Theatre is Territory

10 questions: Evan Webber

evan-picture

Photo by Stu Wiber.

1) What the fuck is going on?
Small Wooden Shoe has just opened Dedicated to the Revolutions, and I’m thinking quite a lot about that. And there’s a depression and so on.

2) What’s the big idea behind the ongoing Small Wooden Shoe series “Dedicated to the Revolutions”?
We’re examining the peculiar narrative of Western Progress through a text that Jacob Zimmer was taught in grade eight: a list of seven revolutionary moments that changed the world. So we’re talking back to the list, and asking questions, and thinking about how that story makes our lives what they are.

3) How does art differ from science in its approach to understanding the world?
They’re both ways of describing the world, and ways of approaching what might be true. As such, they’re both immeasurably useful and dangerous. Science appears more systematic regarding its truth-making, but I’m not sure if that isn’t a veil. The more work we do, the less I’m able to tell the difference.

evan-v-printer

Photo by Ömer Yükseker.

4) When historians look back on the “Information Revolution” what do you think they’ll say was the most notable change that occurred?
Fermi’s paradox is about intelligent life in the universe – why, if the universe is so big –  aren’t there other ‘intelligent’ beings, like us, who’ve tried to communicate? The answer might be information technology – civilizations only reach a certain point before they blog themselves to death, leaving the stars lifeless and dark.

5) In your work as a writer and performer, how concerned are you with the tension between specificity and universality?
I’m not very interested in universality. It’s too arrogant. I think it masks a very legitimate fear of how massively different everything is. Specificity moves you into this fearful zone where things are more interesting.

6) What was one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make as an artist?
Admitting that a relationship is not working in the way one intended is legitimately hard, but people have to do that all the time. It has nothing to do with being an artist. Being poor is hard too – but many people are poorer than artists. Being a human is quite hard, but being an artist-human is an extremely enjoyable, privileged modification.

7) What do you think makes the Antigone story such fertile terrain for playwrights?
It’s another story about the West; it’s like Dedicated to the Revolutions in that way. It’s good at talking about the relationships between families and states, and conceptually, it inoculates the one with the other. It also feels true because it exposes the strain of conservatism under all radical positions, when they exist in time. It shreds up easy ideologies and vacuity alike, and it reminds us that some evils are necessary – which we all know, I think, pre-consciously, but which we sometimes forget.

evan_webber

Photo by David Hawe.

8) Of the approaches to acting you studied at the National Theatre School of Canada, which were for you the least helpful and why?
The strategies for collaborative, devised performance, were the most exciting and fulfilling and also the least helpful because, for years after, I thought that I knew the right way to make theatre.

9) How much does your experience with “theatrical performance” inform the way you approach your day-to-day “identity performance”?
Acting and creating performance is a good way to practice forgetting yourself, while still being with other people, and being attentive to them.

10) What are some of the questions that are on your mind these days?
How can people do things together? What is a person responsible for?

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