The Drive to Adapt

One of the unique aspects of Rumble’s commissioning program is that we are focused on the creation of new Canadian plays based on existing classic texts; in other words, adaptations. Our AD Stephen Drover explains why adaptations are not only enlightening but necessary.

adaptation-clipart-k8655220The medium of theatre is time and good theatre uses time successfully. As a temporal, ephemeral art, theatre is always on the move and tends not to sit still for too long. So, to truly appreciate and understand where we are and where we are going, we have to throw the occasional glance in the rear-view mirror, to see where we came from and what we can learn from history.

I used to direct a lot of classical texts. I firmly believed (and still do) that there is great power in exploring the voices of yesterday; that to work with classical theatre is to stand on the shoulders of giants and see further than you normally could. I’ve also worked with my share of contemporary plays and I know that theatre needs to reflect how we think, behave and treat each other today; that it – by definition – lives in the here and now.

The dream, then, is to find a marriage of two traditions: to speak timeless narratives with contemporary voices. Perhaps adaptation is the answer. To generate new adaptations of classical texts is to foster a special creative partnership between yesterday’s and today’s playwrights; to put them together in the same room, so to speak, and ask them: “Have we really changed that much?” At Rumble, we believe that this remarkable partnership means listening to timeless echoes, looking at the dreams, fears and hopes of today, and finding a common ground with the stories that have been passed down to us.

So we harness the enduring narratives that we hold in our collective memories, reshape them for contemporary sensibilities, and craft new plays with today’s playwrights.

Adaptations allow us to listen to old voices while clearly speaking with our own. They look back and move forward at the same time.

Rumble’s next production, Indian Arm by Hiro Kanagawa, is a contemporary, Vancouver-based adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 19th-century play Little Eyolf. To find out more about the show or to buy tickets, click here.

The Living Room with Dawn Petten

Living Room Feb 16-13Last night we were thrilled to have Dawn Petten as our guest for The Living Room. Dawn told us about her journey from emerging artist to professional actor, her approach to her work, and her life outside theatre. We discussed everything from how to stay engaged through a long run, to gossip and professionalism.

As always, we also ate snacks and drank cheap beer. Thanks to everyone who came out! Keep your eyes open for the next Living Room, coming this April.

HLiving Room Feb 16-9ave something you’d like to to discuss at an upcoming event? An artist you’d really love to hear from? Email and let us know!

The Commissioning Process

In the fall of 2012, Rumble Theatre rebooted its commissioning program with the intention of adapting established scripts to create new and contemporary Canadian plays. The first commissioned script, Indian Arm by Hiro Kanagawa, will have its world premiere this April at Studio 16 in Vancouver.

Are you curious as to how an existing script gets adapted to create a new script then gets produced on stage? Artistic Director Stephen Drover provides some insight into how it all works.

Rumble’s commissioning process starts with the selection of the source material. We consider classical texts from the world repertoire that we believe would be exciting and relevant if reimagined through a contemporary lens and a fresh perspective. This approach goes beyond staging a classical text with a modern vision (setting Hamlet in the offices of a multi-national corporation, for instance, or placing a steampunk spin on Oedipus Rex). Rather, it’s a new construction built from the ground up; the source material provides the core narrative and inspiration for a new play.

After the source play is selected, we approach a Canadian playwright—someone whose work we admire and whom we believe would “fit” with the project. We want to work with a playwright whose style and sensibility will illuminate the source narrative and who is keen to enter into a special exercise, one where the original yet absent playwright—be it Strindberg, Aeschylus or Ibsen—remains a partner in the playwriting process.

Over three years, a new play is commissioned, developed, and produced. The process involves the generation of multiple drafts of the script, workshops and staged reading with actors, and lots of planning. In the year the script is produced, we already have another commission underway, allowing us to premiere a new Canadian play every two years.

Commissioning and producing new Canadian adaptations of established plays allows us to generate new text-based work, to contribute in a special way to a canon of Canadian plays, and to work with exciting playwrights. Focusing on adaptations means tapping our collective memories and harnessing the stories of our forebears to reboot old stories—stories that still hold the potential to show us who we were and still are.

February 16: The Living Room returns

Mark your calendars, emerging artists! Rumble’s next Living Room will take place on Monday, February 16. This time, we’ll be hosting our own edition of Inside the Actors Studio featuring special guest Dawn Petten.

Dawn PettenSince graduating from UBC’s BFA Acting program, Dawn has acted in over 50 productions, all over Western Canada and beyond, performing with Bard on the Beach, Touchstone Theatre, the Playhouse, Caravan Farm Theatre, Theatre Calgary, MTC, and Canadian Stage among others, and she is a multiple Jessie award nominee and winner. Her favourite productions include: Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (directed by Kim Collier); It’s All True and Unity, 1918 (Touchstone); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Caravan Farm Theatre); Tear the Curtain! and Studies in Motion (Electric Company). She most recently appeared on stage for Rumble in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Tremors 2012/Pound of Flesh Theatre). She co-founded Osimous Theatre, and has acted in and co-produced Osimous’ three wildly successful shows. She also co-directed their 2014 production of Our Town. Most recently Dawn acted in Aprés Moi (Ruby Slippers) and Cinderella: An East Van Panto (Theatre Replacement). She will appear at Bard on the Beach this year, playing a Dromio in A Comedy of Errors and Jacquenetta in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Come hang out with Dawn, the Rumblers, and your fellow emerging artists for a fun evening of conversation and community building. And, as always, we’ll have plenty of snacks and cheap beer on-hand.

When: Monday, February 16 at 7pm
Where: Progress Lab, 1422 William Street

Click here to see the Facebook event.

The Living Room is a mixer-slash-mingler-slash-meeting for young artists to engage with one another on topics that are important to them and to connect, network and share news in a casual and fun environment.