Interview with Bradley Moss

Dec 07, 2006

The cast and crew of Summer of My Amazing Luck recently returned from a Western Canada tour, performing at the Sunshine Theatre in Kelowna and the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg. Director Bradley Moss talks about the experience of touring.
Why is it important for Theatre Network to tour its new plays?
I think it is important to develop new plays both at Nextfest and at Theatre Network. Touring these productions helps to create a national profile and raise awareness that Theatre Network is creating new plays and contributing to the Canadian cannon. I would love to share more of our work in the future. We have several in development that could tour.
Touring Summer of My Amazing Luck was definitely a great opportunity for us. After going to Alberta Scene in Ottawa in 2005, we realized that we had a production that generates an enthusiastic response from audiences and artistic directors.
What are the challenges and rewards of touring a show?
The first challenge is fitting it to each space. That includes staging, lighting and sound. Each space has its own quirks and nuances.
The bigger challenge is to connect with the local audience, because they all have slightly different collective experiences and common reference points. Therefore each audience has a different viewing, or rather, a different listening perspective. It is our jobs to connect with them – maybe when they are not responding to something, we are not helping it to be obvious enough or the opposite we are being to aggressive with a moment. So the irony is that we (actors, designers, stage manger and director) are listening to the audience listen, and then we are tweaking moments to help those audiences to fully enjoy the show.
The most rewarding aspect of touring is the opportunity to meet new audiences, new crews, new artists. It’s very exciting. As well, the simple act of putting up the show is rewarding in itself. The challenges of landing in a new town or city and finding the set stuff that we need or just finding your hotel. Or in our case when Scott and I arrived in Winnipeg we had the kitchen table with us (four carts in total) and we were supposed to be picked up but no one was there. And we went to get a van cab and we are told that there is none available. So we had to improvise a little.
What elements of this play have you had to change to go on tour?
 The play was built with travel in mind because we knew we were going to Alberta Scene. We have changed some of the play but that had to do with Chris and I wanting to shorten act one a bit. We gave it a hair cut so to speak. As for the set and props – it is all there including our plungers.
Other than yourself, and the actors, who comes along on the tour?
 Scott Peters is with us, he is our production manager and as well the lighting designer. Scott and I arrive ahead of the actors and stage manger to put up the set, paint the floor, build the lighting cues, build the sound cues, and scroll through the show. Then the actors arrive and we have what they call a spacing rehearsal and we then run or tech sections that are difficult sequences for sound and lights and actors. We tweak the sound and light levels with actors in those spaces.
How much rehearsal time did you get in the Sunshine Theatre and Manitoba Theatre Centre before you opened?
 There is no rehearsal time. Or very little. We focus on getting the show ready for teching. We had two weeks in rehearsal before we left and then we had two days to cue the show in Kelowna. In Winnipeg we had an extra day for cueing.
Describe doing the show in Winnipeg.
 We definitely experienced the hometown effect strongly here, since this is where the story happens. I think there are perhaps some nuances with audiences here that will not be observed or felt in other cities because the audiences will have specific memories about the flood and the sorrows that it can cause the survivors. We had a chance to meet some of the real life folks that are characters in the story. It had a large impact on our production and allowed us to be more courageous and celebratory with the story.