While marquees are beginning to light up once again after being dark for 18 months due to the pandemic, the reality is not everyone is ready to reenter the theatre just yet. For those still looking for their theatre fix, the answer may well be Plays2Perform@Home.
A series of five box sets of short plays from different regions across Canada, each collection comes with a copy for each character to allow everyone to play their part and is intended for audiences to create their own theatrical experience at home.
Conceived by Vancouver indie theatre company Boca del Lupo, Plays2Perform@Home has grown from a single West Coast version to five sets from six theatre companies and twenty playwrights across Canada. Each collection is packaged in a boutique box set by award-winning designer Valerie Thai and delivered right to your doorstep.
The partners involved in this project are no less extraordinary, each have long histories of creating impactful theatre within their communities. These national partnerships are an extension of our collective desire to connect. With a total of five box sets representing regions from the east coast to the west, Plays2Perform@Home will continue to inspire theatre lovers across the country, especially for those craving the imaginative stimulation that only live theatre can provide.. – Vancouver’s Boca del Lupo.
“We have commissioned four Atlantic Canadian playwrights to create the Eastern Box set with four new short plays for you to try your hand at,” says Eastern Front Theatre’s artistic director Kat McCormack in a media release.
Among the quartet of playwrights for the Eastern Box, which includes Marc-André Charron, Jena Elizabeth McLean, and Santiago Guzmán, is Halifax-based Mary-Colin Chisholm. The veteran actor, writer and co-founder of LunaSea Theatre wrote A Kind Nest for the project, her very first short play.
“The challenge was to write a short play that anyone could read at the kitchen table or in a backyard,” says Chisholm. “That’s unusual because usually you’re writing a play knowing who the actors are going to be and how it’s going to be produced.”
Chisholm’s own backyard played a role in penning A Kind Nest as it was where she first got inspiration watching the birds in her tree, realizing how vicious they can be with each other and witnessing the society they created among themselves.
“It’s not what the play eventually became about, but it was the seed that I started with,” she says. “A couple of friends, bickering, actually being cruel to each other in the way that you can be cruel to people you’re familiar with, but underneath it all is kindness.”
From there, Chisholm’s story grew into a ghost story of sorts, surprised that none of the other twenty playwrights as part of the project had tackled the genre.
“So I wrote a short, less than 20-minute piece that is a drama with a few funny lines about friends who get together every summer,” she says. “And then, without giving away too much, there’s a slightly supernatural twist.”
Chisholm’s play is a nice compliment to the other three stories in the Eastern Box, including a political sci-fi satire, a tale of two lovers alone at the Louvre during a global pandemic, and a collection of stories sourced from two dozen interviews and voice recordings. It is in the variety that Chisholm says those purchasing the sets will find the most satisfaction.
“You’re going to dip into a multifaceted world because all the plays are very different, and they all have little surprises in them,” she says.
The five box sets from across Canada, including the East Coast version, are available for purchase individually or as a complete national set from Boca del Lupo. For more information on the four plays in the East Coast Box, visit easternfronttheatre.com.