A costume piece, a prop, a quote and a sound bite

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By Managing Editor Molly Barrieau

This year for the first time, Malaspina Theatre inspired competitors to put their creative minds together for one short weekend to put on a live show by Sunday. The rules were simple: each group was given a box containing a random assortment of items, anything from a mink stole to a broken recorder. A quote was provided, which was to be incorporated into the final script. Each group would only be allowed 15 minutes on stage. On Friday night, the five groups each revealed their “inspirational package,” according to Leon Potter. From then till Sunday afternoon, it was up to each group on how to write their live act.

My team consisted of three VIU Theatre diploma alumni, a CREW alumna, and myself. I won’t beat around the bush, my team and I are theatre veterans, and already live together, so it made for a very productive Saturday. Included in our package was a felt fedora, the broken recorder, “Always do what you’re afraid to do”, and a sound bite that sounded like someone slipping on a banana.

We met up that night, with beer and notebooks. Ideas were tossed around and some stuck, leading to a general plot line which included three more recorders, a Greek style quest, and a comically huge tree costume.  We then spent all of Saturday workshopping. My teammate Jonathan wrote the meat of the play, while we edited along the way, in between pizza and Mario Kart.

We had no idea what the other teams might come up with, including Portal magazine’s team who got the mink stole, or the group that adopted our Sports Editor Cole Schisler.

We arrived with costumes, a partially memorized script, a tech plan, and a lot of giggles. I was cast as Douglas Fir, the uprooted tree who narrates between trials. The inspiration for my character came when I offered to narrate, knowing I could read off the paper. However, a team member asked if we could use the narration from Soul Caliber. Turns out, we had to directly include the quotes, therefore I was left without lines—my only task was to waddle to center stage, and be the tree.

We went on last, and the plays we followed varied greatly. Christmas by Cole Schisler’s team inspired and delighted with the festive colours and theme, Michael Calvert, Portal magazine’s instructor, and his team, created a piece around a grenade and geriatric grudges turned friendships, I missed the last few, in my dressing room trying not to squirm in my six-foot foam tree (thank you Shelley for providing the look), but they were hits in the audience.

Lights came up on myself and my teammate Sophie on stage, and the big back recorder was in my hand, the fateful prize awarded to the winner, after they find golden apples, serenade the audience and fight lions and bulls.

I’m really proud of my team. Not only did we work so closely to see this through, but we didn’t care that our play was a farce, set up around phallic recorders and the jokes that came with them. Making a crowd laugh is invigorating.

So, if you’re an aspiring writer, actor, or tree, keep your eye out for opportunities to hone your skills as I did, grab some pizza, and enjoy the process. Stay tuned for Malaspina Theatre’s spring production The Picture of Dorian Gray in March 2017.


Molly is a creative writing major with a modern languages minor, has a love for editing, publishing and linguistics. She is in her fifth and final year at VIU. She hopes to land a job in Montreal and open a poutine truck with her partner when she retires.