Thursday, November 12, 2015

drowning girls | interview with director Ulla Laidlaw

Pacific Theatre apprentices Jess Amy Shead, Kim Larson, and Julia Siedlanowska have been hard at work producing, acting in, and being part-time professional movers for THE DROWNING GIRLS. Written by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson, and Daniela Vlaskalic, the play is based on the historic case of late twentieth century killer George Joseph Smith and the wives he murdered. THE DROWNING GIRLS is a social critique on the misconceptions of love, married life, the "not-so-happily ever after," and features three bathtubs on stage! 

Drowning Girls Director Ulla Laidlaw

What is a past production or project of yours that sticks out as a favourite?

Oh my gosh, this is really about me - I thought it would just be about the play! …. I think the last piece I directed. Which is Sasha Singer-Wilson’s My Ocean. It's a one man show featuring Nadeem Phillip as an impassioned 12-year old environmentalist . It was a favourite because it was an opportunity to work with two people I admired and trusted.  I found that the work that we were able to do was really deep because of that.  And, we three are all also impassioned environmentalists so our bond to the material was inherent.

What drew you to this piece?

I value the challenge of directing something that I don’t select. It’s a different skill-set than when I direct something that’s of my initiation - it's a different side of creativity. 

And, The Drowning Girls had its own unique draws for me:  It's Canadian work, and it features three women - hard to find. 

And finally, when I first read it, I didn't feel I understood it.  I felt it had something to teach me.

What in your life do you feel has equipped you best for directing this particular production?

I actually keep drawing a lot on my university education, and I graduated 10 years ago.  I keep thinking of one of my professors, Kim Renders, who directed me in several pieces of physical or movement theatre.  Some days in rehearsing The Drowning Girls, directing is more like choreographing.  The physical pictures we create play such an important role, and I haven't worked on a piece like this in years.  So I draw a lot on my experiences with how Kim beautifully navigated work like this.  Kim is also one of the founders of Nightwood Theatre, so it's interesting because what I learnt from Kim's feminist politics have informed my approach to this material as well.   

I went to school at the University of Guelph in Ontario, graduating with a degree in Drama and Psychology.

Why do you feel it’s important to present this piece today?

Because we still live in patriarchy and it's important to understand how that shapes us. 

Come join us on one of three nights of The Drowning Girls.

November 18-20 – Following The Amish Project (approx. 9:30pm)
Pay-What-You-Think-Deserves (cash after viewing)
Pacific Theatre 1440 W 12th Ave. Vancouver
Directed by Ulla Laidlaw
Featuring Kim Larson, Jess Amy Shead, and Julia Siedlanowska
Set, Props and Lighting Design by CJ McGillivray
Lighting Design by Milly Mumford
Costume Design by Rebecca Burks
Stage Management by Monique Fillon
Assistant Stage Management by Diana Bartosh

ADVISORY: Contains descriptions of domestic violence.

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