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Illuminating Thoughts: Kim Collier on The Full Light of Day

In 1996, Kim Collier joined a theatre collective with big ideas: The Electric Company Theatre, an organization that strives to create works that are relevant, challenging, and inspiring for audiences. Their latest project, The Full Light of Day, is a mighty technological feat that Kim believes will help expose the intimate humanity within the characters.

Feb 22, 2019 | BY: Kim Collier

Electric Company Theatre founding artist and award-winning director Kim Collier shares with us some illuminating thoughts about her creative process, multimedia theatre, and technology's role in contemporary society.

If you had to summarize the story of The Full Light of Day in 5 words, what would they be?   
KC: Seeking Goodness in a Privileged World.

Tell us about how the piece’s multimedia elements enhance the storytelling? 
KC:
The impulse this time to work with technology was to be able to bring a kind of story to the stage that without technical support would be hard to share with an audience. Written as a film script the piece moves through 52 locations and flows in a way that requires a different approach to the stage craft. Media allows us to honour the script as written and challenge ourselves to fulfill its story demands. At one minute we are on a downtown street, the next at the Opera, then we land into a high rise apartment and then our characters fall into bed. In addition the script demanded a kind of drama found in film: looks between characters, or revealing drama from depth of the struggle inside a characters soul. We have camera live feeds that will allow the audience to experience a kind of intimacy in the story telling that is very filmic. Story beats told with the way one character looks at another and what is held in their eyes…or to have scenes occur in places that are hard to see. So the cameras helps us get into places that otherwise would not be possible to show from the stage.

Kim Collier, director of The Full Light of Day facing the camera, in front of a grey background.

But the media is also here in this piece as a reflection of our modern urban centers. We are surrounded by image, media and use it to serve our desires and ambitions. So of course…the stage is a like us…part live…part mediated. It is part of the question of who we are now. It also widens the frame of the piece. Film units create a context for the story to land within and provide much needed reflection time inside the piece. The proliferation of buildings and their scale adds to the thematic examination of Rapid Urban Development.

People have a lot of opinions about Technology in the theatre. Many, I think, feel it is a brutal thing to interrupt the live potential of theatre with tools that dominate our lives elsewhere in the world: tv, film, screens, phones and computers. But of course there are no absolutes and no right ways to do anything in the theatre. The theatre is everything…it can be anything, and needs to be a place where all of what are and who we are is used to examine who and what we are. So we must have projects that struggle with and use technology. Not every time, but sometimes. Just like we need theatre that has nothing more then the simple human in a shaft of light standing before you.

I think audiences are hungry for art and expression that is recognizable to the world around you, that feels current, and that is working on the frontier of how we tell stories today. Technology has to be part of our theatre ecology especially as we communicate across generations. I would be the first person also to say, lets not have technology in the theatre…we need so desperately to feel who we were before all this screen time started...to be together in a living presence. Rare, real and alive. Perhaps it is my cautious respect for technology and what it adds…but also what it takes away that makes me a good director / creator to be working with media. Ultimately a production with or without media must feel live and undeniable and to connect us more in this world.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced when creating this production? 
KC:
The piece is highly technical. It demands time to integrate all the pieces into a cohesive and beautiful communication. There is never enough time to do this work in the theatre. This I find hard. For the directors, joy is in this final detailed layer of the work; subtle dynamics, rhythm, levels, spacing, story emphasis, depth of connection and bringing all the creation from 7 designers, 11 actors, 3 stage managers and 10 crew into a finely tuned orchestra of the theatre.

Do you have a favourite line or section from the piece? 
KC. There are so many lines I love that Daniel has written. I find new layers connecting across the piece with each new day of rehearsal. I love this cast…I would not be able to pick a favourite moment...each show they surprise me with their unearthing of this production.
 
Was there a specific piece of art that inspired you to become an artist?  
KC: The work of Caravan Farm Theatre, Carbon 14 and Robert Lepage.
 
Do you have any rituals/routines that you do before or when you’re creating? Any weird objects or superstitions that help you be your best creative self?  
KC: Yes I do. I always chose a piece of jewelry to wear through the rehearsal and technical process right through to opening. (Or an object that I set on my desk through the entire process.) The jewelry or object is from a loved one whose essential character, or love I want to draw on for strength through the process; and to remind me what is truly important in life when the artistic process starts to demand and overwhelm one's clarity.
 
What’s the biggest thing audiences should take away with them after a performance?  
KC: 
I think they may leave considering: who they love, who they have lost;  and what they want to be part of creating for those that remain. Perhaps the audience will leave thinking about their complicit role within the structures that create the disparity between those who have and those who don’t in our cities today.
 
Catharsis. There is a deep need to find places to express and release the violence we experience in our lives. To find a way to navigate our questions about who we are and what we are doing with our lives, our social structure and our earth. I think many women will feel  the production expresses something they have longed to have expressed or released  and therefore it will be cathartic. The production is right in the thick of this current power struggle between the old more patriarchal way of do business, and this challenge the women are presenting to that power base. The play sees the Matriarch transcend her fate and the current dominant norms to seek a new way for her soul, for her daughter and for larger society
 
The play looks directly at our complicity and therefore commitment to the current structures we inhabit. These structures support the movement of global capital that finds a secure home in the real estate market and development in Vancouver and Toronto specifically. They are structures that have human cost in our society and certainly abroad. 

I hope audiences will feel inspired by the theatrical nature of the piece, that they will feel alive from having seen an utterly contemporary production in writing and its conceptualization. That currency or edge of seeing something new for the first time. I hope they will walk away profoundly affected by the deep humanity of the piece and will be inspired to converse about what they have seen.
 
Have you attended/participated in Luminato before? What’s your favourite Luminato memory? 
KC: 
I have had great experiences at the Luminato festival. I heard about the festival years ago when I lived in Vancouver. We were all excited that a new festival had launched in Toronto that would showcase art across the city and be a new home for touring work in Canada. A project I loved: Rimini Protocol’s Situation Roooms.
 
What’s your favourite spot in Toronto/the world?  
KC:
My favorite spot in Toronto is cycling through the west end streets on a warm summer evening. My favorite spot in the world is the family cabin on Shuswap Lake in British Columbia.
 

Why did you want to present your work at Luminato and be a part of the festival)?  
KC:
The Full Light of Day is a large scale piece of contemporary performance. This international festival is a strong place for it to find an audience seeking ideas, challenging themes and progressive stage craft.

Luminato presents The Full Light of Day on June 7-13, 2019 at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto.

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