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DaPoPo’s Live-In Festival!

Poster by Trevor Poole
You’ve heard of civil rights and environmental sit-ins…John and Yoko’s Bed-In…maybe even Architecture 2030’s Teach-In…what about DaPoPo Theatre’s Live-In? Their Live-In Festival that is…now in its fifth year!

Every single day in October, the Halifax independent theatre company has and is hosting a plethora of engaging experiences at Theatre Nova Scotia’s Living Room, including performances, workshops, readings and discussions. This year’s theme is “The Personal is Political.” 

Garry Williams, DaPoPo’s artistic director, fills us in on his alternative theatre troupe-some of whom have made the Living Room their temporary home-and what you can expect for the remainder of this month’s merrymaking.

AE: When was DaPoPo Theatre created and how would you describe its distinctive style/mandate?
GW: DaPoPo was created in 2004. We were formed to be inclusive, experimental and somewhat contrary – contrary, at least, in terms of the standard commercial model. Instead, we focus on work that genuinely excites us, and favour artists who are genre-crossing. Our evolving methodology combines various disciplines including improvisation, physical theatre, singing and elements of performance art. 

AE: What is the significance behind the name "DaPoPo"?
GW: The name doffs its hat to Dadaism, that notorious anti-art movement, but also celebrates the idea of theatre that is poetic, political, poor and popular – in the sense of a People's Theatre. We also wanted to avoid the (almost mandatory) maritime pun in our name, mostly because our core members are more urban and international in our focus and outlook – not to devalue the regional aspect, but to acknowledge a different experience and upbringing. 

AE: What inspired the Live-In Festival? 
GW: In its first year, we needed to rent a space for a production of Christopher Hampton's play "When Did You Last See My Mother?" We needed rehearsal and performance space for the month. Out of sheer necessity we scheduled skill sharing workshops and other events to make revenue that we required to afford the space. It was a very practical decision. Now, the Live-In has outgrown its original purpose, and become quite a different thing. 

AE: For those involved in running the festival, what is the experience like? Do you feel like you are indeed living at The Living Room for an entire month?
GW: Oh, yes. Sometimes we sleep over. This year, five of us are there more than full-time, each of us wearing may hats: directing, acting, writing, producing, stage managing. It is extremely intense, both draining and energizing. We function as a kind of family, for the month, relationships that spill over into the year. 

AE: How do you come up with the whole agenda of performances, workshops, readings and special events?
GW: This year, our guiding idea is to examine the personal and the political, and how they intersect. Our intention is always to share how we live – always making art, our process being as important as our product. The variety of programming reflects the variety in every stage of our work. We always try to remain inclusive of established and emerging artists, and reflect the many approaches artists in this region choose in their practice. 

AE: Anything special/new for this year?
GW: One highlight is our special guest, Sky Gilbert, here to read from his new play, “Hackerlove”, but also to facilitate a playwriting workshop and participate in a panel discussion. We have a number of sold-out workshops, including those facilitated by Ann-Marie Kerr and Alexis Milligan. We are blown away, and humbled, by the support we are receiving. Another new development is project-specific partnerships with organizations such as Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC), Friends of the Common, the Mayworks Festival, the Playwrights Guild of Canada and Arts Nova Scotia, as well as our traditional involvement with Nocturne. These relationships have made it possible to run a month-long festival, paying the artists, without provincial or municipal support. 

AE: Anything you'd like to add?
GW: The Live-In Festival is almost entirely audience-funded. It is wonderful to know that those attending every event express their support through their attendance, but also by their donations. It is important for us to know that the festival could not happen without their support. There is simply no better gauge for the value of this festival than its many attendees.  

There is still 17 days to go! What Live-In events will you attend?

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