Water explores civilization’s most precious element

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Vancouverites know a thing or two about the wet stuff, as it surrounds us and seems endlessly to fall from the sky.  But in recognizing the quality of life on earth is more intrinsically linked to water than proximity and rain, Vancouver’s Theatre Terrific explores the essence of this life-giving liquid in its new and appropriately titled site-specific production, Water.

James CoomberFollowing the success of the group’s site-specific production last year that used bread as its catalyst,  Theatre Terrific is once again back outside for their newest production using song, dance, large puppets and live music to tell its story of a river and its reflection as a microcosm of earth’s most precious element.

“It’s a pretty large project and anyone that enjoys spectacle theatre will have a good time,” said James Coomber (pictured right), the show’s co-director, composer and resident accordionist.

To be held at Andy Livingston Park, the location was chosen by Coomber and co-director Susana Uchatius after a member of Theatre Terrific had researched the Vancouver parks that had some kind of water feature.  Narrowing it down to three, Coomber and Uchatius visited each, finally landing on the park located at Expo Boulevard and Carrall Street.

“Susana and I really fell in love with Andy Livingstone Park,” said Coomber.  “It was a park we didn’t know about even though we both worked just a few blocks away.  It is a gorgeous hidden park with a beautiful architectural fountain.”

That fountain and the park’s cobble-bottomed stream will come into play as members of Theatre Terrific, which include professional and emerging artists with or without developmental, physical, or mental health issues, gender or language challenges, bring Water to audiences.

A collaborative process, once the location was chosen, Coomber and Uchatius started working with the Theatre Terrific ensemble to create the story of Water.

“The first part of our rehearsals was to devise scenes with certain characters and images from our research and work with the ensemble to create those scenes,” explained Coomber.  “Susana and I would go away and refine these characters and situations that would form a working script.  It definitely would not be possible without the collaboration as the group determined the overall story and characters.”

Coomber admits that working with performers with or without physical or other disabilities is as challenging as undertaking a piece of theatre in a non-traditional venue.

“There are very immediate challenges that you have to consider when you go outside a traditional venue like this park,” said Coomber.  “For example, if someone is in a wheelchair, how do you move them around in the park?  But also something as simple as making sure our performers can be heard in an outside venue.”

But it is in always being conscious of its performer’s potential that has made Theatre Terrific so successful in bringing together artists who would normally not get an opportunity to work together.

“We want to challenge everyone and not turn down the potential they might have,” said Coombers.  “We incorporate exactly who they are and the challenges they might face every day.”

Andy Livingston Park
29 June – 8 July 2012

Water tells the story of one river – the gods that fought, the fish that swam, the fishermen that fished, the water-carriers that fetched and water buyers who bought; all deeply affecting the very life and soul of the river’s flow. With songs, dance, celebrations, large puppetry, raging passions, and live music the river’s journey in Water is a microcosm of civilization’s greatest and most precious element on this planet.  Visit http://www.theatreterrific.ca for more information.

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