Friday, August 19, 2022

Live from Point Pleasant Park: Hippoposthumous goes on the road

The Unnatural Disaster Theatre Company is taking its play about invasive species from Halifax-based playwright Logan Robins on tour.

Last seen in Point Pleasant Park’s Quarry Pond as part of the 2021 Halifax Fringe Festival, The Unnatural Disaster Theatre Company is taking Hippoposthumous on the road.

If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t belong, come see Hippoposthumous. – Logan Robins

The play with music continues at Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park until July 4 and ends at Dartmouth’s Shubie Park on August 19 and 20. In between, the company performs at various locations across Nova Scotia and in Charlottetown, PEI.

Halifax Presents contributing editor Mark Robins was live at the Quarry Pond in Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park as he chats with lead actor Katherine Norris.

Hippoposthumous is on tour July 1 through August 20 at locations across Nova Scotia, including Halifax (July 2-4) and Dartmouth (August 19 & 20) and Charlottetown, PEI. Visit unnaturaldisaster.ca for tickets and information.

Want to learn more? Check out our encore Q&A, which first appeared on Halifax Presents in September 2021, as we learn more about Hippoposthumous, from playwright, director and producer Logan Robins.

This interview has been edited.

Tell us about Hippoposthumous – what can audiences expect?

Audiences can expect a journey. Audiences can expect to laugh and cry. There will be poetry and music and storytelling in ways they’ve likely never experienced. Audiences should expect not to see ‘invasive species’ the same way ever again. Audiences should expect to fall in love with a hippo.

Where did the inspiration for Hippoposthumous come from?

The inspiration for this play comes from the true and currently unfolding events happening in Colombia surrounding their wild invasive hippo problem.

In his prime, Pablo Escobar has an entire zoo at his estate, Hacienda Napoles, including four imported hippopotamuses. After his downfall, most of the animals were relocated, but the hippos were left to fend for themselves due to their size and temperament. After breaking free into the Magdalena River, these native African animals found a paradise in South America, and their population now stretches past one hundred.

As a theatre maker and environmental educator, I am constantly searching for stories to tell about our often fraught connection to the natural world, and the idea of diving into the concept of invasive species through the eyes of one of these hippos was too good to pass up.

Hippoposthumous is a young, slightly nervous, and surprisingly polymathic hippopotamus living in Colombia’s lush Magdalena River- misplaced in time and space. With their future hanging in the balance, they wallow into the spotlight to explore through rhythm and rhyme the idea of “invasive species”. From starlings in Halifax to giraffes in Paris, Hippoposthumous embarks on a poetic odyssey to discover where they’re from and what it takes to truly belong.

Tell us about the significance of the title?

The title came to me on a whim one chilly January night. I had just read an article about the pros and cons of allowing the invasive hippos to “be fruitful and multiply” in Colombian lakes and rivers. It occurred to me that this whole chain of events had only come about because of the death of Pablo Escobar. Each hippopotamus who calls the Magdalena River their home and whose fate rests in our hands exists posthumously, “occurring or appearing after the death of the originator.” Thus Hippoposthumous. I also love a good pun.

The play is being performed outside during most of its tour stops. Was the play specifically written to be performed outside?

It was immediately clear in my head when I began writing Hippoposthumous that it was a show meant to be performed in a body of water. The connection that all life on earth has with water transcends the walls of traditional theatrical space, and the significance of the river to our story begs to have an actor not merely by the water but in it.

For a show that shares so many stories intrinsically linked to nature, it is the greatest gift we can give the audience to experience this production while engulfed in nature themselves.

What will surprise audiences about Hippoposthumous?

I think audiences will be surprised by what they discover they have in common with these hippos and our young protagonist, Hippoposthumous, in particular. The way we are connected to invasive species. I think many will be surprised by how much fun this show is to experience and just how endearing and sweet our lead hippo is.

I truly believe that this will be a show unlike any audiences have seen before, and I expect them to be in for a rollercoaster of surprises from the moment the play begins to long after it has finished.

Why should someone see Hippoposthumous?

To gather around a body of water just before the sun sets, to hear the wind rustling through the trees and the crickets chirping, and to be immersed in the landscape while telling stories is an experience unlike any other. If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t belong, come see Hippoposthumous.

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