Monday, December 11, 2017

Bed and Breakfast director utilizes vocal mask theatre for summer comedy

August 16, 2017 by Adam Marsh, student editor 

When it comes to finding a community, some understanding, and a good clean laugh, Bed and Breakfast—a play that centres around two gay men who open a bed and breakfast—won’t disappoint, says director Ashlie Corcoran. Corcoran has been involved in the play since its early stages, working closely with writer and actor Mark Crawford, whose partner, Paul Dunn, is also an actor in Bed and Breakfast.

“I really love the form of it,” says Corcoran about the play. “Our two actors play the two main roles, but they also play a dozen other characters. It’s a form of theatre called ‘vocal mask,’ quite an athletic form where they are switching back and forth between characters, where they are changing their voice and also their physicality.”

Corcoran says that fast changes in character between two actors make for a challenging but rewarding directorial adventure.

“Because we’re playing all of these different parts, and switching back and forth between so many different locations, the physical work of the actors needs to be really specific,” she says.

Bed and Breakfast centres around two gay men who open a bed and breakfast in a small tourist town (photo by Andrée Lanthier).

As far as directional style, Corcoran feeds off “the human desire and the need for connection” that the play conveys, and she is always cognizant of her colleagues’ creative ideas while making sure to keep an open mind.

“The way I think about myself as a director is to not put my interpretation over things, but to work with the writing and with the artists in the room to help tell that story to its best,” she says. “What I’m hoping to do with my directing style is to serve this play in the best way possible.”

Corcoran—who will become the artistic director of Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company in 2018—says she has been working on this play for a long time in the interest of getting things just right.

“I’ve been working with Mark and with Paul to really craft this play so that it is as precise and as emotional as possible. The form of staging needs to be very precise. We want it to be really clear to the audience by the second and the third time a character shows up that we know who that character is just by looking at those actors really quickly,” she says, before summing up the whole play in just a few words: “It’s a piece full of heart.”

Bed and Breakfast
Until Sunday, August 27
Various prices, The Belfry Theatre

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