Ladies and gentlemen, it is summer in Montreal once again. Time for all the culture all the time all at once yeah! But how can you tell what will stand out? There are so many shows, so many productions popping up everywhere, which to chose and why?

I can`t speak for all of them. But I can tell you that in my experience, Title 66 Productions has the capacity to plant in your mind the seed of horrid reality and splice it with a touch of fantasy and humanitarian doubt. They`ll wrap it up in pretty tin foil and it will taste like candy.

I got the chance to sit and chat with co-directors Logan Williams and Jeremy Micheal Segal on Friday, and we spoke of their newest production, Nuclear Sky: The Experiment, premiering This Wednesday, June 3rd, as part of Montreal`s Digital Spring events.

Classy Gents

 

So first off, how was rehearsal today?

LOGAN: It had it`s ups and downs, because it seems like every time we get to a place of achievement, we have another hurdle to jump. So it was a hurdle day, but that`s how we get the achievements.

JEREMY: You need the hurdles to figure out what to work on, what to tweak.

LOGAN: It was a day of lots of notes hahaha!

Is it the first time you two co-direct something?

JEREMY: Yep!

How does it feel, fusing your vision with someone else`s vision?

JEREMY: It`s actually been awesome!

LOGAN: Yeah it`s been good!

JEREMY: We have different directing styles, and it`s been interesting because we`ve adapted well to each other and were pretty much on the same page.

LOGAN: Yeah there hasn`t been any conflicts or butting heads. We took a long time to figure out what we wanted to do, what inspiration to start from and deciding what process we wanted for the project, so it wasn`t just like ‘let`s go direct! yay cool, grab a play!’ There was a lot of sitting down and sifting through what was inspiring and what wasn`t. It helped us get a very strong partnership. And our stage manager/dramaturge Gabriela Saltiel was a super person to help make that happen as well.

I understand you are basing this off another play, did you use it as a starting point and co-write a new direction to take it in, or are you re-adapting the play?

JEREMY: It`s definitely not an adaptation. We used the original text, which is Mother Courage and Her Children, by a playwrite called Bertolt Brecht, and we used that text as the skeleton, or scaffolding to create the show. I think what`s interesting is that the through-line of the original text ended up being more present than we originally anticipated, which is interesting. But it`s a devised piece, we created the entire script, all the actual text in the show we created during rehearsals.

During rehearsals?!

JEREMY: Yes, collaboratively, with the cast of 9 performers hahah!

LOGAN: We went in, knowing we wanted to use Mother Courage as a scaffold to discuss and explore contemporary issues, and during rehearsals make a melting pot of ideas and possibilities. We tested things, then started applying structures to the ideas until we ended up with a 40 page script and a whole show in 2 and a half months!

Wow that`s huge! How did the cast react to something so collaborative?

LOGAN: Well it was interesting because we grabbed people from so many different places and art mediums. We have actors, but also musicians and dancers, even people with circus experience. The ones who were used to creating a lot of different things, as in they live and breathe as an artist,  they responded really well because they don`t see themselves as just one thing. I wouldn`t say that the traditional actor is boxed into one thing, but they are used to say… ‘Here is the text, here is the director.’ They do what he says and they do it well, because they are used to that process. But we were telling them “Go, explore, create, nothing is stopping you”. We sometimes had to encourage people to get there, so we`d put pictures on the table, and say okay guys, these are the pictures for today, you have 5 minutes to write what they make you feel. Then they would present what they liked as an offer. We used that word a lot. Everything they presented to us as ideas, we`d call them offers. I think they responded well to that word.

JEREMY: Part of the process at the beginning was figuring out what the process actually is. Because we started off with the 9 cast member, and the 8 designers, at least conceptually, just as involved in the development. We told the designers they were just as welcome as the performers to contribute ideas. We even had our sound designer Joe in every rehearsal with us from the start. He really influenced the show as well. So we`d start off with all these ideas and then try and figure out how to work them out. It was really nice to see it progress into the process it became.

I`m not familiar with the play you used for the structure, so I`m curious to know if it had as much multi media involved, or if it touched on the effects of technology on human interaction as much as what your show seems to do?

JEREMY: The original text, no. It speaks more about war, specifically. So for us, the idea of disconnection with war sort of became the impetus for us towards disconnection not just from war, but through technology, social media. That`s what led us to those ideas.

LOGAN: The main character, Mother Courage, is a war profiteer. She sells things for the soldiers from the sidelines of war. So what was interesting to me is how her story, from being so disconnected from the war while making her bred and butter from it, is so close to our disconnection as Canadians with violence on our soil. We have our own Canadian conflicts, things that we face in this province and this country that are like…What The Fuck.

You mean like our general apathy?

*laughs all around!*

LOGAN: We never had to wake up in the morning and be like, I wonder if we`re going to get bombed today. I wonder if I`m going to step on a landmine. I wonder if I`m going to lose my brother today. Or my father, or mother. It`s a very interesting duality and we tried to infuse that in the sense that we have no clue. We just don`t know what that`s like. We don`t know about war. Lets look at our own issues as Canadians, and try and put it into perspective. See where that falls in terms of global conflict. It`s been really informative to see how people feel in a big group setting, and have not just one person but everyone contribute their feelings on it every day. To see it all filtered through 15 people is super interesting.

Did that feel at all like a sort of awakening? It just seemed like everyone in your group was coming to the realization of how knowledge of these events affects us as Canadians, and I wonder if there is some sort of message through that awakening, for whoever your audience happens to be?

JEREMY: We certainly don`t want to come across as like ‘This is this, and that is our message!’ It`s more like we`re offering questions, putting things under spotlight.

LOGAN: Right. We`re not answering any questions, we`re presenting more questions.

I feel like it`s going to present a lot of things that will make people reflect.

JEREMY: Exactly. It`s a space of contemplation, as opposed to shoving ‘War is bad!’ down everyone`s throats.

LOGAN: I think for us as well, as directors, there are things we definitely want to hit on, that we want to touch. The population in general, our performers included, sometimes don`t want to go there. They don`t want to go into that deep place and make a statement, flip the bird to someone, you know what I mean? They are still humans living in the world, with reputations in communities, so they`re not going to go necessarily into a place, saying “This is how I feel.” It`s all worked kind of beautifully because we`re just asking for contemplation, not harsh actions or statements.

That`s so true. There is a fine balance, when you consider what people are aware of projecting towards people who may or may not hire them, based on that. That`s a huge factor. Ok so let`s lighten this up a little hahah! Now that D-Day is fast approaching, any excitement or trepidations you guys might be feeling?

LOGAN: Oh I`m very excited.

JEREMY: Yeah! As a company we create theater and strive to be innovative. This won`t really be the typical thing you see in Montreal. We work a lot with images and movements, it`s all kinds of interdisciplinary. I`m very excited to see how people react to it, and what they think about it.

LOGAN: The most exciting part for me is that since 2011, we`ve tried to create something different. I feel like we`ve been getting closer and closer every time, but based on our training and our resources… well doing something like that takes money, it takes time and more experience. I think this is the first show where we actually achieve a feeling of ‘you`re not going to see anything else like this’. All our other shows have been leaning towards that, but they were still based off of pre-written scripts, things that had already been established. I think we`ve really succeeded in making something crazy and innovative that people are not going to forget, whether they love it or hate it. I hope you hate it. I hope you love it. I  don`t want you to just kind of like it.

JEREMY: Yeah hahaha no apathy! I think our success really had to do with the process, because for the first time we`re able to create a real Title 66 show from the ground up, unlike our previous shows.

The only one I had seen, which is when I discovered your company, was The History of the Devil for Fantasia 2013, which Jeremy directed. So Logan I`ve not seen your work yet, have you had any other experiences with the company that were this intensely involved?

LOGAN: Well… I founded the company.

Oh! Well. Is my face red.

LOGAN: Hahah! Well, to give you a bit of history, I founded the company right when I got out of theater school. I got a bunch of people together and said “Let`s adapt this play.” We had a super modest budget, it was very simple. We rehearsed in our college hallway, or at peoples houses or basements. We scavenged costumes and picked our set out of the garbage.

JEREMY: Literally.

LOGAN: And we made money. A bunch of kids right out of theater school, and we managed to get enough butts in the seat to make a little money.

JEREMY: I think it was like 2 months after we had graduated yeah.

LOGAN: For Nuclear Sky, I have to say, we auditioned for people with no idea of what was going to come of it.

JEREMY: It`s the first time we`ve held auditions. In the past, we`d always worked with kind of the same team. So we wanted to expand our horizons and see what else we could find out there.

So is this cast entirely new to the company?

JEREMY: Almost.

LOGAN: We have 3 performers who have worked with us before. Arielle, Béata and Patrick. So 6 out of 9 are completely new, and that`s not mentioning the production crew.

Alright, are there any closing words or thoughts you`d like to put out there?

JEREMY: The show is really speaking in the way of the young adult, or to young adults, who live in this world of social media and technology. How we interact with the world and what that does to us, or doesn`t. We`re definitely looking to reach out to everybody though.

LOGAN: I don`t subscribe to social media. I guess that kind of makes me radical in that sense. Embrace technology, love it, but use it, don`t just like… the word I want to use here is ‘Slacktivism‘. Like, posting on Facebook ‘OMG once all the bees are dead, we`re all dead. Climate change, lets do something about it!’ And they just walk away as if just saying that made a difference.

JEREMY: It`s like a false sense of accomplishment.

LOGAN: Right. Posting a fucking photo on your instagram doesn`t do shit for our world. It`s perpetuating mediocrity, and I think people need to use it for the powerful tool that it is. You have to use it properly, or else we`re just left with Slacktivists.

JEREMY: We`re using a lot of different technology in the show, to spread the ideas. Like projections and video, and projection mapping, digital text. We have transducers in pools of water, hooked up to microphones, so that voices are moving the water with vibration.

LOGAN: We have water on stage! It`s always been my dream to have water on stage!  But yeah all that being said, come to the show, and bring an open mind. Be ready to reflect.

JEREMY: Sit back and think.

 

A big thanks to Jeremy and Logan for their time and insight, I`ll be attending the premiere this Wednesday and posting a review so stay tuned!

Nuclear Sky: The Experiment

Presented at the Théatre Rouge Du Conservatoire

Show times are June 3-4-5-6 at 8pm, and June 7th at 2pm.

Click here to buy tickets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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