Monday, March 4, 2013

The Question, March 4, 2013

its fierce beating heart
by Estelle Rosen

Steven McCarthy is an actor, musician and theatre-maker whose work in various disciplines has been seen across Canada and around the world, garnering numerous awards. He received a best actor Dora Nomination for his role in the critically acclaimed Norway.Today (Theatre Smash) and played Horatio in Necessary Angel’s controversial production of Hamlet, directed by internationally renowned director Graham McLaren. On the strength of his debut production, the site-specific Three Plays by Sam Shepard, performed in a dilapidated frat house ballroom, he was invited to be the sole student to attend a special one year version of the National Theatre School’s directing program. Steven is the founder of Candles are for Burning, a theatre and music production company devoted to exploring the ritualistic quality of live performance. His productions have included epic funk rock extravaganzas, trapeze dance theatre and back-alley takes on modern classics. The highly acclaimed feature film, Picture Day, in which Steven stars with his band the Elastocitizens, will be released this spring. This 11-piece funk rock band, for which Steven is the lead singer, manager, and co-songwriter, is a staple on the Toronto music scene. Wish. Believe. Burn. Make rock and roll like it's theatre and theatre like it's rock and roll. 

CHARPO: Bliss has a multicultural aspect to it. Was this planned or did it happen serendipitously?

McCarthy: When I first made the show and people asked me why I had used so many Francophone artists I told them that I was simply choosing the best folks for the job whether they be Francophone or Anglophone or otherwise. It simply didn't matter to me what accent someone had. I just wanted artists - actors, designers, technicians - who were the best for the project. But when I look back on the notes I was making prior to directing Bliss for the first time  at National Theatre School (NTS) in 2010, I think there was a deeper instinct underlying some of those choices that guided me in my choice of play and of collaborators.

As an acting student at NTS in the late 90s, I was struck by the incredible differences between the Francophone and Anglophone theatre traditions. And while admiring the emotional commitment and poetic expressiveness of the French students, I was mindful of their own admiration of the verisimilitude and simplicity of the English tradition. In looking over the early notes upon my return to NTS as a directing student, I am struck by how eager I was to make a test of what it would do to a process to make a show that combined the best of each tradition. When I found Bliss I knew that this was the play to work on. 

Here was a play that on first read seemed like a wild stylistic exercise. But I felt sure that its fierce beating heart was intensely human; and through working on it with this team, now on our fifth production of the show, we have come to see how simple and brave we need to be to allow this twisted fantasy to appear in the mind of the audience. 

Even more so than other plays, the actors are there simply to facilitate the experience of the audience. It is a brave and beautiful thing Olivier Choinière has written- it is a gift, a daring invitation to acknowledge the darkest and most disturbing parts of ourselves. It is a revenge play and a tragedy and therefore is an act of community. I couldn't be more proud that the writer himself has invited Bliss to  Théâtre Aux Écuries to be the first play they have presented in English in an 
attempt to break down a few of the walls separating us.

Bliss runs March 5 - 9. 

1 comment:

  1. I just saw this play tonight and if you didn't see it when it played at Wildside a few years ago, don't miss it again!


Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.