One of the assignments for the graduating students in Red Deer College’s Theatre Performance and Creation program is to develop and perform a solo piece, about 10 minutes long, acting as multiple characters. The solos were performed this week, some on Thursday and some on Friday. I attended the Friday show, and afterwards I wished I’d been able to see the other nine performances as well. The Friday show was MCed by class member Richard Leurer, and other classmates who were not performing managed the tech and front of house duties, creating a friendly relaxed environment in the black-box space of Studio A, where I had seen first seen them perform a first-semester Showcase in December 2012.
The performers all acted as three or more different characters, signaling the shifts clearly to the audiences by changing position, posture, voice, and/or accent. Most of the female performers played both male and female characters, with the most entertaining and convincing male character being Victoria Day’s crotch-scratching homeless man. Bret Jacobs’ family story included a kind and entertaining Granny who aged along with the young protagonist. Both age shifts were communicated effectively and with affection. Jen Suter, Jessie Muir, Bret Jacobs, and Jake Tkaczyk all incorporated small child characters in their stories.
Jen Suter’s story of an overworked restaurant server, her unappealing co-worker, and her demanding patrons was a good choice to start the show because it was easy to understand and very funny. Several of the creators/performers ventured away from real-world settings to include elements of adventure-science fiction (J-P Lord’s mismatched crew on a voyage across the galaxy), disturbing encounters with metaphysical powers (Collette Radau’s visits from the fear of death, Jessie Muir’s angelic demon), or an imagined dystopic future (Taylor Pfeifer’s world of addiction to bottled emotions).
Victoria Day and Constance Isaac both told powerful contemporary-world stories of teenagers struggling to cope with difficult family situations. In Jake Tkaczyk’s piece, a seven-year-old protagonist encounters a couple of differently dangerous adults in a playground, and escapes disaster only because of the hostility between the malefactors, both of whom warn him about the other.
The program finished with Collette Radau’s work about encounters with a personified Fear of Death, but more generally about the experience of moving into an uncertain future. It made me cry.
The show poster, reproduced above, was designed by Miranda Radau.
The Red Deer College Theatre Performance and Creation class of 2014 has one more set of public performances. Skin Deep is a site-specific ensemble piece created by the performers. It will be performed April 20-24 at a site in Red Deer, and more information is at this Facebook page.