By AJ Kalsi
For some, the theater has been an enigmatic place for the pompous and pretentious to attend in their mothballed nightwear and feign understanding of the arts. But those days of Frasier and friends have long since passed, making way for a more hipper and fresh perspective on the long thought musty theatre. Thanks to the efforts of the fresh and funky spirit of One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, theatre has been freed from the clutches of the opera glass wearing bourgeoisie. To help with the effort, Nicole Moin brings her show I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky and promises to throw off the air of pretension surrounding the theatre. “Contemporary theater is no longer for the few,” remarks Nicole. “I want this piece to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Such a claim is admirable, especially within the realm of experimental theatre and confined to only two actors on stage. Add elements of energetic movement, industrial lighting, dynamic architecture and dance, striking audio and captivating speech and, if everything doesn’t go horribly wrong, you have a compelling piece of theatre. “It’s a dinner party where you choose who you want to invite, choose the food, choose the drinks, choose the music and atmosphere and once you got everything going, all you can do is hope it works out,” describes Nicole.
Nicole wrote and choreographed I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky which offered her complete control on the creative and productive process, yet there was another agenda at play. “Part of the idea was to take the audience on a journey into the intense thoughts and emotions that the performers experience,” she muses. “In order to do this it was necessary to have really good actors.”
At first glance, the play appears very abstract and complicated in nature, exploring the resilience of the human spirit and delving into deep theological questions. But as Nicole remarks, almost resentfully, “This piece isn’t abstract at all, its something everyone can relate to; though everyone may take away something slightly different.”
Both Nicole’s notable track record and an experienced cast bring a high degree of anticipation. It boasts an original composition by Amir Parviz Amiri, a noted santur artist who studied with teachers Ravi Shanker and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Other cast members come as far as from Vancouver and all the way from Montreal. “We have a very diverse cast here who know what they are doing and do it well,” exclaims Nicole.
Seventeen years in the business, a psychology degree, and a childhood love for dance and theater all come together in Nicole Moin’s Calgary debut of I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky. It promises to be a fresh and groovy piece that has something to do with insects as well (I won’t ruin the surprise).