And foul language.
And you can drink beer during the show.
Yes, it deals with what playwright Megan Coles feels has once again become a taboo issue (or worse, one that is believed to have been “fixed”) in our present day culture, domestic violence. And yes, she expects it to raise the issue up and out from under the rug so that people can once again start talking about it and empowering one another to overcome it.
But Coles made it very clear during my conversation with her Monday evening as we overlooked the construction of the play’s cleverly detailed set, this is not solely what The Battery is about. Far from it.
Coles calls it her friendship play. What weaves the story together are the relationships between the characters; how they connect with one another, learn from one another, depend on and support one another.
The Battery, which is being staged at the upstairs bar of The Republic, is Poverty Cove Theatre’s first production, and it’s not by chance that it’s being produced outside of the traditional theatre space. Part of Poverty Cove’s mandate is to create theatre that is accessible to everyone. To do so, they will bring their productions to almost anywhere — except a theatre, which can be an alienating space for someone who has never ventured into one before.
Poverty Cove, co-founded by Megan Coles and Shannon Hawes (photo, left to right), is also about capturing the essence and atmosphere of a space, as opposed to simply its physical nature, and incorporating that into their production. So while they wouldn’t use the actual bar as the set of their bar in The Battery (fortunately that bar will be serving drinks, and you can enjoy your beverage during the performance), having the production staged within that space still gives you all the sites, the smells, everything our senses expect from and are met with in a bar.
Of course, stepping outside the theatre presents a whole slew of challenges, from finding the right location and gaining access to it, to electrical and technical considerations, to where to put your audience and what to sit them in. And you have to repeat those challenges with every production, since each one will take place in its own, unique space fitted to its themes and ideas.
Not that this in any way deters Coles and Hawes from pursuing their mandate. They’ve learned a lot from getting their first production off the ground, and if anything the experience has only served to encouraged them.
After all, The Battery sold out its opening night performance before a single poster went up or Facebook page had been created. You can now add Saturday’s closing night performance to the list, with the remaining performances filling up quickly.
So clearly there’s a demand for this kind of theatre.
Both Coles and Hawes were keen to point out that The Battery is being co-produced with RCA Theatre, which has been a huge help in making their first production a reality. From here, Poverty Cove plans to produce two productions a year, all of which will be first time stagings for a Newfoundland audience, and of course will not take place inside a theatre.
The Battery opens Wednesday, April 13th at 8pm and runs until Saturday, April 17th when there will be both a pay-what-you-can matinée (all proceeds will go towards Naomi Centre, which offers shelter and assistance to homeless woman aged 16 – 30) and an evening performance. Thursday evening’s perfromance will be proceeded by a talk back facilitated by Shannon Hawes and featuring Megan Coles and director Emma Tibaldo.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the RCA box office, ordered online, or purchased at The Republic on the night of the show. If there are any left by then, that is.