Interview with Vision Theatre

by Ottawa Fringe

June 24, 2008

One-Acts by David IvesSitting around the table with five of the six players of Vision Theatre’s “4Play: One-Acts by David Ives,” there’s that feeling of infectious excitement. It’s the eve of opening night, and in two hours the cast will be presenting their first performance of there show, as the title suggests, a collection of one-act plays written by playwright David Ives. Vision took away the Best Comedy award from the 2007 Ottawa Fringe Festival for their previous one-act collection, “Crazy Eights,” with plays written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Interviewd were Marsha Awwad (MA), Chantale Plante (CP), Jennifer Scrivens (JS), Sam Awwad (SA), and Riley Stewart (RS). Not present was Shaun Toohey, who was still on the road back from Montreal…

SA We were looking to do something similar to what we did last year, last year we did David Lindsay-Abaire, three one-acts by him, which fit within the hour. We went with a different playwright, David Ives, who has quite a few good, fun plays that we felt would entertain audiences again.

How do you sell the show?
SA “Do you want to enjoy foreplay with Vision Theatre?”
CP It’s pretty easy to sell, the shows last year did so well. Vision won best comedy. I wasn’t in them, but I wished I had been – they were so funny to watch. The formula works, so why break the formula? So it’s basically, “It’s back again, last year they did three, this year we’re doing four – more fun – come and see it.”
MA And there’s something for everyone, right? Four twelve-minute shows, there’s something for everyone in there.
CP Most of the shows bend time in some way, they bend reality.
MA The last show is a send-up to David Mamet; it’s basically a boiled-down version of four of his shows. It takes place in a ‘roast’ atmosphere, with an MC, and the rest of the characters onstage do four of his shows in seven minutes. And it makes fun of him, alot.
JS And the audience members don’t have to be familiar with David Mamet to get it, it’s pared down so well and keeps the humour really strong that everybody is going to enjoy it whether or not they know his work.

Who’s in which scenes with who?
One-Acts by David IvesJS Shaun and I start off the show, with Sam and Marsha joining us in ‘English Made Simple.’ Shaun and I just discovered this week once we’ve put the shows together, he and I never actually leave the stage. Other people come in; in the second show, ‘Philedelphia,’ Sam, Marsha and Shaun are the main players, and Chantale and I just sit around looking pretty. We’re in ‘The Chicken.’
SA It’ll make sense when they see the show.
JS In ‘Sure Thing’ Riley and Chantale are the two featured players, and Shaun and I are sitting as spies. And then the last piece is an ensemble piece we all come together. The entire night definitely has the atmosphere of just having fun, and playing with each other. We have become a strong group of people outside of rehearsals, and the fun that we have outside definitely is reflected in what we wind up putting onstage. Because if it looks like it’s a chore, then what’s the point.

How was the feeling during the development of this production?
RS We just have a really good chemistry; the whole bottom line is we just wanted to get together and try to have fun, and just forget about the formality of theatre, and all the seriousness that we have to deal with throughout the year. It’s the fringe, right? It’s time to have fun, to be with friends, and just have a good time and spread your wings a bit.
CP There’s always a moment in rehearsals where we just start giggling.
RS Sam is a champion paper airplane maker during high school. While we were rehearsing he was demonstrating his skill by making about eighteen different models, lining them up and then throwing them at us.
SA They didn’t need too much attention from me. Working with good actors, they got their thing going. Even at the end of the day, working nine to five and then going to rehearsal, these guys keep the energy up. I’m not as professional as that, so I have to keep my energy up somehow.
JS He’s really just testing us to see how well we can stay focused when cell phones go off or candy wrappers happen in the audience.
SA I giggle quite a bit. I get set off quite a bit, so we can’t have anything that will set me off onstage or I’ll be laughing.
JS When you get the six of us together to rehearse, you can’t not have funny moments.
RS Marsha did wear farting shoes to dress rehearsal yesterday. Shoes that made very convincing farting noises.
MA You know, when you have high-top Chuck Taylors, at the end of the day and your feet are sweating, so they move around in the Chucks. And it’s my first freaking entrance, and I have to go from backstage all the way downstage diagonally, and everytime it’s like *fart, fart, fart, fart, fart*. And this was supposed to be our one run before opening.

What do you want the audience to take away from your show?
RS A smile.
MA Come out happy, having had a good night at the theatre. What’s better than that?

4Play: One Acts by David Ives plays at the Arts Court theatre until June 29.

Previous interviews:
Interview with Weeping Spoon productions (Greed)
Interview with Brigette DePape (She Rules With Iron Stix)
Amy Salloway (Circumference)
The Absinthe Collective (A Leave of Absinthe)
Peter Hayes (The Tricky Part) and Greg Landucci (Mr. Fox)
Penny Ashton (MC Hot Pink / Busty Rhymes)
Keir Cutler (Teaching the Fringe)
Celeste Sansregret (Wonderbar!)
Jem Rolls (How I learned to stop worrying and love the mall)