dirty butterfly and the music of the street language

the info:

dirty butterfly

by debbie tucker green

bound to create theatre

october 30 – november 17 2013

aki studio theatre | daniels spectrum | 585 dundas street east, toronto

 the details:

My first foray into watching (and hopefully participating as a composer in) live theatre in Toronto was a stroke of luck. Brief email correspondence, invitation and a ticket I bought online to the preview of dirty butterfly, a play by debbie tucker green, presented by Bound To Create Theatre. 

The invitation came from Jack Grinhaus, Co-Artistic Director of the company. Didn’t know anything about the play, even less about the playwright and very little about this group of artists that feel they are bound to create.

For a little over an hour we, the audience, were treated to a whirlwind of emotions, speech constructed in a way you rarely hear or read, wonderful effort by three talented actors and some pretty cool theatrical discoveries by Grinhaus himself.

In an interview for the English Guardian newspaper, debbie tucker green says about her work:

“I was just messing about, writing stuff down and throwing it away or keeping it if it interested me. Then the writing started to get longer. I didn’t know whether it was a poem, the lyrics to a song or a play. It is all much of a muchness to me. It’s all words, ain’t it?”

After seeing dirty butterfly I fully understand what she means. The always difficult subject matter of domestic abuse is tackled head on, both in the text and the production. But don’t let that heaviness scare you. I will give you a very good reason to go and see it. The way the actors navigate through what could easily become an exploding minefield of language, rhythm and meaning. The words are masks, weapons, shields, poetry of the “street-dirty” kind, often overlapping each other, running parallel, taking your concentration as a spectator to a new level. As a result you are drawn into the stories of the characters, you become more and more “invested” in them as the play progresses.  And their stories are not all dreary. But for that a bit later.

The point to mention here is the extremely difficult task presented for the actors. How to steer through this amazing three-part choir without rushing AND without stopping for too long? How to keep your own internal rhythm, which often is crucial for creating any character and at the same time be part of a balancing act of three people?

One thing is sure: Lauren BrotmanBeryl Bain and Kaleb Alexander deliver. They have managed to get to depths of expression, which at times seem surprising even to them. Without dropping the ball even once in their speaking trio on stage, each one of them manages to create memorable personalities, sometimes with just a few strokes. Beryl Bain as the cleaner with a dream, Kaleb Alexander as the neighbour with a few secrets of his own and Lauren Brotman, whose character repeatedly wonders if today would be her last day, are a well matched ensemble. I know I will be following with anticipation those three further in their career and keeping my fingers crossed that our paths converge professionally in the near future.

The language of the play very often sounds as a song. Melodic, with certain refrains repeated over and over, like a lull before a storm. It wonderfully matches the subject and the story, which is told in a very masterful but never contrived way.

Here is the place and time to mention that the set and costumes, done by Jackie Chau and the sound design by Samuel Sholdice are supporting wholeheartedly the rhythm and the atmosphere of the production.

I wouldn’t want to reveal any more “secrets” from dirty butterfly because I will urge you to go and see it but I would just say that jack Grinhaus has done a terrific job in deciphering this wonderful barb-wired text. The overall rhythm and melody of the play stay with you long after you have seen it.



 the links:

bound to create theatreobsidian theatre pagebuy tickets online