Q&A: How a Halifax independent theater company got their show on the road and had the best summer of their life. | Arts + Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia


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NOTnot be that self-quoting person, but when I saw the spectacularly odd piece Hippoposthumus at the 2021 Fringe Festival, here’s how I explained the show to an actor that unfolds before me in a hidden pond in Point Pleasant Park: “There are maybe a handful of times in your whole life where Pablo Escobar and God may share a sentence, placeholders of equal weight in their respective creation mythos – and the Halifax Fringe Show Hippoposthumus is one of them. A piece examining the sense of belonging through the lens of invasive species, specifically the hippos that now inhabit Colombia’s Magdalena River Valley, a non-native species that Escobar unwittingly introduced into the ecosystem when he brought two into his domain. hippo show looking for a home.

As the aforementioned hippopotamus, actress Katherine Norris is tasked with not only entertaining the crowd, but also building a world, without props or costumes, while standing knee-deep in water. The physical environment is its only secondary actor. The show became such a hit that it was one of five shows at last year’s festival to win the Fringe Hit award.

This summer, Norris (who grew up in Dartmouth) put on his thigh high boots to reprise the role as the play toured the mainland of the province, making pit stops for performances in the Valley and on the South Shore , before returning to HRM. for two shows at Shubie Park at 7.30pm on August 19 and 20, as well as an encore in Chester on September 9. Writer and director Login Robins “emailed and called anyone with a park, anyone with a theater that would be willing to have us. And we’ve been creating this really fun tour over the last month. .I got to go to more places this summer than I’ve ever been any summer,” Norris told The Coast, speaking by phone. “I was a little scared to start the tour. because you never know: like, we are not supported by any major theater company. Sometimes no one will show up. But we always made the most of it. And we played in front of six people. We played in front of 90 people. I have never regretted a single performance.

Here, we asked the actor about reprising the play, taking the theater on the road and more.

The Coast: How has the series changed since Fringe last year?

Catherine Norris: We know or believe more about the series: Because, yes, it’s about a hippo that never felt out of place. It is an invasive species. But then, I don’t know if you felt like that too, but humans also felt a bit like invasive species. And we try to approach colonization a little more.

So the show didn’t just become about symbols, but, like: Being in that place where you know you’re the problem, but you don’t know what to do about it. I can’t find that Hippoposthumus it’s shoving it down anyone’s throat, saying “you’re the problem” or something. But it’s just sort of saying, ‘Hey, so it happens, even for me as a hippo. And I realized I had to do better, so maybe we can all do it together.

Click to enlarge Q&A: How a Halifax independent theater company got their show on the road and had the best summer of their life.

Stoo Metz

Norris in character during a performance of the play in Point Pleasant Park last year.


It just got a little more educational, a few more stories, a few more songs.

What’s been the best part of taking this game on the road this summer?

I feel like for me, personally, the best part was feeling like I was actually doing something for the summer. I feel like so many times it feels like the summer is flying by and you haven’t done anything. And I look back and I feel so, so lucky.

The show is outdoors and really uses the environment as the character of the room itself, but at the risk of moving to a whole host of different locations. How did you adjust to playing in a different pond or field each night?

We show up like an hour or two before and we’ll draw a very wooden box of a show, where it’s like “it has to happen here, on top of this hill.” It’s a bit of another aspect of the game with the environment.

There’s a whole moment in the room where I find my book – and it’s hidden in a new place for each location. It was really interesting because the pond itself was difficult to cross. And then all of a sudden, I’m able to move: Performing on the grass? There is no problem here. I can walk.

It can be nerve-wracking, but somehow we find a few little gems hidden throughout the show.

Click to enlarge Q&A: How a Halifax independent theater company got their show on the road and had the best summer of their life.  (2)

Stoo Metz

“It’s nice that the show can move and change wherever we go.”

When I first saw The Unnatural Disaster Theater Company taking this show on the road, I thought it was such a great idea. How did it happen?

[Show writer and director Logan Robins] I really wanted to do the show again, and we set it up with a few festivals. Then Kat McCormack of the Eastern Front Theater said, “No, not now. It won’t work here. It deserves to be outside. And apparently she suggested, “Hey, why not take him to different parks by a pond.”

And so Logan leaned into it and he emailed and called anyone with a park, anyone with a theater that would be willing to have us. And we’ve been creating this really fun tour over the last month. I learned to go more places this summer than I have ever been any summer. And it’s just been a really cool experience and it’s really changed our show: it’s nice that the show can move and change wherever we go.

Do you think this could be the start of more Halifax theater traveling to the province?

I hope so. I think there’s some good theater there that a lot of people don’t get a chance to see, because of their kids, because they can’t come to town, because it’s only ‘sometimes. And I think smaller productions like this, with really big meaning, getting it around the province (or wherever you can) could be made possible – and really cool and really fun.

I hope that if someone else goes on tour, they will also have the great experience that I am having. And like, we’ve stayed in motels and such. It wasn’t a glamorous lifestyle at all, but honestly, it was so much fun. And it was really great to do the show in a different way, because I was able to be much closer to the audience. When you’re performing in a theater, you know, the lights are in your eyes and you can’t really connect with anyone. But with these shows, I really feel like I can connect with [the audience] and look them directly in the eye. It’s a little weird, because some people aren’t used to it.

But I think it’s really cool and I think a lot of people would enjoy the show – or shows like it – more than they think. But I would really like to see shows that are probably played in places in Nova Scotia that I’ve never heard of or people would bring more shows here. People appreciate it. They would love to go to the theater.

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