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Theatre Outré opens season with object theatre presentation of Sapientia

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Theatre Outré opens their season with Sapientia, Oct. 30-Nov. 3 at Club Didi.
“It’s perfect for Halloween,” said producer Jay Whitehead who performs in the play, written in the tenth century by Roswitha of Gandersheim.Jordan Payne and Jay Whitehead perform in Theatre Outré’s production of Sapientia at Club Didi, Oct. 30-Nov.3. photo by Richard Amery
 Director Mia Van Leeuwen uses object theatre to tell the story of a woman who goes to Rome, preaching Christianity with her three daughters.

“The Emperor Hadrian tells her to stop, but she doesn’t so they torture and kill her daughters,” said Van Leeuwen, noting she has done the show in Edmonton in 2014, Winnipeg in 2015 and in Montreal this past summer.

She noted the objects she used in the performances have  changed over the course of the performances.
“If you were to do this in a film or in stage form, it would be something like Game of Thrones,” said Theatre Outré producer Jay Whitehead, who plays Hadrian. So while actors Whitehead, Jordan Payne, Kathy Zaborsky and Erica Barr perform the lines,  a mirror, espresso maker, flashlight and tea cups are the actual characters.
“ It‘s like puppetry, except we make no secret of the fact that the actors are manipulating the puppets,” Whitehead said.
“It’s very dark, but we’ve also found a lot of humour in it,” he continued.

“ But because we’re using objects, it makes the subject matter a little more palatable,” Whitehead said.
“ But it’s still very disturbing,” he added.

“It deals with religious extremism, ” said Van Leeuwen, noting the subject matter has become even more relevant today.
“I can’t imagine martyring a daughter or dying for a cause,” she said, adding she brought the play to fellow U of L drama prof Whitehead for consideration for Theatre Outré because she like the theme, the idea of doing it as object theatre and letting people know about the playwright who is the first known female playwright.

“My previous performances have also been done as object theatre,” she said.
“I was inspired to tell this story and because she is the first  female playwright, so I wanted to let people know about her,” she said.
 The production requires an extensive sound folio created by fourth Year U of L performance major Corey Ariss.


“We use objects like a toaster, aThe stars of Sapientia. Photo by Rchard Amery slide whistle and an Acme horn which sounds like a siren,” Ariss said, adding it has been a lot of fun finding out what sounds he can get from ordinary household objects.
“Mia has adapted these objects to be the characters. It’s been adapted to object theatre, so it’s been interesting seeing how everything has come together,” Ariss said.
“ I really love this style of theatre. It requires a lot of imagination. It’s very cool,” he said.
‘But doing it is really challenging,” he said, adding sometimes the  objects he is using to create the soundscape break down adding to the challenge.
“But I like the challenge of this show,” he added.

It is the first of three Theatre Outré performances this season.
“There is no nudity this season. But they all fit with Theatre Outré’s mandate of pushing the envelope and being different,” he said.
The next production is Brett Dahl’s “Like Orpheus,” running Feb. 25-March 1.

“ It’s a very poetic story by a U of L grad student. And There will be music by DJ Rabbyt, Lyndsay Labrecque,” he said.
The last production of the season is ‘Where the Two Spirit Lives by Marshall Vielle.
“ It explores the life of an indigenous queer person. It will be held in conjunction with Pridefest in June (14-18)
Sapientia runs at Club Didi, Oct. 30-Nov. 3  at 8 -10 p.m. each night. Tickets are $20.

— by Richard Amery, LA. Beat Editor

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