Our two National Shows—both featuring ground breaking artists from Toronto—play our closing week of rEvolver Festival with only four performances each.
We talked to the creative team behind Mr. Truth that includes creators/performers Alaine Hutton and Lauren Gillis to find out more about their approach to this off beat sketch comedy show.
How many characters do you play jointly in Mr. Truth?
It’s either 18 or 22, depending on how you count realities nested in other realities through the use of wigs and deliberately awful green screen.
You push the boundaries of what is it to be uncomfortable. What has been the reaction been like from audiences in previous runs?
We’re all about that teetering feeling of discomfort where the potential for huge failure and ecstasy are both hovering in the air. Is a particular discomfort an unnecessary and harmful experience, a sign that you should avoid or put a stop to the thing causing it? Or is it the discomfort of transformation as your mind and body hatch new things? How do we navigate this in the erotic realm?
The reactions we get to this exploration are all over the map. Sometimes we get laughter, sometimes audible sounds of disgust, sometimes quiet contemplation. Some people find it very cathartic, or fun, or frustrating, in equal measure. We love hearing about friends who see the show together and come out with completely different experiences. One person’s delicious really is another person’s revolting; one person’s intense experience of shame and alienation is another person’s banality.
Costume design is important in your works and in Mr. Truth some of the costumes are for comedic reactions. How do you work with envisioning costuming when creating new works?
We think as big and imaginative as we can first, and then consider how it’s going to be done with an indie theatre budget later. I think a lot of this comes from loving puppetry, but wanting to use our whole bodies and faces “inside” puppets, so our work often features large costumes that sit somewhere between full-body puppets and creature costumes. Lauren loves assembling creature heads, and Alaine loves the minutiae of men’s clothing that initially appear to look the same, but create completely different people with small gestural adjustments. We find these interests create a useful spectrum of fantasy, horror, and reality to work with.
Some costumes, like the enlarged human cervix who converses with its host, appear live onstage. For others, the laws of physics have necessitated that we film particular sections, and then figure out where the dramaturgy of film vs. theatre intersects with the content. As a company, we want design—whether it be costume, sound, light, film, or projected animation—to function on equal footing with text, character, and movement.
What's up next? Any new productions in creation phase?
We’re currently working on a piece called Safe and Sorry. It’s about a mens’ dating coach named Keith Much, a pretty ethical, savvy guy who is severely challenged when his seminar gets suddenly popular online and new students start flooding in from the darker corners of the internet. He does the ill-advised (Reads The Comments) and things really spiral from there. It’s an uneasy comedy that dips further into grotesquery as it unfolds.
PRAISE FOR MR. TRUTH
“Funny and smart sketch show lampoons all sorts of amusing characters on the sexual spectrum” — Now Toronto
“…. a defiantly progressive work, dishing out satire at every turn to combat censorship in the panoply of things that get people off. Co-stars and co-creators, Alaine Hutton and Lauren Gillis, leave it all on the stage with virtuoso performances that dazzle in their display of characterization, emotional vitality, and comedic timing.” — Mooney on Theatre
“Mr. Truth… has a quirky, kinky heart that is beating to be expressed and experienced.” — My Gay Toronto
MORE ABOUT LESTER TRIPS THEATRE
Lester Trips (Theatre) teeters at the visceral and intellectual edge of what could uncomfortably be termed “comedy”, exploring moral conundrums in urban millennials’ relationship to desire, consumption, and doubt. Since 2011, Co-Artistic Directors Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton have been devising work with a bouffonesque approach to character, deliberately maddening dramaturgy, and a performance foundation stemming from shared training in butoh-based embodiment with Denise Fujiwara, and Fides Krucker’s approach to extended range vocal practice.
Previous works include the peri-apocalyptic deformation of the Wizard of Oz, Intangible Trappings (dir. ted witzel, 2016), and a seedy adaptation of Camus’ The Misunderstanding (Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, 2014). Their next project, Safe and Sorry, follows a well-meaning dating coach who Reads The Comments and descends into their own personal hell.