Pop-Up Love Party!

Photo by Scott Munn

Tonight and tomorrow night, as part of Mag North, Halifax’s Zuppa Theatre Co presents Pop-Up Love Party, a“multi- sensory feast of dance, theatre and thought” to “raise a glass to love.” AE caught up with the show’s director, Alex McLean, to find out more about the delicious production.

When and why did you first become interested in theatre?
AM: My mother was really involved in community theatre when I grew up, so theatre just seemed like a normal part of life to me. While my friends were going to Sunday School, I was playing backstage at community theatres and watching my mother and her friends rehearse. 

Are they the same reasons that you continue to be involved today?
AM: I think so. The theatre became a place for me in which I could try to make sense of the world. My perspective on things has changed, but I still use theatre as a tool of grappling with the complexities and ambiguities of experience. And it actually works sometimes.

What are the challenges of the vocation?
AM: It's very, very, very hard to make a living. As a result, the pressures to ignore your innate creative instincts are great, and that is a recipe for a life poorly lived.

What are the rewards?
AM: Sometimes you feel like you've really gotten through to people, like you've done something rare and beautiful. It's a truly incredible feeling.

Is your creative process more 'inspirational' or 'perspirational'?
AM:
Hmm. Both, I think, depending on the day. Sometimes it really sucks and it feels like everything is an effort and nothing is paying off. But then something clicks and the rehearsal room comes alive and it feels like we are able to send sparks flying. I'm writing this after a perspirational day and hoping that tomorrow will be inspirational.

What inspired Pop-Up Love Party?
AM: We wanted to make a show with Daniel Burns, who is an amazing chef. Great food plays directly to the senses while also stimulating the imagination, the emotions, and the mind. We thought our show should rise to this challenge and cast a wide net, touching on everything from physical pleasure to big ideas. We got together one night to read The Symposium by Plato and it seemed like the perfect fit. It surprised us, made us laugh, made us argue, made us marvel at the fact that a piece of writing from nearly 2,500 years ago could seem so contemporary. That is how it became our primary text, and now Chef Burns is working on a menu of small plates to compliment it.

What can audiences here expect to experience?
AM: It's a work-in-progress, but we want it to feel like a great party at which you are part of a great conversation. Daniel Burns' food won't be in this preliminary version of the show, but don't despair: it takes place at Lion and Bright (a great new bar/cafe on Agricola Street) and there is an option to order food and drink to accompany the show. It's a chance to be part of a fun new experiment.

What are your thoughts on the current state of theatre in Canada?
AM: It's an exciting time, in many ways. I think theatre in Canada is breaking out of its shell, and people are coming up with ways to keep it meaningful and electric. I think a lot of great stuff is going to happen in the next decade.

What can we be doing better?
AM: We can be more adventurous. It's still too easy to pigeonhole ourselves and to have all the answers before we genuinely ask questions. The best art is about the joy of being off balance, yet we aim for consensus and stasis a lot.

What's next on your creative agenda?
AM:
We're running our second summer workshop series in July, offering intensive training in acting and theatre creation. Meanwhile, I'll be working on a play about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York in 1911, and the really important trial that followed. Then, in August, Zuppa will begin to make a new show with the poet Kate Cayley. It's a busy summer.

Pop-Up Love Party!
Presented by Zuppa Theatre Co.

June 24: 10:00pm
June 25: 10:00pm

Lion and Bright Café Wine Bar

$10 for the show; $25 for dinner and the show

www.magneticnorthfestival.ca/2014festival/pop-love-party