1948 Vancouver. Recession. Grim. Noir. Human experience.
As part of the 2015 Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music will present the US premiere of the unconventional “high tech cold dark night,” Helen Lawrence.
Conceived and directed by Stan Douglas (David Zwirner Gallery) and written by Chris Haddock (CBC’s Davinci Inquest and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire), Helen Lawrence disrupts the traditional theatrical experience by simultaneously projecting a film on a scrim while actors act behind it.
You read that correctly. Helen Lawrence is a play and film at the same time.
Haddock invites us to “join the expedition into unexplored territory: into the past for source and future for the technology.” Through use of camera-controlled software, the actors and their actions seen on stage are simultaneously projected in a complete and fully staged film. The show seeks to highlight the essence of an era— a time where people coped with the reality of economic hardship, war, and depression— in a full bodied, all encompassing, experience that sometimes only a film can deliver. But it’s roots are grounded in theatre. Although we see the story on a scrim reminiscent of the grandiose point of view of a movie screen, we remember that behind every story there is a person. A character. An actor. And their experience. We see both. We see a larger than life depiction of a time with which many of us are not familiar, and we see the real human, which further allows us to identify with their story.
Douglas, a prominent Black Canadian artist, is known for his photography and projection-based work. He was one of the first artists to be part of the New York based gallery, David Zwirner. Helen Lawrence made its debut at the Vancouver Arts Club Theatre Company in the spring of 2014. It has also been presented at the Munich Kammerspiele, the Edinburgh International Festival, and Canadian Stage in Toronto.
Haddock described this project as “new and untried artistic” and how, because of this, it was irresistible to him.
I look forward to the new and untried when it comes to theatre. When you’re passionate about an art form that’s under criticism as fading out of relevance, it’s amazing to see glimpses into its future, its livelihood, its unconventionality, and its place in the world of entertainment.
What A Time To Be Alive.
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