The Electric Company's latest theatrical endeavor, Initiation Trilogy, is not only based on three books of poetry but involves a three-part "experiential and physical journey," where audience members meet at a secret location and are led to different venues where the performances take place.
In addition to getting a little exercise, director Anita Rochon suspects the play, which runs Oct. 15 to 28 as part of the 25th annual Vancouver Writers Fest, will make some viewers want to delve into the original verse.
"It's just exciting how much material and power a small package can contain," she said. "I always think of poems as these little packages that are busting at the seams full of life."
She says the three segments explore moments where people have to make a choice that will alter their identity and bring "intense change."
"You know when you're agonizing over a decision or you're immediately confronted with a decision that you have to make and it feels like you're jumping off a cliff. and the kind of rush that comes with making a choice," Rochon said. "For better or for worse, these characters are making really large choices and, for me, the piece explodes that moment, that moment of making a big choice."
The stories hail from books by Vancouver writers Jennica Harper (What it Feels Like for a Girl), Elizabeth Bachinsky (God of Missed Connections), and Marita Dachsel (Glossolalia), who adapted the poetry for the show that was created by playwright Kevin Kerr, Naomi Sider and Rochon.
The play's cast includes Wendy Morrow Donaldson, Emma Lindsay, Jennifer Paterson, Haig Sutherland and Colleen Wheeler.
What it Feels Like for a Girl features a woman in her 30s who's looking back on an intense friendship that happened when she was 13. God of Missed Connections focuses on a woman who's examining her Ukrainian heritage while confronting illness. Glossolalia highlights the man behind Mormonism, Joseph Smith, with audiences hearing from some of his many wives.
Attendees meet at one location on Granville Island, divide into three smaller, more intimate groups and travel to different performances where they'll be immersed in explorations of feminism, sexuality and identity.
Audience members will journey through one of the performances in pairs, be required to operate some of the show's mechanics and move through different locations during singular segments.
With the trip between the meeting place and three performance spaces taking place amid venues of the writers' festival on Granville Island, Initiation Trilogy is meant to conjure the ambiance of a mini festival.
But this year's 25th anniversary of the Writers Fest is anything but miniscule.
The lineup includes Margaret Atwood, Alistair MacLeod, Jane Urquhart, Vincent Lam, M.G. Vassanji and Rawi Hage, Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Diaz, Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent and favourites from closer to home such as Ivan E. Coyote, Anne Fleming and Patrick Lane.
MacLeod has written a short story specifically and exclusively for the festival, British novelist Martin Amis presents his new novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, two days before the festival's start at the Granville Island Stage and CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi will talk about his memoir, 1982, Nov. 19.
For more information, see writersfest. bc.ca.
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