‘Time Tells’ brings modern story telling to RVA Event Space via Theater Lab
Devised theater is one of the most misunderstood theatrical genres.
Known for its lack of straightforward narrative and collaborative-based direction and production, devised theater has yet to be embraced by the theatric and artistic communities at-large. But to Heater Falks, director and collaborator of Time Tells a devised theater production by Theater Lab, opening this Friday at RVA Event Space, the genre and production itself can reach out to those outside the artistic realm.
“We certainly designed this show for our artist community,” Falks said. “But even larger than that. We wanted this to be our community, and everyone is so supportive of the arts here . . . This is our love song for Richmond.”
Time Tells is a multi-media production, featuring over fifteen artists, showcasing a wide array of talents by way of writing, painting and even original music, composed by Matt Treacy.
The piece also features several projection screens displaying various visual art. Falks, an adjunct faculty member at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community and Theatre VCU, said the piece is about “an artist being faced with a decision to make” and how said artist goes about making up his/her mind during a given situation.
But before the complex production opens this friday, it’s important to look back eight months earlier when Time Tells started with a much simpler idea.
“We all just sat in a room and started discussing art,” said Falks in regards to the brainstorming process. “ How do you tap into creativity? Cause it’s not exclusive to an artist.”
The group began meeting every Sunday to establish the production’s premise. Given the devised nature of the piece, however, the premise begin to morph over time. Michael Todd, a Sculpture major at VCU who plays the part of Cornell and represents “ a visual idea” in the mind of an artist ( i.e. painting), spoke of the ongoing development.
“It feels like in someways we’ve gone through several revolutions,” Todd said. “We’ve gone through so many peaks and valleys in terms of content generation.”
To some artists, having multiple opinions and viewpoints within a given piece seems daunting, the amount of creative input streaming throughout fifteen-plus individuals could potentially lead to conflict and misunderstanding if ideas are shot down or completely disregarded. But when you watch the cast of Time Tells on and off set, there isn’t a hint of divison to be found.
Everyone from the stage manager to the A/V personal are not only in sync with one another, they are almost family. Chelsea Burke, who plays the role of Amy, said the group “posed everything as a ‘What If’?” question, allowing every idea a chance to be heard.
“One of the things I always say is that I never want to be the smartest or the most creative or the most talented person in the room,” Burke said. “Because it’s all about sharpening against each other.”
That doesn’t mean the collaborators worked together in perfect harmony, however. Maggie Bavolack, who plays as an ensemble member, said there were impediments along the way, but the results which arose from those moments made for a stronger production.
“It’s been a challenge trying to communicate what you’re thinking of to someone who’s thinking of something else,” Bavolack said. “But when those two ideas really merge is when the exciting things happen. It’s the sparks that kind of ignite like fireworks.”
After eight months of writing and rewriting, reshaping and evolution, Time Tells continues to grow. Every performance will have its differences each night, as most theatrical pieces do, but Falks is quick to remind those who attend this is not your stereotypical sit-down-and-enjoy-the-show type of production.
“It’s not something that is very traditional in our theater community,” Falks said. “We’re hoping that they come in and they play with us and they enjoy the experience. It’s not so much a show as it is an experience.”
Time Tells opens this Friday, August 22 Additional performances are on August 23, 29, and 30 at the RVA Event Space.
Show time is at 8pm for each showing. Tickets are between $12-$25. You may purchase pre-sale tickets here.
Photo credit McLean Jesse
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