Immersive Production Gathers Intimate Audiences Below Ground in Russian Hall Basement
to Explore Challenging, Complex Story of a Damaged Military Homecoming
ITSAZOO presents the Western Canadian Premiere of David James Brock’s award-winning drama, WET, May 8-27, 2018 in the basement of The Russian Hall. Chelsea Haberlin directs this thought-provoking tale of love, abandonment, and the human cost of war. Following the story of a Canadian soldier who returns to her husband and young daughter after a tour in Afghanistan, WET delves into the mental and emotional repercussions of combat on those who serve; and examines the spill over effects on those they love. Audiences will grapple with important and timely questions in an immersive and intimate setting, thereby amping up the work’s already unflinching intensity.
“In January 2017, Canadians were horrified by the story of Lionel Desmond; a veteran who killed his wife, daughter, mother, and then himself, after coming home from Afghanistan. A month later, we learned of Tricia Beauchamp, who served six overseas deployments, but couldn’t receive severance or pension and was evicted from her home after sickness forced her to leave the military,” says Chelsea Haberlin, Co-Artistic Producer and Director of the upcoming work. “For the first time since the earliest days of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, the collateral damage wrought on military personnel’s mental and physical health was back at the forefront of our national consciousness. Brock’s exploration of these brutally-relevant issues is pure ITSAZOO material: It’s unflinching, unapologetic, and devastatingly human in-yer-face theatre.”
The production is set during the height of Canada’s involvement in the Afghanistan War. Burns, a soldier, mother, and wife returns home from active duty in an injured and near catatonic state. Her husband Michael thinks he can fix her, if he can only unravel the mystery of what happened to her overseas. The situation is first complicated and soon thrown into dangerous chaos by the unannounced arrival of a former war comrade, Captain Tom Fitzgerald. Eventually, the basement suite becomes a prison, trapping them in close physical confines as the emotional distance between them grows.
ITSAZOO’s production, starring Genevieve Fleming (Burns), Matthew MacDonald-Bain (Michael), and Praneet Akilla (Tom), will take place in the basement of the Russian Hall, bringing an inescapable intimacy to the work. Each night, an audience of no more than 28 will find themselves confronting the uncompromising story as it unfolds in near-claustrophobic conditions mere inches from their faces. The journey begins in a hot recreational military tent in Afghanistan before the audience ventures to Burns’ home – and ultimately finds themselves in a small-town Chilliwack subterranean living room.
The immersive experience has been crafted by a talented creative team including Jennifer Stewart (Set/Props Design); Conor Moore (Lighting/Projection Design); Mishelle Cuttler (Sound Design); Chantal Short (Costume Design); Melissa McCowell (Stage Manager); and Cheyenne Mabberley (SFX).
David James Brock is a playwright, poet, and librettist whose plays and operas have been performed in cities across Canada, the US, and the UK. In 2010, Brock’s premiere of WET was met with critical acclaim and led him to win the 2011 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Award. He has created text for opera and new music with companies that include Scottish Opera, Noise Opera, Tapestry New Opera, the Canadian Art Song Project, FAWN Chamber Creative, and the Paul Dresher Ensemble. Brock lives in Toronto and has taught writing courses at the University of Guelph, University of Victoria, Humber College, and Young People’s Theatre.
Tickets and further information at: www.itsazoo.org.
WARNING: Contains Nudity, Sexuality, Coarse Language, Violence, Mature Subject Matter. Not recommended for audiences under 18 years of age. Some audience members may find the intimate and immersive setting claustrophobic.
Please contact [email protected]
About ITSAZOO Productions (itsazoo.org)
ITSAZOO Productions creates dynamic theatre events for daring audiences – whether it’s a fly-on-the-wall immersive experience, or a participatory, site specific event. The company formed in 2004 and is operated today by Co-Artistic Producers: Sebastien Archibald, also Playwright-in-Residence, and Chelsea Haberlin, recipient of a Jessie Richardson Award in Directing and The Ray Michal Award for Outstanding Body of Work by an Emerging Director. Through four core values – immersion, risk, fun, and community – ITSAZOO creates absorbing, all-encompassing worlds for audiences to experience.
ITSAZOO’s major productions to-date include The Pipeline Project, Hidden, The Competition is Fierce (nominated for seven Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards), Killer Joe (recipient of the 2014 Jessie Award for Outstanding Production, Small Theatre), Mojo, Debts at the West End’s Roedde House Museum, Robin Hood in Queen Elizabeth Park, and the popular Bridge Mix series.