Victoria Fringe Festival 2016 Preview – Art of Eight Limbs
August 25, 2016
Playwright Kat Taddei took the Victoria Fringe by storm last year with her Pick of the Fringe winning drama Two. Meanwhile, director Chase Hiebert has been building a healthy cult following with daring projects at Intrepid and UVic. Now these two creative powerhouses team up for The Art of Eight Limbs, a piece which offers three simple guidelines. Don’t. Get. Comfortable. Fine words from Chase and Kat, who were eager to share their thoughts with Showbill.ca’s Matt McLaren on their latest theatrical alchemy.
Matt McLaren: Two walked away with one of one of last year’s Pick of the Fringe and with the creative team behind Art of Eight Limbs, chances look good for a repeat success. Let’s give the minds behind the madness their day in the limelight shall we?
Kat Taddei: Whoo!
MM: There’s been a big emphasis in your promotion towards the fact this piece addresses questions of gender identity, while taking a look at a very rich and underexplored emotional terrain for actors and audiences. That sounds promising, if a little vague. Could you unpack that for us?
KT: You know, I don’t think we can. I believe it’s the work of the production to encourage that conscious and unconscious unpacking, and not to do that work for audiences. We don’t have a tidy, specific message we are trying to hit home about gender, that would feel forced. Maybe it would be more apt to say the piece poses questions of gender identity through the nature of the characters and their stories.
Gender really isn’t the play’s central concern, at least as far as I’m concerned; although it is definitely a theme that crops up in a lot of my writing in some way or another.
Chase Hiebert: Not really. But I think it’s the way that the play deals with gender that makes it rich for exploration. The fact that there are two characters written gender neutral and one male character – who happens to be played by a woman in this production – I think set the actors up to examine aspects of themselves they might not usually consider when approaching a role.
MM: Art of Eight Limbs originally has its premiere earlier this year in Adelaide. Kat, that’s got to be surreal to have your work come to life beyond your sight. Anything crossover from that production?
KT: It was pretty surreal, in a really really wonderful way. Honestly, other than the text – which has even gone through some revisions and cuts since the Adelaide premiere – I don’t think much has crossed over. Blair and Chase have very different directorial styles. The venue makes a pretty huge difference, too. We have the Roxy as our Victoria Fringe venue, which has inspired Chase to incorporate a lot of movement into his interpretation of the script.
So what’s the game plan for Vino Buono post-fringe? There’s plenty of people involved here that have been pegged to do interesting things – but how long will Victoria be the base?
KT: Who knows? I’m pro-collaboration between all the amateur theatre companies that have emerged in Victoria over the past few years, although Vino Buono itself will probably come with me to whatever my next home base happens to be.
While I’m here, though, we are producing a 10 minute play through Theatre SKAM’s PopUp Live series – which opened this past Saturday down in Bastion square – as well as a YOU Show through Intrepid, which plays October 9th. I’m going to be directing the YOU Show under the mentorship of Colette Habel, which is super exciting. It’s a punchy, surrealist satire from one of my UVic playwriting pals, Dominik Buconjic. Kind of like a mix between Friends and Twin Peaks. So keep your eyes peeled for that.
MM: Chase, without spoiling too much, can you speak to your process for this one? I’m also interested in what, as a director, draws you towards a project to begin with?
CH: Really, what draws me to any project is confusion. When I read a script and come away confused, not by the plot or anything like that, but when I’m confused as to how to make it into a reality onstage that’s when I know I want to do it. And it’s important to me that I work on projects with a level of social awareness and social conscience, which Eight Limbs definitely has. I think those are the two things that drew me to this one, anyways, but it’s different with every show I do.
MM: Why should audiences see Art of Eight Limbs?
KT: I’m going to quote Chase on this one, “it’s a really good story.” Three characters, three interwoven narratives, three amazing performances. Check it out.