by Richard Wolfe
Richard Wolfe is a specialist in contemporary theatre and performance. Plays he’s directed include Terminus by Mark O’Rowe, Bashir Lazhar by Évelyne de la Chenelière, after the quake by Haruki Murakami (with Craig Hall), Stupidity (La Estupidez) by Rafael Spregelburd, Blue / Orange by Joe Penhall and Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno. He’s also dramaturged or directed many new Canadian plays including Omniscience by Tim Carlson – as well as scripts that have been translated from French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin and Russian. Mr. Wolfe has received four Jessie nominations for Outstanding Director and one for Significant Artistic Achievement, while the shows he’s directed have received over 40 nominations for excellence in Vancouver professional theatre. He’s been the artistic director of Pi Theatre for the past five years.
We’re about 96 hours from opening.Jason lives in Toronto, but will be flying in for the show. It’s late Friday night as I write this. We’re about 96 hours from opening. 96 hours sounds like a lot of time, but it’s only four and a half days – two more runs in the rehearsal hall and one tech-dress in the theatre. Flo Barrett, our costume designer, suited up the cast of nine for a costume parade two days ago and is now doing final fixes. She’ll be bringing the costumes into the rehearsal for our last run on Saturday. Sunday I finish work on audio with our sound designer Jordan Watkins. We’ve taken a cue from the African themes in the show. One of our favourites is a section from a Mozambique children’s choir. The carpenters and painters have finished building the set, a minimalist office designed by Jergus Orpsal, a long- time colleague who’s also designing lights. It’s sitting in the shop waiting to be delivered.
Sunday morning is the load in. I’ll be stopping by the theatre on Sunday night. We have a very small amount of time to integrate the design elements into a seamless whole. This production is a presentation by the Cultch and we’re working under a kind of presentation model – we have no official preview for example. None-the-less, presenting a new play is a brave undertaking. The financial risk falls on the presenter – thanks to the Cultch for taking the risk.
There seems to be a buzz around town. People know Inside the Seed is about genetically modified foods and they’re interested. Just two days ago, municipal politicians rejected genetically engineered food by a narrow margin at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.
Jason is a contemporary Canadian playwright writing a play inspired by Sophocles’ 2000-year-old classic Oedipus the King. His goal with Inside the Seed “was to write a new story rooted in the power of the old, but enough of an entity unto itself that it would speak directly to an audience of our era and culture.”
Great classical plays capture the essence of human experience and show us how little we’ve changed over millennia. Contemporary plays can do the same, but from a point of departure rooted in the present. I like art that reflects the zeitgeist. Relevancy is essential. The essence of certain questions may not have changed in 2000 years, but the filters are new. We look for meaning against the backdrop of our times.