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Curtain Razors’ Bad Blood has been a long time coming

author: alexa lawlor | staff writer

The play is informed by Tremblay’s near-death experience through the Saskatchewan public health system. Photo credit: pixabay
The play is informed by Tremblay’s near-death experience through the Saskatchewan public health system. Photo credit: pixabay

Joey Tremblay talks autobiography, trauma, and medicine with Bad Blood.

With the performances of Spring’s Awakening happening this week, the theatre department is already gearing up for the winter semester’s production of Bad Blood, written and directed by Joey Tremblay and produced by Curtain Razors Theatre. This week, on Tuesday Nov. 8, is a lecture version that includes excerpts from the play with a discussion to follow. I chatted with Joey and got a little preview of both the lecture and the production.

Can you tell me what the play is about?

We’re calling it a sort of gothic, stand-up retelling of my navigation through the health care system. A few years back I had a couple of near-death experiences and it’s a little bit of a retelling of that story, going through the Saskatchewan health care system and the flaws and ups and downs of that. It’s a little bit opera, a little bit stand-up comedy, a little bit storytelling theatre; it’s sort of a nice range of comedy and tragedy.

What was the writing process like?

It was fraught and terrible because I kind of had to relive what was a hellish adventure, you know, and I didn’t really want to do it. Essentially, the story is me being told I was going to die about five times, and how I came to terms with that. Then, by the end I didn’t die, clearly, and so that sort of caused post-traumatic stress in a lot of ways. Part of getting over it was writing about this, but that made it really hard because then I had to go through all that again.

Can you discuss the upcoming lecture version?

I’m doing a lecture version coming up next week at the university, it’s just going to be me doing it, a reading, I guess, for it to gain interest for students, especially nursing students and fine arts students, but also psychology and social work students. We’re doing a lecture, a talk-back version of it, on Nov. 8 in the Education Auditorium, and then the full production will take place in the winter semester in March 2017.

There are five professional actors going to be working on the production of the play in the winter semester, right? Can you specify who they are?

There are five professional performers that are going to be guests at the [University of Regina], through my company, Curtain Razors. Jayden Pfeifer will be playing the role of me, as well as Kris Alvarez, Kenn McLeod, Michael Scholar, Jr., and Amy Matysio. They’re all alumni of the University of Regina as well. Then, there will be, we’re hoping, about twenty students that will provide the chorus and sort of the operatic background, the storytelling through movement and opera; they really are the storytellers, if that makes any sense.

How is directing a play that you wrote different from directing a play written by someone else?

It’s quite different because I know the material so well. When I’m writing, I have myself in mind as a director, so I know exactly what the images and everything are, and how I want to create and tell the story. I also have way more license because, if I’m directing someone else’s play, I have to be sort of sensitive about, you know, the other writer’s writing. When it’s my own writing, I can just do whatever I want with it, without having to ask for permission to change something.

Can you tell me a little bit about what the audition will entail for students interested in being a part of the production, as well as what the audition process will be like for you, as the director?

It will probably be like an entire group movement/dance thing, and also a choral, singing audition as well, in the group. I don’t want to do individual auditions, because it’s interesting to see how groups of people work together; that’s why I’m doing it that way. The chorus provides all of the sound score and the movement, which is the atmosphere, the movement and sound score, so they have to be pretty adept, with a great vocal ability.

I’ll be there with Kathryn Ricketts and Helen Pridmore. Basically it’ll be just watching the exercises to see what works well together. It’s a lot of intense work at just observing, if that makes sense.

What would you say to students that are preparing to audition for the show?

I’d say just be free and open, and bring all your bags of tricks! (laughs)

For people interested in auditioning for the production, you can send an email to curtainrazors@gmail.com, expressing your interest. From there, a date and time will be set for a group audition.

Get a sneak peek of Bad Blood on Nov. 8 in the Education Auditorium (EA 106) at 6:00 p.m.

About Alexa Lawlor