Arts & Culture

Dapopo. Duh.

Garry Williams has just returned from the theatre company Dapopo Theatre’s trip to Berlin, where they took part in the prestigious FEZ-Berlin’s “Just Say It” festival.

Garry Williams is jet-lagged. But from the way he’s wolfing down an espresso brownie and chatting excitedly about theatre, you’d never know it.
Williams is Artistic Director of DaPoPo Theatre, a Halifax-based theatre company whose goal is not to put “bums on seats,” Williams says, but “to move away from the commercial and to put up shows that interest them artistically.”
He’s just returned from the company’s trip to Berlin, where they took part in the prestigious FEZ-Berlin’s “Just Say It” festival.
Williams is originally from Berlin, and when an old school friend called him up in 2004 to ask if he would be interested in setting up something to perform at the English Cultural Week festival there, he couldn’t refuse. “We’ve come back every two years now,” says Eric Benson, King’s Alumnus and one of the company’s associate directors.
FEZ-Berlin is an artistic youth institution full of exclusive programming targeted at high school students, which Williams says “is both inspiring and sickening, because of the great things that it’s doing but also because it reminds us of what the youth here in Halifax are missing out on.”
But Dapopo is working to fix that.
To prepare for their big trip, they held their second annual “Live in at the Living Room” in October: a month full of workshops and play readings at Theatre Nova Scotia’s living room-sized space on Agricola St.
This is the kind of thing the city needs,” Williams says, “You get to see the play readings and to meet the playwrights, and it doesn’t cost you $150.”
DaPoPo, whose mandate is to “explore, experiment, and educate,” uses different venues to showcase classics, new work, and anything they’re passionate about.
For Berlin, for example, they set up a piece called, “The Halifax Hearings.”
“It’s about our ability to understand the present and project an idea of the future, living in a global world,” Williams says.
They were even able to bring their innovative Halifax hit, Café DaPoPo,’ to Berlin.
As Williams explains, Café Dapopo, “is just like a restaurant.” Feel like Shakespearean sonnet? Or maybe a side of comedic monologue? Choose from a diverse menu of theatre performances that are served right to your table. “You see people at other tables enjoying what they’ve ordered and it sways your choice, just as if you had gone out for a dinner!”
“A year and a half ago, a producer came to us asking if we would be interested in finding a café in Berlin to do this more often,” Williams says. “With a larger population and bigger art community, it could happen more often, a few times a week rather than once or twice a month.”
Both men feel that theatre needs to be transformative. Benson remembers back to something that beloved King’s professor Dr. Thomas Curran had once said, “you don’t leave a conversation unchanged.” The same thing is applied to their acting. “It’s the same idea as with the dialogue between an actor and the audience: if you haven’t been transformed then it’s been a loss.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

Leave a Reply