A MESSAGE FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
OLD WORLD/NEW WORLD
Neworld Theatre was founded in 1995 by my good pal Camyar Chai, in collaboration with a number of artists, of which I was just one. I remember super-clearly the debates that happened around the name we ended up choosing. We settled on Neworld as a reference to something that is deep, ancient history now: George Bush the Elder’s declaration in the early 1990’s that we were living in a “New World Order”, as defined by the United States’ very first war against Iraq. Calling this nascent little theatre company Neworld was an attempt to snatch that idea back, to say, “No. Your idea of a New World is very different than the one we imagine in our little corner of the Pacific Northwest arts scene.” And we spelled it weird, too. A bunch of different ways.
Some of Neworld’s early shows responded to this idea in a very specific way, We wanted to say the things that couldn’t be said, to resist the dull drone of carefully rehearsed political rhetoric that masked imperial ambition and the wholesale slaughter of innocents. Devil Box Cabaret, and Ali and Ali and the aXes of Evil, were rooted in the Middle East, transgressive, profane and – says me – hilarious.
How times have changed. I just read this terrific book by the Irish cultural theorist Angela Nagle. It’s called Kill all Normies, and it catalogues how reactionary forces in our culture have appropriated the idea of transgression. Through calculated use of online forums like Reddit and others, they’ve made it a central tactic of the racist, misogynist right, and contributed hugely to the rise of He Who Must Not Be Named. They’ve taken what we thought were tactics of resistance and made them the hallmark of reaction and hate. In Nagle’s view, this monstrous baiting has its roots in the kind of resistance we began making more than 20 years ago.
Which – maybe ironically – makes me think about the many shows we are producing this season. What I see in them is a reaction against the transgressive, or maybe a new kind of transgression: one in which new ways of resistance are imagined by the creation of spaces in which often dismissed ideas and experiences which are welcomed into the centre of the work we make. And, for the record, this includes the economic experience of so many of our fellow citizens over the last 30 years, a period in which neo-liberalism has enriched the few at the expense of the many, to a degree unheard of in modern history. The time for yelling and screaming is past. Now is the time to open up space, to hand over control, to share experience and resources and to risk having our own unarticulated presumptions, fears and prejudices be both named and seen. And so we’re making many shows. 7 of them! New and old: King Arthur’s Night takes the idea of working across perceptions of difference to the deepest level in the company’s experience. As a result of it’s first tour’s success we’re also embarking on a second, micro-scale investigation with Niall McNeil, S*#t Niall Likes, that opens up the idea of dialogue and difference in the most intimate, hilarious and surprising way we can imagine.
The Pipeline Project and Awkward and Embarrassing Conversations About Difference take performance and pair it with facilitated dialogue about questions central to our collective futures. Inside/Out, Patrick Keating’s honest and engaging reflection on his time in Canada’s penitentiary system will tour the country. Jabber is a play for teens about the experience of a young Muslim immigrant who forms a relationship with a bad-ass white kid in her new school. Our big new, multi-year collaboration with Studio 58 tackles a new old world young people must deal with (in a way I never had to) with internet porn as a fully embedded, fully accessible part of their sexual and emotional lives. Associate Production The Ridiculous Darkness (by Alley Theatre) is simply one of the best plays about colonial legacy and capitalism we have ever read.
Another thing that’s new and old – people coming and going. This season we say goodbye to our extraordinary Communications and Operations Coordinator Christine Quintana, who leaves us for exciting artistic opportunities in Toronto and elsewhere. We love you Christine. You have contributed far more to Neworld’s growth and culture than your title could ever capture. We are very lucky, however, to welcome Corinna Hagel into the role. Corinna comes to us from BC film production and distribution company Omnifilm (not to mention recent parenthood and Fringe SM’ing back in the day) and we feel very fortunate that she wants to work with us. Also exciting is welcoming our new Resident Producer, Davey Calderon who tags out the fundamentally irreplaceable Fay Nass in this annual mentorship position.
Everything old is new again. Change is a process, not a result. And art-making is one small way we try to achieve that. Happy 2017/18. Here we are. This New World, that one day will be the old.
– Marcus Youssef, Artistic Director
A MESSAGE FROM THE ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
CAN WE TALK WITH THE FACE?
In his song “True Affection”, hipster wordsmith Father John Misty asked “when can we talk with the face instead of using all these strange devices?” I just love that question so much. I’m forever reminding myself to talk with the face. It’s hard these days.
In the new world, technology and the primacy of social media in our daily lives is an undeniable fact. We can’t dodge it or go around it. It’s just not possible anymore. So, the most vital question in this becomes: how do we live in a high-tech world in such a way that we retain our humanity and empathy? In my work this year I’m tackling this question in many ways with grownups down to grade 8s.
For me, the new world is one where, more than ever before, it is vital that we push to find a way to see and hear each other through the endless noise of tech. We need to dare the radical act of in real life communication. With this season, we are making spaces for real contact to take place. Live. In person. With the face.
– Chelsea Haberlin, Associate Artistic Director