The play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit brings audience members, an actor and the playwright to a critical moment. The moment where they all meet. Last night’s actor who was invited to the stage to read the script they have never seen before, was Sheldon Elter. Elter is an actor, director and writer who is probably best known for his one-man show, Metis Mutt, which has won him 2 Sterling awards, and has toured across Canada and internationally. In the space of the Big Secret Theatre, Elton was tasked with a pretty difficult job. Do a cold reading of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit while being entertaining, engaging and breathing life into Nassim Soleimanpour’s words enough to do them
Elter had some help. The playwright’s words instructs audience members to number off and there were 79 people in the theatre, all willing and able to help Elter with his task. Audience members took up the posts of playing rabbits and bears, providing hats and money, taking notes (that role was played by this blogger!) and reading the script when needed.
Through Elter, the audience goes on an experimental journey. One where we get to know our Iranian playwright, we find out that Nassim is actually a girl’s name and that he wrote this play in April 2010. It’s his first play in English and how it feel like freedom to travel the world through words. From here, the play explores how the future makes the past and the past makes the future. The play delves into elements of suicide and murder, the limits of obedience and the passive viewer. It all serves as a metaphor for something greater.
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is more of an experience in a theatre than a play. Its ability to engage the viewer rest wholly on the actor who is reading that night. Elter was genuinely charming, funny and personable. The play has already featured Daniel Macivor and the other two guests are Rebecca Northan and Denise Clarke. A little bird (through twitter) informed me that tonight’s performance will feature Northan. Both Northan and Clarke are very capable and should do this great little creative piece more than enough justice.
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. Two shows remain. Tickets and more information available online.
Photo Credit: Hilde Vanstraelen