Art From Worlds Apart

Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s upcoming student-led productions challenge passion, discrimination and what it means to be a global citizen.

Behind the light of their computer screens, two bright Mount Allison student directors have been hard at work directing complex and beautiful plays. Although they take place worlds apart (both plot-wise and production-wise, as the rehearsals have been completely virtual) the Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s upcoming production connects them through the power of interpersonal connection and what it means to know the world around you. 

Fourth-year Drama Studies student Hannah Tuck is set to direct the first spectacle of the evening, Objects by Sophie Jacome. The play, which takes place in 1958, tells the story of Helen, who is an archaeologist alongside her husband and business partner, Richard. As Helen waits eagerly to be let into the presentation room where their findings are being presented by her husband, Richard’s secretary Rosemary joins her and keeps her company. As the evening unfolds, however, both women realize that there is more to their stories than meets the eye: As these two women challenge sexism, misogyny and homophobia (external and internal), they begin to understand the backward ways of the world around them and the power of their connection.

“In one of the books Neil [Silcox,Tuck’s mentor] has gotten me to look at in this process, it says that when a director chooses a play, it should feel like they have fallen in love, but for me it was a little bit different,” said Tuck. “It was like Objects grabbed me by the shoulders, shoved me around, said “Do something with me!” and it didn’t let go. So when it came time to send them a proposal, I knew that I had to do Objects.”

Tuck’s interest in directing was gained through taking the Principles of Directing course with Dr. Glen Nichols, and with the assistance of her mentor, Crake Fellow Neil Silcox, her passion and confidence of the craft continues to grow as she directs. 

Although she is proving to be a skilled director, the pandemic changed the gears of the productions. Originally planned to take place on the Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s studio theatre stage, the circumstances have given her a new stage and new challenges to overcome.

“It’s been really interesting to work with the actors who are all in their own individual spaces when meeting on Zoom a few times a week and we’re trying to figure out how can we take this collective energy and still feed off each other — we are all in different houses scattered around Sackville, and even then, we might not even be in Sackville on occasion,” said Tuck. “Directing in this way has been an interesting challenge.”

On the other side of the dramatic globe, fifth-year Economics student Frisia Li will be performing her devised one-person play, Dear World. The thoughtful and personal piece is based on Li’s experiences from her past three years of travelling and her views on global connections and her relationship with the world.

“We really should work together and see each other as one instead of being separated by races and languages and all that stuff… that’s not exactly reasonable, and that’s kind of unfortunate.” said Li. “So, I’m writing this piece in hopes that some of the stories that I am presenting and experiences I had in the past are coming from people, and to help them to see the world from my angle.”

Li’s piece has had some ups and downs, but she’s hopeful that the end result will be inspiring despite the difficulties with the pandemic. In fact, Li’s piece wouldn’t be what it currently is without the pandemic; with the difficulties that COVID has brought, what started as a show with an ensemble became a completely revamped one-person show. However, despite this beacon of light, Li has been faced with needless negativity through the pandemic too.

“This whole pandemic has really brought out the worst in a lot of people and so much hatred is going on. I’m Chinese, so I feel all of that,” said Li. “So, when I figured out my previous piece wasn’t going to happen I sat down and I realized this is probably the best time for me to, you know, reflect [on] my relation with the world and create a genuine piece that hopefully will touch some people’s feelings, and make a change in that sense.”

The largest difference between the two pieces is the spaces that they’re using. While rehearsals for Objects take place entirely over Zoom, Li’s has been using the theatre space for the past couple of weeks, as she is by herself for the entirety of the show. Although the theatre’s new socially-distanced setup has been a challenge for Li, she’s incredibly grateful to be back in the space.

Ultimately, these two young artists are creating different pieces of art. However, their passion for the craft and their dedication to the messages they’re bringing to the spotlight have defied the odds that the world has thrust upon them.

Both pieces will run from November 26 to 28 on Zoom.

Hannah Lucas
Hannah Lucas is a contributor to the Argosy.