The show must go on(line)

The Village Conservatory class creates ‘unique’ and diverse digital theatre

The Village Conservatory incorporated the Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, the “venue” for its new virtual show, into the streamed performance.

Last year, the students of the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre (The ViC) performed shoulder-to-shoulder in a musical. But this year, masked up and distanced, they took their work online.

The ViC, a post-secondary arts education organization, is presenting a virtual show from March 25 to April 10 called Inhibition Exhibition, featuring 14 original and vulnerable pieces from their students “exploring their greatest fears and triumphs.” 

This year, The ViC “focused on students writing their own pieces and kind of figuring out their own artistic voices,” Daphne Finlayson, the director of photography and editor for Inhibition Exhibition, says.

The results of six months of rehearsal, development and guidance from top arts professionals are original songs, poems, dances and short plays that make up the program of Inhibition Exhibition, exploring themes like anxiety and heartache.

When creating and rehearsing during the COVID pandemic, The ViC team knew the performance would take an unexpected form.

“We had to rethink how we were going to present each piece, and that really meant giving all of us as theater performers a crash-course in how to produce 14 short films,” Finlayson says.

Pieces that make interesting use of the film format include Cracked by Angelica Reid, a spoken-word presentation using cinematic images, like dropping Skittles onto a shattered mirror and painting gold cracks on skin. In another piece, the camera acts as paparazzi, following the students around, Finlayson says.

When Inhibition Exhibition officially became destined for the screen in January, The ViC decided to do the show promenade style, meaning the performances were filmed around the venue, the historic Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, Finalyson says.

Kimmy Martin, a University of Winnipeg alum and multidisciplinary artist in her second year with the ViC program, wrote and performed in a piece called Untitled. The piece, inspired by a random dream about pool tubes, evolved into a children’s fable set in a world where children go to a dock and “fish for their fate.” Whichever fate they catch is their career path, she says.

“The idea behind it was that you don't have to just take one career for the rest of your life ... you can do as many things as you want to be and be happy,” Martin says.

It was “really special to be back in the space and creating with people,” Martin says about performing and rehearsing in Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, which brought her classmates together in a small, COVID-safe capacity. 

The space informed the pieces presented in Inhibition Exhibition. Martin is excited to see how others in her class use the space. While developing her piece, she decided to incorporate the giant, “gorgeous organ (that was) just part of the background.”

The show is a “reminder that we’re not stuck,” Finlayson says. “We’re not sitting on our hands, waiting for live theatre to come back.”

“Even with everything stacked against us ... we still have something to show for all of the months of hard work that have gone into this program,” she says.

“It's gonna be really unique. You get 14 different perspectives on multiple different topics,” Martin says. 

Find out more about The ViC at villageconservatory.com and buy tickets to Inhibition Exhibition at showtix4u.com. Video-on-demand-style tickets are available at $20 for a single ticket, $35 for a household and $15 for low-income folks or artists.

Published in Volume 75, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 24, 2021)

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