Thursday, September 15, 2011

"I'm fascinated with the problem of art in the suburbs": Trevor Copp profile now up on Yonge Street

My education in different art forms and different parts of the city continued this August with some visits to Kitchener and Burlington to meet Trevor Copp, founder of Tottering Biped Theatre, one of the first--if not the first--contemporary professional producing theatre based in the City of Burlington.

Copp loves avant-garde theatre but also loves living in the suburbs/small cities surrounding Toronto. So he decided to bring the former to the latter.

An excerpt from the resulting article, published yesterday on Yonge Street:

At first, this August evening in Burlington's Optimist Park seems like a typical suburban midsummer night's dream: Two adult slo-pitch teams compete on a diamond, a passel of dog walkers stroll lawns and a few errant balls thwack softly into tennis-court nets.

But in a two-storey cinder-block building at the edge of the park, history is being made.

Inside, First Dance, one of the first—if not the first—professional contemporary plays to ever originate in Burlington, is premiering to a rapt audience. The chatty audience hushes as the house lights dim to reveal a man shaving—a ritual interrupted by the arrival of another man who carefully proceeded to dip, twirl and lift the first while shaving off the rest of his stubble.

Moving from this intimate moment to scenes set in salsa clubs, small-town backyards, Algonquin lakes and 1980s-era World Wrestling Federation matches, this funny, poignant play is far from typical summer stock fare. Tracing the story of a young gay man trying to determine a suitable "first dance" for his upcoming wedding, the production deals with same-sex marriage, homophobia, the politics of ballroom dance and (yes) real life in the suburbs.

"I've become fascinated with the problem of art in suburbia," says Trevor Copp, the performer and co-creator of Tottering Biped Theatre (TBT), which brought First Dance to fruition. "Suburbanites allocate their sense of culture to the city. They feel like we're just an adjunct of the city, that our life is just sort of a surrogate thing, a temporary life between commutes. And I have a problem with the sense that our stories are not legitimate."

For more, read on at Yonge Street Media.

(Image of Tottering Biped founder Trevor Copp and First Dance co-creator Jeff Fox via Yonge Street)

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