Local theatre spices up Pumphouse

By Eric Moschopedis

Local theatre company Maple Salsa’s latest production is more about "fucking" than anything else, according to University of Calgary graduate student and producer Ryan Beck.

Co-director Anthony Gerbrandt concurs.

"I guess the play is about relationships and what role sex plays," says Gerbrandt of The Blue Room. "[It’s] why we search for what we’re searching for–in relationships and what comes out of relationships. Ultimately it’s about love and lust."

The Blue Room, David Hare’s 1998 adaptation of Arthur Schnitzeler’s 1900 drama La Ronde, is the erotic journey through a series of sexual encounters set in a private room. Beginning with one couple, the play progresses through a multitude of connections, ending with a character from the first scene crossing paths with another character through the linneage of encounters. This string of events ultimately creates the final but cyclical encounter.

"[It’s structure] is like a big chain," says artistic director Javier Vilalta. "One scene is connected to the other one."

Adopting this notion of interconnectedness, co-directors Christine Johns and Gerbrandt chose to work collectively with the performers to design the presentation of each scene.

"I think what we’ve done here, is sort of approached the play like an ensemble, and worked collaboratively," says Gerbrandt. "So really my role is essentially to be a facilitator and guide the actors in the right direction, and kind of back them up on those choices, whatever those choices might be."

While it is these choices which Gerbrandt hopes will appeal to a wide audience, he also notes this was still a comfortable process, given the nature of the play.

"It’s a reality piece, and it is very reality-based [which] really lends itself to the stage."

The play also features nudity throughout, something that, although the company takes seriously, still approaches lightly.

"Yeah there’s nudity. We haven’t decided if it will be full frontal, but there will be nudity," jokes Gerbrandt.

However, co-artistic producer Norma Lewis defends it more critically.

"I’d really wish to welcome everyone to it," Lewis says, hoping to welcome viewers that might otherwise avoid such content. "Especially young people, because this should be an interesting experience, your first experience of nudity on stage, and out of something I think is a very well-written script. It’s not a shock-value play."

Gerbrandt suggests that ultimately, The Blue Room is very Freudian.

"It is about sex … and I think that is very universal."

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