Victoria Fringe Festival 2016 Preview – Wild/Society
August 22, 2016
Well to do penguins reject climate change while getting pissed. High society rabbits find themselves vexed by vagabond racoons. And this is just some of the wackiness in store for Victoria audiences, courtesy of emerging Vancouver based company star star theatre. Written and performed by Mika Laulainen and Melissa Oei . Mika recently sat down with Showbill.ca’s Matt McLaren to draw a road map through the hilarious antics in store this Fringe.
Matt McLaren: star star theatre has been around for not a few years now, but I’m ashamed to say that we’ve never looked closer at it’s mandate or profile. Would you humour us?
Mika Laulainen: star star theatre is committed to the creation, development, and presentation of relevant plays that explore human connection from an intimate to a global perspective. We strive to create a professional environment, paid opportunities for emerging artists, and truthful, innovative work inspiring action over inaction.
We’ve been making stuff since 2013 in Vancouver and Victoria, usually with a political or social bent, and often using ensemble work, devising, and puppetry to tell a physical story that pairs with the text.
MM: I actually ran across Wild/Society two years ago at Theatre SKAM’s Bike Ride. Looked fun but still in the rough planning stage. Want to tell the folks at home what it’s about and how it’s grown up a bit since then?
ML: Theatre SKAM is my favourite. They provide a platform for creation at SKAMpede (previously Bike Ride) that allows artists to develop work with a larger scope or the potential to grow into something larger. That festival encourages so much inventiveness from the artists who are privileged enough to participate in it. That’s my plug of the day.
In regards to our show, it’s true – the original spark for Wild/Society did originate at the Bike Ride Fest. I wanted to find a way to talk about relevant social issues – like global warming and the housing market crisis – without hitting people over the head with the content. Making the show absurdist and satirical allows people to see the situation from the outside, and casting animals encourages people to look beyond the stereotypes of the role – although we can all imagine someone like Rabbit, Raccoon, or the elitist penguins! The show has grown up funny, fast-paced, and I’m overjoyed at the responses we’ve gotten so far on our tour.
MM: Mika, you’re several years out of university now. What have you learned and where are you going with your role in the arts?
ML: I truly believe in creating the role that I’d like to inhabit. As a director, playwright, and performer, the majority of my current productions are self-produced creation work. I’ve studied both devised/ensemble based theatre and puppetry since graduating from UVic and love working in those mediums. Honestly, what can I encourage new grads to do, but to follow their passions and just get ‘er done. I find it a lot more satisfying than waiting to be offered roles that aren’t a perfect fit. You’re your perfect fit. Make it happen. And what next? I think next year’s fringe tour will have puppets and a rock climbing wall. We shall see.
MM: Wild/Society had its first stop at the Toronto Fringe, then on to Winnipeg Fringe, and Calgary Fringe. Manage to keep afloat?
ML: Toronto was an abrupt awakening for our first stop on our first Fringe Tour. It’s very big for the premiere of a brand new fringe production. We learned so much but it was definitely amazing to have Fringe vets supporting us along the way. Jeff Leard, the Snails, Peter Carlone, Tara Travis among others, all really helped us out as we were figuring out how to work the circuit and we owe so much to their help at the beginning. Since we’ve gotten in the groove, we’ve had a blast. Winnipeg rocked, and Calgary was a great time too, with good houses and warm reviews. We cannot wait for our two final stops: Victoria and Vancouver.
MM: Say I could add a new challenge to your show before it goes up in Victoria. What would it be?
ML: Do it blindfolded? On rollerblades? Drunk? The show is very wet so maybe we could set up a sprinkler for comic effect. I don’t think we will do any of these things, our directors Jamie King and Brian Cochrane did an awesome job and we’re happy with the way the show turned out.
MM: Why should audiences come and see Wild/Society?
ML: Wild/Society is a fresh and absolutely absurd take on a lot of hot button topics right now. It’s totally silly, solid and polished from a summer of constant performing, and created by a team of women. Girl power. We’re a great pick for your local theatre nerd, environmental activist, feminist, and those looking for the weird and wonderful. Come check it out.