Theatre and Check Your Head
Firehall Arts Centre, Vancouver, BC
JOB LOSS: A GLOBAL ISSUE?
By June Heywood
Getting stamped with a bar code generates the first uneasy feeling for the
audience/participants as they enter the world of Corporate U.
Headlines Theatre and Check Your Head have teamed up under
the swift-thinking artistic and managing director David Diamond, to
create a local interactive play with global ramifications.
The theatre becomes fictitious Hamilton Hall. University students (the audience)
are staging a sit-in to protest against an institute of learning treating
them as bar-coded products and ripe for indoctrination.
The story within the story is of a greedy business owner who is hungry for
more than a 10% increase in his companys annual growth. He closes down
his firm in Richmond and moves the business to Thailand where labour is cheap
and management is brutal. He gets his Human Resources person to tell the
250 workers theyre fired. Eventually, so is she.
Begging on the street is a former employee, a single mother with a problem
child. The factory worker and manager sit and talk. Their former employer
sees them and hurries past. Nothing is resolved.
The action on stage pauses. Through audience participation, Diamond demonstrates,
by birthplace, the global nature of people in the audience.
Before the play begins again, Diamond asks those who have an idea of how
to solve a problem of a character who is hurting, to shout, Stop!
halting the action. The audience member is then to go on stage and engage
in the struggle of the character they replace.
This is the core of the play. Audience members become enmeshed and grapple
with the issues. The actors show their in-depth knowledge of the subject
matter and switch seamlessly from one scenario to the next.
Diamond poses questions to make the actors and the audience think more deeply
about the global issues. Those presented include Third World debt reduction;
trusting others; letting people thrive where they live and work; paying a
fair wage; enforcing labour laws; understanding one another and working together
to improve all lives. Diamond encourages us to share our insights and to
refrain from stereotyping other people.
As the electric-blue haired street person Emme Lee gives a magnificent,
deeply emotional performance. The other cast members - Valerie Laub, Kevin
Millsap, and Charlene Wee are also powerful players.
I have only one peeve. The giant screen on which logos, facts and figures
are displayed while the actors are performing distract me. These slides give
vital information. They would be used to greater effect if they had been
shown, in silence, between the first and second part of this dramatic piece.
On Saturday, December 16th, Corporate U goes global over the Internet.
The play is simultaneously broadcast on Shaw Cable, Ch.4 in Vancouver.