Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Feature: Director Sarah Garton Stanley on Beatrice & Virgil

Rascal the Cat, Identity and the Booker Winner: A Love Story
by Sarah Garton Stanley

For Factory: Down Dangerous Passes Road, Beaver, Slipknot, Restitution, and Associate Director 2000-04. Other Recent Credits: Helen Lawrence (ArtsClub/CanStage/Banff Centre/) mothermothermother (PushOFF) Upcoming: The Summit (IPAA/NAC/Banff/Luminato) mothermothermother (AGO) The Book of Judith (Whitby Abilities Centre) We Keep Coming Back (SelfConscious Theatre/Theatre Kana) Other: Associate Artistic Director for English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, The Collaborations (Several amazing companies and creations across Canada) Co-creator and Artistic Director of (Praxis/Neworld/NAC) Sarah and Michael Rubenfeld make work together with SelfConscious Theatre. Sarah Garton Stanley lives in Kingston, Ontario.

I have been thinking a lot about love. And how important it is as an ingredient for making work. It brings to mind my first cat, Rascal. My mother finally caved after a disastrous adventure with two pet mice went awry… when my next-door neighbour’s boa constrictor made short work of them. My mum had tried to curb my enthusiasm for a cat and, as a result, animals had died. Next stop the SPCA! As a 10 year-old kid this was the most exciting place in the whole wild world. A series of rooms, filled with a series of cages, filled with a series of barking and purring fluff-balls all waiting to be loved.  As we walked the endless aisles (or so it felt to me) of possibility, my eyes came to rest on the cutest cat I - or anyone else in the world - had ever, or would ever, see. She would become Rascal. But before that, as I turned to my mother in the SPCA with absolute love in my heart for this white spotted creature, I saw, my mum’s concern that I had chosen a misshapen creature; that my choice to place love at the feet of this slightly limping animal would cause all of us real harm. And you know what? My mother was right.

So, after hearing all of that, why in the world would you come to see it?

Rascal was the best cat in the world. But she was also identity-challenged. She thought she was a dog. She would fetch, sleep with you, and wake you up in time to go to school. And when two golden retrievers trapped her and ate her, I can only imagine that she was as surprised by this turn of events as I was heartbroken. I still have Rascal’s blue collar, and will have it for as long as I have possessions. She was my first misshapen and identity-challenged love, and she brought my entire cat-hating family to its knees with love for her.

I have fallen deeply in love with Beatrice & Virgil. Lindsay Cochrane and Iris Turcott have worked to vivisect a novel about taxidermy and fashion a strange and wonderful world of horror. With Damien Atkins in the role of the novelist and Pierre Brault as the taxidermist, this play comes to mysterious life just before it robs us of our capacity to enjoy it.

So, after hearing all of that, why in the world would you come to see it? Well… Yann Martel, one of our most celebrated living writers imagined it. So there’s that. And it is about a-one-big-something that affects every single person reading this post. No two ways about that. And finally, I hope you come see it because it is loved. Fully. I also hope you will think of Rascal before you come to meet Beatrice and Virgil. And finally I hope you will leave thinking about Beatrice & Virgil when the horrors get too large to hold.

April 12 - May 11

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