the conclusion that can be reached, both about people and Calgary, is "you can’t make any conclusions."
"That’s what it’s all about–it never finishes," says Moschopedis, adding relationships, with their surroundings are two-way. "Our identity is our landscape, but our landscape is also the identity we give it."
Moschopedis recalls similar experiences in his own life, especially through the course of the play’s creation. He points to how the transit strike and construction on campus affected rehearsals and the group’s state of mind.
"Even on campus, right there," he says, pointing to the half-finished Information Communication Technologies building near MacEwan Hall. "Buildings always being built, destroyed. The city’s never finished."
A parallel can also be seen between the characters and how Moschopedis views the people of Calgary.
"Our identity is always in a state of becoming. The city will never be finished as we’ll never be finished."
The play shows this sense of becoming through the play’s non-traditional format. This change, something Moschopedis sees becoming more common, is another example of the city changing.
"It’s already happening in our city," he says, pointing out local theatre groups such as One Yellow Rabbit. "We’re not slaves to a script. Instead we’re creating a performance out of personal experience, out of overheard conversations, out of everything."
This helps the themes of growth and change show, since it in some way mirrors the complicated and unpredictable process of how we interact with our surroundings.
"It jumps around and it’s not easy to comprehend," Moschopedis says. "Meaning happens or seems to happen by accident, but really it doesn’t."