April 27, 2012

Sarasvati Productions' Eden (preview)

Kevin Gabel and Andrea Del Campo in Eden (photo credit Janet Shum)

After 9/11, local playwright Hope McIntyre says she found herself living in fear.

Not a new found fear of terrorism; she’d already become acquainted with other, larger scale atrocities through her work with Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. What scared her more was how quickly western nations were willing to abandon their celebrated human rights in the name of defense and revenge.

“What scared me more so out of 9/11,” McIntyre says, “was how the US responded; that sense of ‘you’re either with us or against us.’ That sense of ‘anyone who even could possibly be a terrorist deserves to have every human right taken away from them until we find out for sure if they are a terrorist.’ That sort of response made me frightened.”

That fear is the spark behind her new play Eden, opening soon for McIntyre’s local theatre company Sarasvati Productions. The play is set in a dystopian future which McIntyre considers a logical extension of the War on Terror, where members of the youngest generation are struggling to sort facts from fiction in their inherited worldviews.

“In the play we get two sides of a conflict and one of the larger questions asked is ‘if people have two completely different worldviews, how can they come together?’”

If you’re worried this sounds less like a play and more like a speechifying, intellectual quagmire, relax. McIntyre is quick to point out that while the play asks some big questions, it’s geared to grab millenials’ attentions.

“There’s a love story, video segments, an Aboriginal cultural influence in the play – there’s so many elements that yes, there’s lots to think about, but there’s also lots of engagement. The director (Sharon Bajer) has said that every scene will have at least one laugh – that’s her goal. Because even characters in a horrible situation find a way to laugh. Otherwise you can’t survive.”

As well as referencing playwrights like Caryl Churchill and Harold Pinter, McIntyre says the play parallels pop culture sources like Keifer Sutherland’s hit show 24 – both for questioning some nations’ rationalizing torture and for having a compressed time line.

“The play begins with a really, really busy day when everything goes to hell and everyone’s trying to cope with it. Which usually makes for a good play – if you can find a way to start with all shit breaking loose.”

Eden runs April 27 to May 13 at the University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are $18 ($12 for students) and the run includes three Pay What You Can performances. More details at  sarasvati.ca

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