DaPoPo’s Live-In travels across artistic lines

In year nine, the company aims to blur the boundaries between disciplines, but holds onto its presentation of plays in all stages of progress.

click to enlarge Actors ready themselves for one of many staged readings at last year’s Live-In. - SUBMITTED
Actors ready themselves for one of many staged readings at last year’s Live-In.

DaPoPo Theatre's Live-In
To Oct 31
Full schedule at facebook.com/DaPoPoTheatre

With its net cast wider than ever, DaPoPo Theatre's Live-In Festival is nine years old and going strong. "In contrast to previous years, we have curated a little less but opened the doors wider," says Garry Williams, DaPoPo's artistic director.

This year's festival theme is "Crossing the Lines," which sees programming that blurs the boundaries between many disciplines and art practices.

A main staple of the Live-In since its inception has been its play reading series. Each year, a handful of writers—mostly local, but some venturing from across Canada—are given the opportunity to have their play read by actors in front of an audience. The plays can be anywhere in their stage in development, from first drafts to plays which have been produced and performed in other cities.

"The script series for me partly spoke to my own desire to hear more plays and listen to more actors bringing their intelligence to a playwright's words," says Williams. "I also value fostering a community that is used to listening to theatre and not just seeing it as a spectacle."

Laura Burke is one of this year's playwrights, presenting a new work on October 15 at The Living Room. Tight Rope, which is in its early stages of development, is about a woman named Harriet who is learning to straddle the line between her professional life and her personal history. "It was partly inspired by a friend who did research on clinicians with lived experiences of mental health histories and looking at that dynamic," says Burke. "It is really a meditation on where the line is between accountability and professionalism, vulnerability and humanness. And it's about permission to be flawed."

Another featured play is Mark Foster's Rut, an exploration of the ways in which couples communicate. The piece "is a very contemporary view on relationships," says Foster. "It's a funny play at times but I think that it also recognizes that falling in love is more often than not something that comes with just as much work as reward." He adds: "It's a fun play, short and snappy."

Having also had a play read during last year's festival, Foster says the reading series was pivotal in his show's development. "The Live-In script series has open question periods at the end of them," he says, "and the advice I got from the audience for my script at last year's festival was invaluable."

The festival spans the month of October with dozens of events across the city, primarily at Theatre Nova Scotia's Living Room. "We've departed from a lot of our traditions this year," says Williams. "We instead have invited new people into the fold and are riding on that energy in the hope that there is rejuvenation and a turnover, and life in the Live-In."

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