Sometimes I live in a cultural wasteland. Not that things don’t happen here in the Shangrila of the West Coast. They do, despite the provincial government thinking that it’s good to support sports but bad to support the arts. But we all know that rant of mine.
One of the events that seems to have happened for the last two years, and this year being it’s third, is Hive 3, a performance extravaganza all under one roof. Set up at The Centre for Digital Media (and this year part of the cultural Olympiad) it was a bit of an Alice in Wonderland quest, with 14 performances in various little cordoned off spaces and rooms. The rooms might have sliding metal doors, a normal door on hinge, a sheet, or… This event took place from March 11-20.
Each piece was no longer than 15 minutes and ran from 7-10:00 pm each night. It was set up as a bit of a quest. To get into Theatre Conspiracy/Gasheart Theatre’s NAPathy, you just had to line up. To enter “At Home With Dick and Jane” by Electric Company, you put your name in a draw and five people were drawn each hour. For Boca Del Lupo’s “The Interview” you found the man with the clipboard and answered his questions, to be given a piece of a picture as your ticket in. “Skunked” by Felix Culpa had me searching out the woman with a basket of Teddy bears. And “Ana” by November Theatre meant you needed to be holding an LP to get in.
Other venues required a person getting a keychain or a special slip of paper, or a sticker. However finding these people was a bit hard and not having done this before we weren’t sure what the cryptic messages meant for both, such as “Sugar” which said you needed an apron. There wasn’t anyone wandering around with aprons; you just lined up and the first ten received an apron.
Feasibly, if you were organized and moved fast you could do 12 venues in three hours but many of the venues were small and limited and LPs, keychains or other ticket items disappeared very early on. We managed about four in two hours. With tickets at $25, it would mean coming back again to catch everything but you have to pay again. There was a band that started at 11 pm and people could come just to that for $5 but I went on a week night and had to work the next day.
However, I did love the whole quest aspect of it, or as one friend put it, it was like a Fringe Festival under one roof. And even if you didn’t like a piece, it was only fifteen minutes so you could go on to see something else. The shows I mentioned above were the ones I managed to see except for “At Home With Dick and Jane,” which my friend’s name was drawn for but not mine. NAPathy was very intense and well acted, if a bit on the bizarro side, but the more I think about it, the more I liked it. I’m still not sure if I got the nuances of what it was really about but lets say cupcakes feature largely with a strange love and devouring in a Canadian context.
“The Interview” was interesting but I felt it was a little flat and maybe suffered from the shortness of the performance. I couldn’t get into the dram of it but it was competently done and had some interesting out of the room filming techniques. “Skunked” was a kooky little piece that slowly evolved (or devolved) through the psychosis of a 12-year-old into an ad for psychological interventions, I think. It was okay but a bit of a aha joke at the end.
“Ana” involved taking the LP as a ticket and turning it in,then entering a room, with a round carpet and a very old record player in the middle, with one woman standing there. She then talked about records and their making and lifespan and memories tied to her parents and life. She moved around the circle, talking to each of us, having one person hold the album of her parents’ anniversary and then putting the song on, dancing with another participant. Of the four I saw, it had the strongest storyline and was the most moving in its simplicity.
All in all I thought the actors were pretty good to very good. The stories/pastiches to me didn’t seem to quite his their full potential. But I wonder if I’m not used to such a short performance. The show is pricey and next year I’ll get there as soon as it starts and try to organize my venues instead of milling about trying to figure out what to do next. I’d love to see more of this kind of thing though; a quest mixed with acting, and music and audience involvement.