news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

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!

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