This week I set off to the Concordia Loyola campus to see a play put on by a 3rd and 4th year verbatim theatre class. The piece is entitled “Theatre____Buisness: Fill Us In” and it is directed by Harry Standjofski. This play is a result of a one-semester assignment given to these students to write and star in a documentary-style play commenting on the relationship between business and theatre.
The reason for the required plot about business and theatre comes from the unexpected relocation of the dance and theatre students from their own building to one floor in the John Molson School of Business. Due to the lack of space and being placed out of their element, these fine arts students felt obvious friction while trying to cohabitate in a business environment. To create a truthful and documentary-style piece, the students conducted interviews with an array of individuals with contrasting views on the relocation and the differences between theatre and business. These interviews are now planted within their play word-for-word, along with their own experiences and thoughts.
The cast is in some way playing themselves, a group of theatre students feeling frustrated and confused about where they fit in within the JSMB building. In these scenes they are wearing their own clothes, expressing their own thoughts and including confusions they had while writing the very play they are currently performing. The scenes rapidly jump back and forth between situations between the students and those they interviewed, creating an exciting portrait of the many opinions collected while writing this play.
We see the expected conversations between the business and theatre students about their cohabitation and how each other feels about the others’ chosen field of study. When the play begins to dig deeper into the situation, we see the interviews expand to Concordia faculty, members of the Canadian fine arts scene and even government officials.
The mood of the play remains exciting throughout its hour and a half course, consistently exploring the juxtaposition of these two worlds and the social trends that appear between them. They strive to find a connection between the two in light of their recent shared facilities. Where this plot could have been entirely serious, and even negative, there are many dimensions given to the play, one major theme being humour. One of the many running jokes being that Cirque Du Soleil is the only career path for a theatre student.
The play really stands out through how the direction was treated while writing the plot. The students could have told only their own story and expressed their own thoughts about the relationship between business and theatre within the walls of Concordia. Instead they stepped out of their own opinions and not only considered but also embraced the views that oppose theirs. They connect their own personal story with current issues of Arts Funding in Canada, allowing others to personally connect with them. The actors do not take themselves too seriously and poke fun at each other throughout the play, making it a sensitive, thought-provoking and hilarious piece to enjoy.
So whether you’re interested in Concordia politics, fine arts, business, or just feel like seeing a play, ‘Theatre____Business: Fill Us In’ is a great experience. The next shows are February 28th and 29th at 8pm, at the downtown campus (D.B. Clarke Theatre, Henry F. Hall Building, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. West). Tickets are $5 for students/seniors and $10 for general admission.