The following will dig into two films with immensely differing styles, but which both explore the same theme: political brainwashing. In classic good-versus-evil oppositions, one animated family film and one plain-jane documentary each stand to make strong points about the state of media and persuasion in the 21st century.

Isle of Dogs is a high-budget production by a well-known director with an A-list cast. It has a clear style, witty dialogue, and is overall a pithy piece of work that’s visually appealing while dealing with a serious subject: government brainwashing. …


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SpotCo

This instantly recognizable theatre poster advertises the musical Hamilton, which has broken records and sold out across the globe. In the poster, we see a silhouetted figure forming the top point of a black star in the centre of a gold background. The man is wearing an overcoat (with gold/yellow buttons, the only detail on the silhouette) and tall boots and is pointing upwards. Inside the star, in white, reads “HAMILTON / AN AMERICAN MUSICAL”. The poster boasts a very simple design, indicating the lack of necessity for stuffing it full of starred reviews, big names, venue information, awards, and other selling points. …


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Fone Walls

Theatre is all over the place, as far as form. For many, it’s going to a prescribed place (the theatre), sitting in a big group (the audience), and watching made-up characters (played by actors) on a stage with a very clear delimitation (the fourth wall) separating the two. The actors will use their voices to convey dialogue or song to move forward a plot involving some exposition, complication, climax, and denouement. The characters will often develop and learn a lesson about life. Then everyone will go back out through the lobby and maybe grab a drink and hopefully feel the impulse to discuss. But what do people need in order to be satisfied with their experience? Must it include a narrative? Must there be performers? Must there be a cohesive idea that they are meant to understand? Must there be a venue? Is audience satisfaction even the goal? I think it is — although I don’t mean “did they have a good time?” or “did they leave happy?” I mean did the piece of art they just experience accomplish its goal, where “its goal” is wildy variable. …


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Pinterest

Have you watched a Zoom play yet? How did it feel? When I watch theatre on a screen, it feels unimportant. By this I mean to refer to the medium, not the content, as I have seen some wonderful work presented digitally.

(N.B. I want to say right off the bat that I love what the prospect of digital theatre means for people who cannot normally attend, such as people who are differently abled in a way that makes theatre-going difficult. Although I am not in love with how this could segregate them in a potentially harmful way from interacting with the crowd that is easily able to attend live events. This subject deserves its own post, but the topic here focuses on the broader effects of digital theatre on the spectator in general, regardless of ability. …


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As a white theatremaker, I have some work to do. On myself first, of course, so I can better help the industry. The first step is admitting my own weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge. I love and support the BIPOC community in any way I can, but I know it’s still not good enough.

I get uncomfortable talking about race.

I often forget to make space for race issues.

I am insanely privileged.

I want things to be better for BIPOC people in general and theatre-makers in particular. But I sometimes get frustrated when hearing about race issues — from both sides. …


Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”, directed by Hiro Murai

Choreography is generally race neutral — this is great because it allows for more diverse casting of performers. Colour-blind casting is becoming more widely practiced (through some will agree, not enough) in most arts and is overall good news. However, when the performer’s race affects the message of the piece, it is important to consider how the role is cast. As an extreme example, you wouldn’t cast non-Black actors to play Black slaves in a historical drama. But let’s look at a slightly more subtle case:

Can a high school cheerleading squad in Canada with no people of colour learn and perform the choreography to Childish Gambino / Donald Glover’s This Is America? …


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When I was a young child, I wore boys’ clothes and cut my hair short. I guess I was a bit androgynous-looking too because adults always referred to me as a little boy. Once, I had to get my sister from her classroom at school and the teacher said in front of the entire class that her brother was there to get her. It was embarrassing, because I knew I was a little girl. I didn’t even correct her. To this day, I feel more comfortable in the company of men and often pursue hobbies that are mostly considered masculine. …


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Well, this time I’m gonna take that chance.
Leap into the vast expanse.
This time I’m gonna seize my destiny. My destiny.
Lemme hear you say yeah, yeah.

-Kinky Boots

Our final Kinky Boots preview, a matinee, was about to hit the intermission. Tomorrow was opening night and our Lola was set for a double celebration as it would also represent his 300th performance in the role.

But sitting in the production office backstage, hearing Lola belting through the cinderblock, our production manager leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, running his hands through his hair nervously. We were on a conference call that was now pointless. If we had to shut down, it didn’t matter anymore. …

About

Natasha Visosky

sits alone having thoughts about theatre and the world we live in and grows a garden around herself with fleurs and hope and tries to understand.

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