TheatreLAB’s ‘The Altruists’ puts the spotlight on modern slacktivism
In a world where it’s just as trendy to use a hashtag to protest something as it is to get a mustache finger tattoo and instagram a heavily filtered photo of your morning coffee, are there any true activists left? That is the question Nicky Silver, author of The Altruists posed when he wrote the play in 2001.
Granted back then the Idea of “Slactivism” was a new one, but boy has it taken off. Luckily for Silver his point is still a very relevant one.
And lucky for kb saine, she is directing this dark comedy in a city that has huge hipster population. When Richmond audiences come to TheatreLAB for the show they are sure to at least see someone they know in the characters of this play.
Scarier still is that they may see some of their own less than desirable personality traits being acted out before them.
The Altruists is a show about a group of five young people who consider themselves to be champions for some very important causes. The trouble is that, while they fight for equality and a better life for strangers and for people half a world away, they treat each other like shit. Plus, when they aren’t treating each other poorly, they are pretty busy being extremely self involved.
Everyone knows (or has dated) someone like this, a passionate blogger who preaches about stopping cultural appropriation but can never seem to remember your birthday.
This show has no discernible leads or or supporting roles. It is an ensemble cast and all the characters have to work off of each other in order for this to work. With that in mind, saine was certainly the correct choice for directing this production.
“I like to treat every process like an ensemble process because to be honest every single person is on stage and when they are on stage they need to be invested.” saine said that treating each character with equal importance has been a winning strategy thus far in her directorial career.
“There is an interesting social commentary about what we believe in, and what we are willing to fight for, and whether or not we are actually walking the walk that we talk.” Said saine, and while the show does have a definite message its primary focus is simply to make the audience laugh. saine went on to describe the rehearsal process, much of the time was committed to timing and making sure all the jokes were landing.
However there was one rehearsal that was funny for an entirely different reason.
“Last saturday we spent four hours doing nothing but making sure everyone taking off their clothing was perfectly timed for the sex scenes.” Said saine “Everyone was so good natured and we had so much fun. There was just as much giggling as there was real serious work getting done, It was very fun and tongue in cheek afternoon.” So if comedy and social messages aren’t your thing, perhaps the promise of some sexuality will draw you in.
The Altruists opens July 24th and runs through August 8th. For ticketing information vist www.theatrelabrva.org
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