STORIES FROM A SMALL HOUSE: Small House Toronto

STORIES FROM A SMALL HOUSE: Small House Toronto

Theatre for small houses is thriving in Toronto. A recent article by Alison Broverman in the Toronto Star featured three companies doing site-specific work in unconventional venues, often locations too small to allow for large audiences. Red One Theatre Collective has performed at several art galleries, but they have also staged Mark O'Rowe's Howie the Rookie in an alley, and their production of Albee's Zoo Story toured seven of Toronto's public parks. The video below, from the Red One website, gives the feel of the latter production (I like the kids playing in the background).

Broverman interviews Red One co-founder Benjamin Blais about the economic considerations of the work they do:

Though part of Red One’s mandate is to shake up the typical theatre experience by taking it out of conventional venues, economics is a factor too. “The fact is, Toronto theatre spaces are expensive,” says Blais. Using spaces like alleyways and garages was a creative way to solve the money problem. But it turned out to be quite serendipitous, and now we’ve really found our groove.”

Broverman's piece also highlights Litmus Theatre's recently closed Matchbox Macbeth, subtitled "Shakespeare in a Shed." In the trailer for the production posted on the Matchbox Macbeth blog, there seems to be liberal use of candle and matchlight -- ideal for Macbeth both in terms of mood and theme, and perfect for a location that holds only a dozen people.

The show got a glowing review in Toronto's NOW Magazine, praising the show's small scale as a major source of its strength:

The production was filled with surprising dramatic touches. King Duncan (Sobretodo) entered striding on two milk cartons, his extra height giving him more stature. When Lady Macbeth (the intense Wynveen) talked about his murder, she used a series of lit votive candles to represent the king, his grooms and Macbeth. When the regicide killed Duncan, Lady Macbeth took the small candle that stood for her husband and snuffed out Duncan’s flame. As the dead Banquo, Renda appeared and disappeared with ghostly suddenness. Shadow play, images seen through the shed’s window and a mix of lullabies and up-tempo songs all contributed to a memorable hour. [...] Matchbox Macbeth may have been the smallest production of the Scottish play that we’ve seen, but in artistic terms it was enormous. An innovative reinterpretation of a classic, it’s the kind of show that makes going to the theatre so exciting.

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