Arts

Vivi Sørensen is feeling the stress as she prepares for the final production of her MFA in directing. Photo: Parker Townes.

MFA directing candidate chooses unique play for final production

Second-year MFA in directing candidate Vivi Sørensen’s latest play is understandably difficult to describe.

“It’s basically about life but love and information, information being anything that’s tangible but also intangible,” she said before a rehearsal ahead of the show’s premiere on March 26.

“I don’t know how else to describe it — it’s very philosophical in some ways and feels kind of grand.”

Written by Cheryl Churchill and originally debuting in London seven years ago, Love and Information is a fragmented series of mostly two-person vignettes that sometimes sound more like poetry than human conversation. The production will be the final project of Sørensen’s degree, an experimental theatre experience she was drawn to because of its rawness.

“There’s some hurt, there’s some love … and that really spoke to me,” she said. “And the fact that it doesn’t really make sense — but I think it’s working out.”

Love and Information is divided into seven sections with scenes within those sections that can run in any order, giving the director a wealth of choice. There’s also a selection at the end of “randoms” — scenes that can be inserted anywhere into the play.

“We’re just in kind of a postmodern era of theatre and it’s really interesting not to do traditional English theatre,” Sørensen said. “It’s not Shakespeare … but it’s something kind of very modern.”

The nine actors of the production will play over 100 roles in 50 scenes, although there is no true main character.

“The play has a depressed person,” Sørensen explained. “And then there’s always one person who’s depressed (in the scene).”

That depressed person is like a main character, she said, but really “it’s an ensemble piece.” Sørensen said she hopes her production can stray from the stereotypical portrayals of mental health issues and de-stigmatize them.

“I think the main takeaway I’d like is some empathy with what we go through in life.”

From actor to director

This will be Sørensen’s third project while part of the MFA in directing program, which only accepts one English and one French candidate per year.

Sørensen is from Nuuk, Greenland, and previously trained as an actor in the Danish system.

“It just felt like the right transition for me,” she said of the switch from on-stage to behind the curtain. “I had known that that’s what I wanted to do.”

A member of Greenland’s Inuit community, she said she was compelled to properly tell the stories of Indigenous Peoples.

“My main reason for wanting to direct is the fact that our stories … are always told from outside. And I felt like there’s a misportrayal, there’s something that’s wrong.”

Her last production In the Unseen World, which Sørensen also wrote, addressed Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

But Love and Information is not an Indigenous-centred story, and allows Sørensen to explore another facet of herself as a director.

“As an Indigenous person sometimes I don’t necessarily have to do something Indigenous,” she said. “So for me it was like, “Oh I can do that and then I want to try to do this. How can I be more like a wholesome artist?’”

Very much a play of the now, and featuring the use of cell phones, Sørensen said this has also been a rare chance to direct something aimed at a younger crowd, students, rather than typically older theatre-goers.

“So I’m really hoping that this is something that won’t make sense but maybe feel like you recognize it.”

Love and Information will play from March 26 to 30 from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Academic Hall. Tickets are available online.