There’s no denying the amount of innovative theatre happening in Vancouver. Just this year we’ve already witnessed productions in a hotel room and a parking garage. Up next is Party This Weekend, which will see its premiere at a private residence in East Vancouver.
No strangers to site specific theatre, Scarlet Satin Productions, who are producing this new original work, also presented The Laundromat at the Swan Laundry on Burrard Street back in 2009. In the group’s newest piece, they literally take over the bungalow of local performer and teacher Henry J. Mah.
Based on an idea that ironically came to creators Diana Squires and Laura McLean at a backyard party last summer, the show has been in development for some eight months with a collective of writers responsible for the four storylines that will play out each night. The audience will get to choose which one of the stories they will follow on the night they attend and while distinct, each will intersect and diverge through various rooms of the house.
One of the writers in the collective is Taylor Basso, a UBC graduate with a BFA in creative writing and a 2010 recipient of a Gay and Lesbian Business Association’s LOUD Foundation scholarship.
Basso, along with co-writers Josie Mitchell, Arlen Tom and Diana Squires, wrote the storyline for “Vivian”, the youngest person at the party and someone Basso described as being ill-equipped for it.
“She’s kind of looking for someone to indulge her love of Usher and the Jonas Brothers and this is just utterly the wrong party for it,” he explained. “It’s kind of a love story but at its heart it’s a story about making a connection. Vivian doesn’t really fit in so she’s spent all of her time alone seeking refuge in pop culture. I guess her story has a very gay sensibility that way.”
For Basso and the collective, writing one part of a quartet of stories took some real planning, not a little compromise and at times he found himself swallowing his ego for the good of the group and the play.
“In a project like this, with shared scenes and interwoven stories, you can’t really write completely alone. It would be a disaster. We plotted out scenes together and then took them home and wrote out our characters’ scripts.”
One would probably be forgiven in thinking a play taking place in a private residence at a party would be a prime target for improv and, while extensively scripted, Basso does admit the nature of the show does lend itself to that format.
“The audience isn’t constrained by the fourth wall – they’re guests at the party as well. Some will choose to be silent and observe but some won’t – and the actors will be ready for that,” he said. “The audience will also become participants and instigators in things like drinking games and dancing, which will look different every night.”
No stranger to scripts, Basso says he has been writing stage plays since he was sixteen years old and recently saw a production of his Fight the Cold with Ceramics and Glitter produced at the Brave New Play Rites Festival at UBC.
“This is my first love,” said Basso.
He hopes that the love shows through “a fun time, some good laughs and a renewed love for locally produced theatre”.
That and a really epic party.
Party This Weekend
518 Kaslo Street, Vancouver
15 July – 27 August 2011 (Friday & Saturdays only)
The House Party Collective & Scarlet Satin Productions present Party This Weekend, an original site-specific theatre event. Four storylines unfold at a house party…come as a guest and experience an unforgettable night through the eyes of the hostess, the douchebag, the hipster, or the wild child. Visit http://www.partythisweekend.ca for tickets and information.