The effects of the financial meltdown in 2008 have been wide-ranging and long-lasting. “This is a subject matter that is real and happening right now. People have lost their homes and jobs, and we’ll see a ripple effect into the 2020s,” says Christopher Brauer, Associate Professor in the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film department.
The Power of Yes, an ensemble piece written by English playwright David Hare and based on interviews with major players in the 2008 credit crisis, is being directed by Brauer and will be presented February 11-14 by his third year honours theatre class.
The topic has created an educational experience for students beyond learning the nuts and bolts of professional theatrical production.
“When I first saw the script I was like ‘why Christopher, why?’,” says Satara Subedar with a laugh. “But it’s been really exciting to see the story come off the page and learn about things that I never did look into.”
Between research, classes and late night rehearsals, the dedication that students like Subedar are required to bring to the production is a realistic look into the life of a professional theatre actor.
“There’s a degree of rigor involved in the class,” Brauer says. “About 30 students audition for honours and 12 get in. The auditions are a two day process… we’re looking at freedom of movement, freedom of imagination, can they take direction.
“I always say it’s mainly a willingness to commit to weird stuff.”
It is a steep commitment on many levels, but Subedar stays grounded with help from friends and family. “We’re a really lucky group,” she says, “and everyone has a lot of support.”
In addition to actors, students who excel behind the scenes are heavily involved in the process. Dozens of design and production students have worked to create a unique set.
“The space is a black box theatre that we’ve converted to make a theatre in the round,” Brauer explains. “Our designer [Joseph Abetria] worked with the image of an exploding bubble… it’s visually something completely different.”
Although topical, some potential audience members may be hesitant about the subject matter, doubting how entertaining a play about the economy can be. Working to bring humanity to the text has been a challenge, but Subedar is confident they will pull off.
“I think it’s really funny!” she proclaims.
Brauer, who chose the piece with the honours class in mind, weighs in on the subject. “This is what theatre is meant to do – to shed a light on a subject matter. The idea that only escapist theatre is interesting… I find that to be a really odd response. Let’s engage in the world we live in.”
Regardless, he promises you will not be bored if you choose to attend. “There’s a surprising amount of rock and roll involved. It’s really going to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.”