A Tale of Love, Betrayal and Stolen Body Parts
September 25 - 29
Studio at Vertigo Theatre
While Pink Sugar suggests a cotton-candy-like confection of a play, Theatre BSMT’s season opener is anything but. The subtitle of said play — A Dark Tale of Love, Betrayal and Stolen Body Parts — is a not-so-subtle hint at the dark material involved.
At the centre of Pink Sugar is the issue of organ trafficking. Written by Mount Royal University associate professor Natalie Meisner, the piece follows the “trajectory of a stolen kidney, from unwilling donor to black-market buyer.”
Theatre BSMT artistic director Amy Dettling says the narrative is told through five interwoven monologues involving Spencer (Kyall Rakoz), a young man travelling on his own through Europe. He meets, and falls in love with, Elan (Sylvia Niederberger). She drugs him in order to steal his kidney, which then makes its way into the hands of organ trafficker Sylvie (Laryssa Yanchak). The recipient of said kidney is a lawyer, Max (Paul Sutherland), whose youth consisted of being hooked up to a dialysis machine.
The innocent sounding “pink sugar” refers to the smell of chloroform.
To lighten the otherwise heavy show, Dettling says the kidney has a speaking part (voiced by Nick Johnson).
“The character of the kidney is animated on a large projection screen. He dances, he sings, he has a funny voice,” she says of the “black comedy” component of the production.
Theatre BSMT last produced a play back in June of 2010. Incidentally, it was another piece by Meisner — Before the Tide.
“I just love her work. I love how she takes morbidity and makes it eloquent through her writing,” says Dettling.
Pink Sugar will make its Alberta première with this production in Theatre Junction Grand. (The show was previously produced in Vancouver.)
“We’re really pleased to be able to do a show in their space. They’ve [Theatre Junction] shown an interest in our company, and they’ve been helping us out,” says Dettling.
As evidenced by the production gap, Theatre BSMT has been on hiatus for a couple of years, during which time Dettling says she and her team worked to secure funding for the company in order to produce a full season of plays this year.
Theatre BSMT’s season will see four projects — in addition to Pink Sugar, it will stage The Underpants (an adaptation by Steve Martin of a 1910 German farce) on location at Calgary’s historic John Snow House; Dennis Foon’s War is on the bill for next spring; and, finally, a full production of the winning play from BSMT Dwellers, the company’s playwriting competition, which runs until November 30.
Dettling says one of the company’s mandates is to support emerging artists, and it will employ more than 20 for the four productions.
In addition, a professional mentor will work with each production. Pink Sugar’s mentor is Jane MacFarlane, while Mark Bellamy, Kelly Reay and the Alberta Playwrights’ Network round out the list.