New work produced by local creators is being showcased this month as an addition to Live Five Independent Theatre’s current season.
Elemental is a double bill of two new one-person shows: National Poetry Slam champion Danielle Altrogge’s On the Rocks and award-winning theatre artist Charlie Peters’ Many Fires. Premiering on Feb. 14 at Studio 914, located at 914 20th St. West, Elemental runs until Feb. 24.
The plays are being billed as “like nothing you’ve seen before,” fusing together artistic disciplines such as poetry, monologue, clown and puppetry and exploring gender, sexuality and healing.
Altrogge started writing her show On the Rocks — which she describes as a “spoken word-theatre hybrid” — in 2016 as a student in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).
“So this was my thesis project for the whole program,” said Altrogge, who is now employed as the executive director of 25th Street Theatre Centre, which produces Saskatoon’s annual Fringe Theatre Festival.
Altrogge’s play showcases a woman’s quest for self-discovery and explores hybridity, bisexuality, trauma, healing, depression, myth and maternal lineage. As the woman in the play learns that her experiences reflect those of mermaids in myths, she also finds that she is not alone in her experiences navigating sexual assault.
Altrogge said it’s been an interesting experience to see her creation come alive and be transformed through Elemental, and she’s excited to work with director Yvette Nolan and the other members of the creative team. Elemental is stage managed by Emma Thorpe and features performers Amanda Trapp and Charlie Peters, as well as designs by Jill Mack, Gilles Zolty, dj siminoff and S.E. Grummett.
“Charlie and I really lucked out and we managed to get our first-round draft picks, in all areas,” said Altrogge.
Peters, a Saskatoon-based actor, theatre and opera director, lighting designer, playwright, dramaturge, poet and clown, is artistic associate with Sum Theatre and founding director of Embrace Theatre, which is producing Elemental. His play, Many Fires, explores contemporary masculinity.
Altrogge describes the pieces in Elemental as “semi-autobiographical.”
“We’re taking real-life experiences and twisting them to make art, basically,” she said. “I think with Charlie’s, it’s the same thing. It’s a character, but it comes from rooted places of lived experience.”
Peters and Altrogge both attended high school at Aden Bowman Collegiate. As a result, they were already familiar with one another before collaborating on Elemental.
“We met in the drama department. He was a grade younger than I was, but we were in the same creative writing class. And that’s kind of where we first started exchanging poetry and creatively working together and stuff like that,” said Altrogge. “It’s kind of neat to see this all coming together — this decade in the making.”
After high school, Peters and Altrogge both attended USask, where Peters obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting. Perhaps it was inevitable that the theatre artists would work together on a project like Elemental — especially since their plays complement each other through their themes, interdisciplinary sensibilities and elemental imagery. In fact, Altrogge now can’t imagine the two shows existing apart from one another.
“I think it’s also so much less scary putting something on when you’re together,” she added.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, go online to livefive.ca.