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Arts & Culture

Memory Lane

The writing process of King’s students Patrick Blenkarn and Bryn McLeod’s original play, M is for Drowning, turned Blenkarn’s living room into a blizzard-like scene. Scraps of paper containing ideas for the script cover the entire surface of the main wall.

The writing process of King’s students Patrick Blenkarn and Bryn McLeod’s original play, M is for Drowning, turned Blenkarn’s living room into a blizzard-like scene. Scraps of paper containing ideas for the script cover the entire surface of the main wall.
“It’s very montage-like,” said Blenkarn.
This brainstorm began in August when Blenkarn started to develop a script made up of “fragments,” short scenes that each simulate a memory. He emailed them to his co-director, co-writer, co-producer, and co-founder of Wheelwright Theatre, McLeod. To begin forming a script, she selected and gave notes on her favourites, and the two continued the exchange until December.
The long writing process was due to the complexity of the subject of the play—memory.
“What would you see if someone’s memory exploded, and you saw all of their memories at once projected in front of you?” considers McLeod. “What would it look like, feel like, sound like, smell like?”
The memory that the audience will be privy to is open to interpretation. The writers imagine that the thoughts come from a young adult’s experiences, but it’s up to the audience to decide whose mind they are entering.
“Someone will walk out of it and think that was one person. Someone else is going think there was a couple it was their memories smashed together. Someone else is going to think these are all just totally disparate fragments. We work with all of those options in rehearsal,” said McLeod.
In order to fully portray the different types of memories one may have, the play combines theatre, dance, storytelling, music, video, and more to explore memory from many perspectives and senses.
“You could remember a moment through dance, through a gesture,” adds Blenkarn.
The diverse cast was one of the biggest influences on the play. It is made up of a Dal student, a King’s student, a NSCAD student, a local Halifax theatre artist and another young adult.
“We wanted to have people from different communities and different perspectives,” said Blenkarn.
The variety of talents that each actor brought both strengthened and expanded the play’s content, making it truly unique. One of the actors, Gina Thornhill, specializes in gesture work, and another, Magnus Von Tiesenhausen, makes music from radio sounds. Both have shared their skills with the group.
The rehearsals are intense due to the high level of creativity demanded from every member of the cast to explore this complicated subject. The actors are encouraged to let loose and to try things out of their ordinary comfort zones, especially with gestures. Movement such as running on the spot, climbing on top of furniture, and dancing are common.
“There’s not the feeling that they need to be realistic or naturalistic at any moment,” said McLeod. “They can be wacky.”
This is McLeod and Blenkarn’s second time as co-directors. The duo directed Hippolytos this fall with the KTS, but it is their first time putting up a play on their own.
The script was a long process of evolution, said McLeod. “It transformed, and transformed, and transformed… into what we have now.” And the play is still evolving. “I’m sure that up until the day we perform it’s going to keep changing.”
M is for Drowning will be on February 2-5, 2012 at The Bus Stop Theatre. Doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. Tickets $10 students/$15 others

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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