news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Infinity's Dora award-winning playwright, Hannah Moscovitch, shares insight about her creative process and why this remount will be different from the premiere.

With the rehearsals of Infinity officially underway Hannah Moscovitch took a moment to reflect on the creation of the play and the the breathtaking new writing which she has crafted for the script.

Hannah Moscovitch won the Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding New Play for Infinity

Q: What inspired Infinity?

Research! Ross Manson commissioned me to write this play in 2008, and the talks we had then helped me to form the initial ideas for the play. I then worked with Lee Smolin’s theories, he’s the consulting theoretical physicist on the project. I also worked my personal relationship to time and death into the text.

Q: What issues were you trying to bring to the forefront by writing this play?

I was interested in how habits of thought and behaviour echo down through generations. I wanted to create a project that condensed time and showed you, the audience, a significant portion of a romance between two people who were good people but terrible when together. I wanted to write about unreality, and how modernity has called into question so many of our cherished notions. I was also interested in how death intensifies our relationship to our families, legacy and time.  And I wanted to write, as I always do, complicated characters in the throws of a psychic shift. This makes the play sounds very cerebral: talking about the themes usually does that with my texts. As a writer, I like big ideas, but I want there to be big emotions in my pieces as well.

Q: When you look at the play now almost 2 years on, is there anything you would change?

Paul Braunstein, Amy Rutherford & 
Andréa Tyniec (violinist) in Infinity 

Ross and I have been emailing back and forwards these past few days, working around naps and nannies because we both have toddlers, about our revisions to the text. I love remounts, they allow me to finesse the text in a way you often can’t on a premiere, because when you’re putting it all up the first time you don’t know yet how all the elements (text, design, choreography, composition, performance) will come together. On a remount and tour you can go deeper, clearer (or more clearly ambiguous!) So anything I would change, I am changing. 

Infinity runs Jan 4-29 at Tarragon's Extraspace. For details and tickets click here.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Composer extraordinaire Njo Kong Kie and virtuoso violinist Andréa Tyniec reflect on creating and performing the music for Infinity

The Dora award-winning play Infinity returns to the Tarragon's Extraspace (Jan 4-29) by popular demand. Infinity features an original score by world class composer Njo Kong Kie which is performed by the virtuosic violinist Andréa Tyniec. Both artists share with us their experience of creating the score and performing it.

Njo Kong Kie composed the music for Infinity

Q: Kong Kie can you tell us a little about how you first came to be involved in the making of Infinity

A: Quite a few years ago, before Ross even knew me, I gave him a CD of mine, Picnic in the Cemetery, but thought no more of it as I didn't hear back from him for at least a couple of years.

During that time we did run into each other regularly in industry events and during one of these he told me he was going to be in Montreal so I invited him to attend a dance piece I scored for Anne Plamondon in the city at that time. I think that jogged his memory about the CD I gave him because shortly after, he invited me to come on board with Infinity. He thought the music in the album had the feel appropriate for the play and there was a particular tune from the album, Formula 1, which he asked me to incorporate into the soundtrack.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your creative process and how you went about designing the score.

A: Before the scoring could begin, we first had to figure out what the instrumentation would be. We went from having one string instruments representing each of the characters to just a solo violin. Since touring the show was always the plan, it makes sense to reduce the size of the orchestra, both numerically and physically, but it also allows us to give a voice to Carmen, to highlight and reflect her character a little fuller through music. Something that was not explicitly told to the audience, but nonetheless informed my design of the score was that the music we hear in the show is her composition - early works that she let Elliott listen to. As it turns out, he really liked them and in fact listened to them often which was something that surprised her.

Once we decided on the instrumentation, I set off writing a piece based on Formula 1. At the time Ross said that he liked the fact that the musical structure of the work while quite precise is nonetheless rather lopsided so I kept that in the new work I created. And the motif of this piece recurs quite a few times throughout the play, so it may be something to watch for.

At the same time, I wrote a short contrasting piece so that we had something different to work with. I was away at the time, so I just emailed Ross and Andréa the score and they went with it during rehearsal. I was happy to hear via email that the pieces worked well.

There were a few more workshops along the way and each time I would write a little more, and test the music out with the whole team. All design decisions were made gradually over time, as we explored Hannah's text and as she made revisions based on discoveries which took place during the workshops and rehearsals adjustments were made to reflect that in the music. We just kept refining the work as we went along. There were some negotiations somewhere in terms of how the music could be used, or where, or some editing challenges, but the process was very organic and never felt forced. We just developed the work a little bit at a time and fit the various pieces of the puzzle together.

Q: What were you trying to evoke with your music?

Kong Kie & Andréa during the 2014 workshop

As mentioned, the music is supposed to be Carmen's compositions. I imagined these to be early works, perhaps improvisations she made on the violin while she was practising and so I was trying to imagine what she would be like in her early days as a composer, and what her music would be like if she was just doodling. These short pieces are meant to have a kind of impromptu character to them. I am not sure if she ever reworked them, some yes others perhaps not, I don't think she would have laboured over them too much, even though I did in order to make them sound like she didn't!

On a theatrical level, the music also needs to underline the dramatic situation of each scene, so I kept that in mind as I worked on the music.

Another design element is that the entire score is based on a few musical motifs; and that there is a piece whose construction is based on a mathematical number.
For the audience member who enjoys playing listening games, see if you can notice these elements.

Furthermore, since both Carmen and Sarah Jean are virtuoso players, the score needed to put some demand on the player. We are lucky to have Andréa in the show, it is an absolute treat to work with her and for the audience to listen to. It is an absolute treat. Andréa is such a fantastic player and collaborator. She helped me so much in terms of finding the right technical approach to achieve the kind of sound we needed.

I also feel lucky to have a director like Ross who cares deeply about the integrity of the musical score, he really tried to use each work I proposed in its entirety as much as possible. Of course, I tried not to give him music that lasts 10 min at a time because there would be no dramaturgical reason for it in this context, but we managed to put in a few pieces that last two, or three minutes. During this process I was able to write a substantial amount of music for the show and that is very satisfying for me and I hope for the audience as well.

Q: Andréa, how does it feel playing Kong Kie’s composition?

Andréa Tyniec performs in Infinity

I met Kong Kie in 2010 and played some of his works during a residency we both did at the Banff Centre. Back then, I had no idea that we'd be working together in this way and it's been really interesting to see his compositions take shape during rehearsals for Infinity. I feel they evoke the bigger themes in the play, most of all Time, and because they were created in such close connection to the characters and their journey, it's always a powerful experience for me to perform in Infinity

Infinity runs Jan 4-29 at Tarragon's Extraspace. For details and tickets click here.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Q & A with Kim Collier

Kim Collier is a Director, Creator, Teacher, Actress and the co-founder of Electric Company Theatre where she was Artistic Producer for 15 years. She loves site-specific work has a vast array of large-scale, site specific works.  Kim is the recipient of the prestigious Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize for Directing; 4 Jessie Richardson Awards and a Sterling Award for Direction and with Electric Company,  3 Jessie Awards for writing and numerous innovation awards. She is a Graduate of Studio 58 as an Actress. Kim brings her passion for site-specific theatre to the 2016 Volcano Conservatory, teaching "Site-Specific Performance Creation" July 25-29 at The Theatre Centre.

Kim Collier
Q: Why are you so attracted to site-specific performance?

A: I love site-specific work for a number of reasons. It breaks down the institutional barrier between the audience and the performer. It is a way to bring theatre to the people and meet them in a place where they may feel more comfortable or excited to join in. Live arts in sites transforms how we view an everyday space and creates meaning and a sense of event. When rehearsing in a site-specific place you often get curious public walking by and before your know it, they are signing up to come back to see the show. I believe in creating community, and I feel site-specific work has some real tangible results in connecting community to artists and expression.

I also love site-specific work because, if done well, it's so theatrical. A site stimulates the artists' mind to imagine in all kinds of surprising ways. I think surprise is a great word. Surprise in the theatre or live performing arts is gold. We all want to experience something new, something fresh, something alive. There is an 'aliveness' to site-specific work.

However, some artists impose a piece of theatre or art into a space. Can the performance answer the question "Why is this work in this location?" If not, I think it has failed to be site-specific. You often see this: a normal stage play set under a bridge (for example), with no adjustment for the space. I would not call this site-specific; I would call this a play set under a bridge.

Kim working with her 2015 Conservatory class.

Q: What will you be exploring in your Volcano Conservatory workshop? 

A: What I want to explore in the workshop is thinking big and being immersive with sites, to dive deeply into the creative potential of a space, and to push ourselves to create work in a short amount of time into sites collectively. Spaces can tell you what stories they want to tell. You can follow the site. 

My work at Electric Company on several occasions mined sites for stories. One example is: The Wake
For this play we toured around Vancouver looking for a site with great creative / staging potential. This site was near a community centre where we gathered our audiences, and from there the performance proceeded along False Creek Inlet, passing by a tennis court, a factory, docks and bridges, etc. We loved the site; so then we began to create our show from researching the history of that land. It had been a First Nations burial sight, then owned by the CPR and then an ammunitions factory for WW2. There were great characters in this history and points of conflict. We used this history and the layout of the land to create a play in eleven locations.

Q:  Who should take your class? Why?

A: Directors, actors, creators, designers…really anyone making theatre or live art. You should take this course to exercise your creative mind, to gather skills in creation, to know how to prep  for the challenges of sites as a Theatre Maker / Producer,  to widen your imagination and ambition as to what is possible in site-specific theatre making, and to benefit from a safe work environment to take risks and play as a creative artist making work in a collaborative, mutually supportive setting.

Kim Collier teaches Site-Specific Performance Creation at the 2016 Volcano Conservatory, July 25-29, 2016 at The Theatre Centre. Space is limited, so register now!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Q & A with Deborah Pearson

Deborah Pearson is founder and one third of the award winning UK-based arts collective Forest Fringe. In Toronto she most recently showed a work-in-progress of History History History at the Progress Festival, and co-created the immersive dance piece The Queen West Project with Allison Cummings in 2012. In 2009 and 2016 she and her Forest Fringe co-directors were named in the Stage 100 list of the 100 most influential people working in UK theatre. She is an associate artist with Volcano, and recently submitted a practice-based PhD on narrative in contemporary performance at Royal Holloway, where she was a Reid scholar. Deborah is co-creator of Volcano's experimental performance lab, inFORMING CONTENT. Much of Deborah's own artistic work blurs the lines between reality and fiction, and in her 2016 Volcano Conservatory class "Playing with the Real: Approaches to Non-Fictional Theatre" she will push her students to explore 'truth' on stage. 

Q: What is "Playing with the Real"?

"Playing with the Real" is a course about collaborating and negotiating with “the real” in theatre.  "The Real" or "Non-fiction" is about moving us out of a frame of mind where we take fictional characters and settings for granted as being a default-setting for theatre.  I'm interested in having us explore theatre that attempts to tell no lies, and when it is lying, is honest about it.  The course will be split up into “real people”, “real places” and “real time."  We will spend time focusing on either playing yourself on stage or working with performers (or non-performers) who are playing themselves on stage, and on including content about real people on stage.  We'll move on to working with the reality of a space, not attempting to have a piece transform a space so much as allowing the space to transform and collaborate with the piece.  Finally we’ll look at the “real time” that audiences and performers spend together – how to acknowledge the shared time spent in the theatre, and when a performance becomes an event or a happening.

Q: You're a returning teacher at the Volcano Conservatory--what makes you want to come back?
I had a great time teaching the Volcano Conservatory last year – the students are intelligent and engaged and really committed to expanding their practice, taking risks and introducing new ideas and perspectives into their work.  The topic I’m teaching at the Conservatory this year is about distancing Canadian theatre from fictional stories, characters and settings as a default setting for live performance, and instead thinking through the possibilities of a performance as an unrepeatable event with the potential to change and provoke.  There are a lot of artists in Canada already doing amazing work in this vein, and a lot of artists who I know are interested in making more of this kind of work.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing who comes out and to getting to know their interests and preoccupations!  

Q: Who do you imagine will benefit from participating in "Playing with the Real"? 

The course is for artists who are already making more unconventional theatre as well as theatre artists who are accustomed to more conventional theatre. It's for any professionals who are interested in expanding their practice and making work that focusses more on the live, the real and the unrepeatable. This class is about encouraging artists to shift the priorities and conversations that begin the process of making a new piece. Like many of the workshops I’ve taught with Volcano before, I’m always on a mission to help make work that does not take form for granted in theatre – that does not see a well made play taking place in a fictional world as a default, but as one possible choice among many.  I like to help make and facilitate work where the form that artists choose for their work is born out of the content they want to explore.

 If you’re a theatre maker who is already making this kind of work, this course will give you an excuse to make more of it, and to think through and question what you perhaps already know instinctively or from experience.  If you’re a theatre maker who has primarily acted in plays or written plays with fictional characters and settings, but who is interested in doing something else with audiences, who is perhaps interested in conceptual art, performance art, live art and installation-based art, and bringing some of the techniques and thinking used in that work into theatre, then I hope that this course will also be for you.

Deborah Pearson performing History History History 

Q:  As you've mentioned, the majority of your own artistic practice is based in 'the real'. Can you tell us about a recent project of yours made with these approaches?
Almost every project I’ve ever made has worked with “non-fictional” approaches in some way.  I'm constantly collaborating with real sites, or real people, or real objects.  I'm interested in trying to tell "true" stories in a theatrical form, even if the "truth" is an illusive, ephemeral and largely absent thing.  My most recent piece, History History History, which I showed a work-in-progress version of at Progress in Toronto this January, collaborated with a Hungarian film from 1956 to attempt to tell the story behind the film in terms of its historical implications, and the large scale political (now historical) events that impacted both the film, and me.

Although the actors in the film are playing fictional characters, framed in this way the audience can see them as living, breathing human beings, just doing their job - the job of being actors in a film.  The audience begins to sense the very real consequences that the political events in Hungary had on the actors who are immortalised on screen doing a funny dance or pretending to play football.  The people in the film, the writer of the film, the director of the film, are all real people, many of whom have died and some of whom are alive but very very old.   I had some ethical concerns while making the piece around how to frame their stories/histories, and whether or not I was the right person to tell them given that I could not offer a definitive version (if a definitive version even exists).  I tried to bring this ambiguity and sense of the loss of a "definitive version" of the truth through history into the piece.  I was as explicit as possible with the audience about my personal connection to the film and to the piece, and the biases and difficulties that connection creates.  Using real people’s stories and biographies is always a minefield – it generally makes for very interesting work, but I do believe it should be done responsibly, as much as possible.  Then again, the UK comedian Kim Noble’s show You’re Not Alone uses almost entirely real people's images and stories without their consent – it’s probably one of the most unethical pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen – and one of the most interesting.  This is just one element of working with the real in performance, and one that I'm constantly grappling with, as both an audience member and an artist.

Deborah Pearson's class "Playing with the Real" runs as part of the Volcano Conservatory from July 25-29, 2016 at The Theatre Centre. You can register here.  You can find out more about Deborah's work at her website

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Q & A with Daniel Brooks

Daniel Brooks is a writer, director and performer who has collaborated with a wide range of artists throughout his career. He was co-artistic director of The Augusta Company, Artistic Director of Necessary Angel from 2003-2012, and is currently an associate artist at Soulpepper, where he teaches. His many awards include the Siminovitch Prize. His work has toured across Canada and around the world. Daniel has taught at the Conservatory several times, and joins us this year with his course "Dynamics of Space". Here, Daniel speaks to Erupting Now about this class and his unique approach: 

Q: What will "Dynamics of Space" be all about? 

A: I will be teaching a course that strips away all politic, metaphor, and psychology, in order to explore simple stage dynamics:  the body in space, the body in motion, the body in relationship to other bodies. We will do simple exercises - but simple in a way that is often difficult, for it requires a kind of training and concentration that demands a simple presence and awareness. Participants will act as “directors” and actors. The exercises we examine will be beneficial to both directors and actors, as we will be exploring fundamental aspects of stage dynamics.  

As the “director” works on a presentation, we will also be examining how each individual communicates, how they can more effectively communicate and command the attention of the actor and of the room. We will also explore the actors ability to collaborate with a director. How can an actor contribute to a collaboration while at the same time taking exacting instruction?

Q: Your class follows a very specific series of exercises. What do you find to be the benefits of this more structured approach?

A: There are endless skills and capacities that theatre makers can develop. I believe we sometimes overlook simple technical skills, that can be applied to any kind of theatre creation. A more structured approach allows the participant to examine their work more objectively. By stripping away more conventional “meanings” (political, psychological or otherwise), by clearing the air and working technically, other unexpected meanings emerge in the work. In addition, I think working technically is fun!

Q: Who will benefit from participating in Dynamics of Space?
A: Actors and directors who are interested in stage dynamics, especially the dynamics of the body of the performer in space, and advancing their ability to communicate clearly.  

Q: What makes you want to return to the Volcano Conservatory as an instructor? 

A: I always look forward to being inspired by the energy, talent and enthusiasm of the participants.  

Space is filling quickly for Dynamics of Space! You can register here. Information about the full slate of Conservatory offerings in 2016 can be found here. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Q&A with Peggy Baker

Peggy Baker's Movement for Actors course has been a staple of the Volcano Conservatory since 2011. This course allows participants to connect with their physicality in new, exciting and imaginative ways and has had been popular among actors, directors, dancers, physical theatre performers and more every year that it has been offered. 

Peggy Baker is an internationally acclaimed dance artist and a master teacher. She teaches all across Canada and has designed programs accessible to dancers and non-dancers alike, across the spectrum of ability and background. We spoke to Peggy about Movement for Actors and why she keeps coming back to the Volcano Conservatory.

Photo of Peggy Baker by Vikram Dasgupta

Q: What can participants in Movement for Actors expect?

A: This work provides time and space and projects that bring us home to our bodies. We will connect with the reality of our flesh, blood, bones and breath and prime ourselves to listen to the images and impulses that emerge in an embodied state.

2015 Movement for Actors participants
Photo by Elee Stalker

Q: What excites you about teaching as a part of the Volcano Conservatory?

A: Working in a stripped performance space, with a group of artists ready to explore and create, is food for my soul. 

Q: Who might benefit from participating in Movement for Actors?

A: This class is designed for anyone who’d like to set aside the time to tune in to their body as a locus of creativity and expression. We’ll explore pathways to relax, to focus, to energize, to create, to perform and to witness. 

2015 participant, Photo by Elee Stalker
Q: What can actors learn about their bodies by taking your class?

A: The language of the body is sensation, intuition, imagination… and we’ll be working to access that language, and to speak it, with immediacy and originality.

Registration for Movement for Actors is still open. Spaces are limited, so register now! For more information on all the classes on offer in the 2016 Volcano Conservatory, click here. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Q & A with John Beale

John Beale is a Toronto based actor, teacher and director. A graduate of The Philippe Gaulier International Theatre School in Paris, John also trained, performed and taught extensively with Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts and is now an artistic associate with reWork productions in Toronto. This is John's first year teaching at the Volcano Conservatory. 

We spoke to John to learn a little more about his class, "Presence", and his approach to teaching:

Q: Can you tell us about "Presence", the course you’ll be teaching for the Volcano Conservatory?

A: With this work we discover the ways in which we reveal ourselves and how we hide away. This form connects us with our enormous pleasure to play but then presents us with the formidable task of making everyone burst out laughing. Our ego rushes in to save the day either pushing too much or shying away. This fear of failure brings out all our tricks we use to avoid being exposed. It's when our best intentions fall flat the pretense of the ego is revealed. The rug is pulled. The thin ice cracks and what is uncovered is a beautiful, sensitive, vulnerable presence behind the slipping mask of ego- a presence that fills the room. We show up. It's very powerful. So in the end it's not about being funny or goofy or small or cute it's about showing our true presence. Paradoxically the goal we set out to achieve in the first place happens by accident. There is a burst of laughter but not a derisive or pitiful laughter, it's a huge heartfelt, belly laugh at the human condition. The audience falls in love. 

Q: What about the experience of teaching in the Volcano Conservatory are you looking forward to?

A:What a great opportunity to be under one roof with such a great collection of teachers and students drawn from all corners of the performance world. 

Q: Who should take your class? Why?

A: The form is studied to discover one's clown. For actors it's Jedi training - an essential workout to become more sensitive, open and connected to your audience. For non-actors it's a practice of facing fears, showing up and finding a powerful connection with others, opening that channel between you and them. Everyone will have the experience they need. People come to this challenging and rewarding work when they're ready. 

Q:  You offer this class for performers and non-performers alike. What’s different about working with those two groups? What’s it like when they come together in class?

A: I always prefer working with a range of ages and experiences in the room. Having a large cross section of participants enriches the ride for everyone. A lot is learned through observing. Actors witness how present non-actors can be by accident and non-actors see how it's possible to craft these "accidents". 

Registration is open for all courses in the Volcano Conservatory. Don't miss out, spaces are limited. Check back soon for interviews with some of our other illustrious instructors!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Q & A with Suvendrini Lena

Suvendrini Lena is a neurologist who is particularly interested in conditions that explicitly alter the fabric of consciousness – epilepsy, dementia, psychosis and migraine. 

She works as the Staff Neurologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and at the Centre for Headache at Women’s College Hospital. She is a Lecturer in Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Toronto where she teaches medical students, residents and fellows. She also teaches a course called Staging Medicine which is a collaboration between The Theatre Centre and U of T Postgraduate Medical Education.

In addition to her impressive medical pursuits, Suvendrini is also a playwright. Her first play, The Enchanted Loom, inspired by an experience in a neurosurgical OR, will be produced by Cahoots and Factory Theatre in 2016. She is a playwright-in-residence at Cahoots where she is working on a second play entitled Rubble. She is currently scientist in residence at The Theatre Centre where she is developing an interdisciplinary work exploring voice in schizophrenia.

Suvendrini tries to explore a different crevice of her dusty old brain, or someone else’s, everyday.

For inFORMING CONTENT 2016, Suvendrini will speak on the way that our brains process colours, windows, our time webs, and life lines now, in our digitized world.

Q: What would you like us to know about your current work? 

A: I’ve been studying/learning/practising neurology/neuroscience for at least 15 years now. I’m struck by the accelerating pace of change in my field driven in part by the convergence of computation science and neuroscience in efforts to map, and really to transform the nature and boundaries of consciousness. I used to go to science fiction movies (which I love) and think I was watching a vision of the future. Now, I often feel like I’m watching the past. I don’t know who can imagine the future anymore.

Q: Can you tell us about a piece of art that you saw/read/heard that changed your perspective?

A: Einstein on the Beach (Opera, Phillip Glass) –  in which numbers are inherently beautiful and both totally abstract and absolutely real. I felt that I understood something about infinity afterwards. It is four hours long and celebrates repetition and so I saw it twice.

Written on the Skin (Opera, Martin Cripp & George Benjamin) and My Name is Black (Novel, Orhan Pamuk). Both stories about love and murder and medieval manuscript painting. I’m fascinated by the representation of the infinite within the miniscule. The scientific parallel would be the way the cellular and molecular world seems to expand ever inwards as one descends into it through a microscope.

Q: What’s your most creative solution when you’re feeling blocked or stuck in your work? 

A: I walk among tall trees or near water. My favourite strategy is to do it at night. It’s a good way to confront the shadows. 

Q: What motivates you when you’re feeling uninspired? 

A: We live. We breathe. Inspiring, expiring.

I work with people who are often very ill, sometimes dying. In the course of my training I have seen a lot of degeneration, suffering and death, in the young and the old. The knowledge that life is very short and little is truly within our control is ever with me. And so, as long as I am alive, feeling, sensing, breathing, moving, I am not uninspired.

Everyone is welcome to attend Suvendrini's lecture at inFORMING CONTENT 2016. You can register here

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

inFORMING CONTENT Preview: A Chat with Alanna Mitchell

Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian journalist, and author, who writes about science and social trends. She is a global thinker who specializes in investigative reporting. Her book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis, is an international best seller that won the prestigious U.S.-based Grantham Prize for excellence in environmental journalism. Her one-woman play based on that book was nominated for a Dora award and has toured nationally and internationally. For inFORMING CONTENT 2016, Alanna will deliver a talk on the potential reversal of Earth's magnetic poles. Here, she answers some questions about her work and her inspiration. 

Alanna Mitchell

Q: What would you like us to know about your current work?

A: I am working on a book about the potential reversal of the Earth’s two magnetic poles. North will become South and South will become North. As that flip happens, the Earth’s magnetic field, which helps protect life on the planet from solar radiation will decay, becoming only a tenth of its normal strength. The last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago.  

Q:  Can you tell us about a piece of art that you saw/read/heard that changed your perspective?

A: Ravi Jain’s Gimme Shelter. At the end of the one-man piece, Ravi left the stage and each member of the audience had choose someone on the other side of the theatre space and physically and emotionally connect — would you let this person drown rather than enter your country? It was shattering.  

Q: Have you collaborated on artistic projects before?

A: Yes! My play Sea Sick was a full-on collaboration that would not have happened without the help of Franco Boni and Ravi Jain. Together we developed a script and then the two of them directed the play while I performed it. 

Q: What was the most unexpected discovery that came out of this conversation?

A: That the process was just as important and the final product. Revelation! And so wildly different from the journalistic process, where it’s all about what ends up on the page. 

Q: What’s your most creative solution when you’re feeling blocked or stuck in your work? 

A: I read beautifully written non-fiction. Or else I sleep and the words come to me. 

Q:  What motivates you when you’re feeling uninspired?

A: Going for long walks. 

Hear Alanna's contribution to inFORMING CONTENT on Friday, April 29, 2016 at 6:30pm at The Theatre Centre. Tickets are free and can be reserved here. 

On May 1, come see Alanna's work interpreted by a group of experimental performing artists led by artistic leaders from Toronto and beyond. Tickets are free and can be reserved here. 

You can learn more about Alanna's work by visiting her website.