A human touch
Joshua Newman is a long way from home. Along with the other members of Four Shadows, the York, England theatre student has spent the semester here in Regina studying Theatre at the U of R.
As Newman describes it, Four Shadows is “a performance company that was formed early this year as a result of finishing our first year of university in York. We did our final performance for the year and then were asked if we wanted to put it on at the end of every year. Originally, it was an entire class ensemble piece [with] sixteen students [that] whittled down to eight by the final performance, and from that three of us have come [to Regina] and decided that we want to carry on that work.”
The remaining members of Four Shadows teamed up with two students here at the University of Regina, and wrote the performance, Out in the Cold. “[Writing Out in the Cold] came as a response to a couple of workshops we did … based as working as an ensemble. We started to work with images that we had in mind, and played games as well. A lot of it came from games, which is evident in the performance. We were also looking into the conflict that happened in Sarajevo during [the Bosnian War]. [Out in the Cold] came from that mixed with games and playing around in a space.”
During his stay here in Regina, Newman has found some differences between theatre performance here and in England. “The approach is much more traditional here; it’s very much plays and scripts. The piece we’re performing, [which] we devised ourselves, is not a play; it’s got no characters; there’s no script … we found it liberating to be a part of that. Due to its lack of character it is just us. It’s not me playing someone else; it’s me playing me. It’s Josh on stage.”
How can a theatre performance function without characters? “It’s an aggregate of several cross-disciplines. The way we’ve made it probably has more ties to dance than theatre, but when you watch it, it’s got more links to visual arts and sculpture. It’s a lot of fun to play with.”
Despite not having scripted lines, the performance features strong themes. “There’s a big theme on human contact. As we’re actors, performers, and artists working with what could be called a dying medium … with the internet, and television, and film, and everything now, the performance of live bodies in a space is becoming less and less frequent. In that respect, we’ve gone in the opposite direction and focused more on human contact. I guess it’s our response to how everything nowadays is electronic; it’s all text messages, Facebook, and things like that. We’ve focused on people actually coming into contact which is why when we set up the space, the audience seating is very, very close to the performance; it’s quite intimate in that respect.”
It’s going to be interesting to see audience reactions to the performance. “I’m not really sure [what the audience should expect] because I’m not sure what we expect as performers from the piece.”
However Out in the Cold turns out, it promises to be intriguing as it bridges the gap between different areas of art. Out in the Cold will be performed Saturday, Dec. 4 in RC 176.