10 questions: Christopher Stanton

Photo by Ian Brown.

1) What the fuck is going on?
YOU TELL ME. And for god’s sake, take that thing out of your MOUTH – it’s been on the floor.

2) Most challenging production you’ve attempted?
Last summer UnSpun did a show called Don’t Wake Me at SummerWorks just 3 weeks (!!!) after closing Minotaur at the Fringe. Both were collectively created. Usually the process for a show like this would take MONTHS. We had three weeks. What the shit were we thinking? I did learn an important lesson in the process. In the past, no matter how rickety and under-rehearsed a show feels before it goes up, I’ve always told myself: “Things will fall into place. They always do.” And, in the past, things have, in fact, always fallen into place. And the show goes great. And I think, “See? Why was I so worried?”

But get this: apparently, things don’t always fall into place…

3) Seen any good theatre lately?
Here Lies Henry was fucking fantastic. From [Daniel] MacIvor’s performance to the lighting design to the sound design to the script – every single moment was so precise. So economical and integrated. And innovative, yet so, so simple. Same sort of feeling I got from Insomnia. [Daniel] Brooks’ stuff is such a visual treat – and has that same dream logic that I love about David Lynch. All the things I try so hard for when we create an UnSpun show, and it all looked so effortless for these productions. I was thrilled to see someone getting it right.

Just saw a staged reading of Possible Worlds directed by a Japanese contemporary of Peter Brooks named Yoshi Oida, with Irene Poole and Richard McMillan in the main roles. So good. It was simple and weird and lovely and unearthed a warm heart beating at the centre of the play. DIY’s production of Spain was also really enjoyable. Siobhan Power gave a layered and understated performance I particularly dug.

4) What’s the best thing to spend money on?
Happiness.

5) What should everyone stop doing?
Dumping on Kevin Federline. Hey, he was just a backup dancer trying to make it in this crazy world with a bit of help from Brit’s millions. No different than you or me, Friend. No different than you or me…

Christopher Stanton & John Cleland.
Production photo from Don’t Wake Me.
Photo by Brendan Gall.

6) What’s the best thing about theatre in Toronto?
The sense of community. The Indie theatre scene in the city is unlike the old guard in the sense that we realize we’re are all fighting the same battle. We share a relatively small audience for a major city. It’s dysfunctional to see each other as “competition.” I think emerging theatre companies realize that there is far more to be gained through supporting each other, sharing resources and talent, and creating common goals. And with some conversations I’ve recently had with other artists at the same point in their careers, I feel like we could be on the verge of some very exciting times for local theatre.

7) Johnny Depp or Sean Penn?
Penn. For sure. Although I’m a big fan of Depp’s weirdass choices, Sean Penn has a fundamental broken-ness that always pulls me in. There’s a scene in She’s So Lovely (not a terrific film) where Penn’s character, Eddie, is drunk, very drunk, in a bar – and he starts talking complete nonsense. But for some reason, because of the performance, it comes out as this strange, fractured poetry. For a moment, his brain is broken. I’ve only seen the movie once, and I still recall the chills I got watching it. He’s so fucking vulnerable. The guy’s a terrible, terrible open wound. And therefore awesome.

8) Who would you most like to work with, but haven’t yet?
There are SO MANY talented artists I’d kill to work with. But the top of the list for me right now would be Robert Lepage and/or Marie Brassard.

9) Do you have any unifying theories when it comes to directing?
It’s good not to blow all your screaming at the beginning of rehearsals. That way you still have some fury left in the bank come dress/tech day.

In real life, though – just this: Listen. There are so many forms of creation that are strong due to a single artist’s voice or vision. Theatre ain’t one of them. When I direct, I look at my role as being a co-creator, an outside eye, and a facilitator.

Christopher Stanton, Tricia Lahde, Shira Leuchter, Chris Hanratty.
Photo by Lisa Stanton.

10) What are you working on these days?
The second version of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a show we did in its first incarnation at the Fringe of 2005. We got a lot of really positive feedback on that version, and I thought it was quite good. But I’m really proud of this one. It’s strange and wonderful and pushes us in a lot of new directions, performance-wise. Brendan Gall directs Tricia Lahde, Chris Hanratty, Shira Leuchter and me. The whole creation process has been a treat – which is never a guarantee. You should get your ass out to see it, stranger. Runs to Dec. 16th at the Young Centre. You’ll be sorry if you miss it. (And yes, that is absolutely a threat.)