Langley families can enjoy an upcoming TWU theatre show from the comfort and safety of home.
WROL (Without Rule Of Law) is being presented by Trinity Western University early next month – in a COVID-friendly format that many theatre companies have had to adapt during the pandemic.
It’s a darkly comic coming-of-age story, explained Angela Konrad, theatre professor and WROL director. It’s a tale about strength and survival — led by the imagination and grit of four female tweens.
“The play’s mystery and humour, seriousness and optimism, strike the perfect tone for this time,” she said.
As the world faces climate crisis, racial unrest, and a pandemic, WROL could not be more relevant, according to Konrad, who described it as a “surprisingly apt choice for this season.
“When we chose it, the pandemic was underway but we did not realize how much it would still be our reality right now.”
WROL was written by Canadian playwright Michaela Jeffery, and first premiered in fall 2019.
“How intriguing and spooky it is when a play mirrors reality, she added.
“This play is absolutely perfect for such a time as this,” said Konrad, a TWU alum who directs for Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre and is the founding artistic director of Vancouver’s Dark Glass Theatre.
Konrad said she “can’t wait” to share this play with the world.
The play’s characters demonstrate that sometimes, the innocent are the wiser.
“Hearing the voices of these young people, who are paying attention to the world around them in a way the grown-ups aren’t, is inspiring,” said Konrad, who admitted making theatre during COVID-19 has been a test of creativity.
“Our goal was to rehearse like theatre and film it like film, in order to preserve some of the best of both media,” Konrad explained. “That worked out better than we could have imagined, even though we were making it up as we went along!”
Was social distance a hurdle for actors?
With proper health precautions “we were able to rehearse more-or-less normally,” Konrad said.
“The actors stayed at least six feet apart (except in instances where they are in the same bubble) and all crew wore masks.”
“We took regular rehearsal breaks and aired out the room. There were a couple places (where) we needed to adjust the movement suggested in the script to a pandemic reality; but it lent itself to that really well, so it was a pretty smooth process,” she said.
Hannah Nicolle, a fourth-year student seeking an arts, media, and culture major, is helping Konrad direct the play and is editing this film.
“This play is about a group of passionate, independent kids, who are used to not being listened to, finally taking matters into their own hands,” said Nicolle, who graduated from Langley’s own R.E. Mountain Secondary.
“It is about relationship, justice, growth, and love, with a dash of humour for good measure,” she said.
As for the play’s COVID-19 adaptations, Nicolle said, “I love getting the ability to put a stage show onto a screen. Making films is what I love to do, and to do so with such a talented cast and artistic director is such a privilege.”
Nicolle is up for the challenge.
“The fact that this is all new to us and we are all able to stumble through it together is what makes it fun.”
She is inspired by the strength of the play’s four female lead characters.
“They have such a heart for doing right by people society has wronged, and to see them grow in that journey and in their relationships really resonates with me.”
Actors shine in COVID-adapted theatre
“This play is about the fight between the collective power and individual power,” said Allen Qiu a third year student from Vancouver, who plays Robbie.
“It is also about giving young women a voice, listening to and trusting them.”
Qiu is also the play’s only male character.
“At times I feel like I’m in a Little Women production,” he admitted. Audiences can watch for the transformation of Allen’s character, Robbie, after he survives being inside “the pit.”
Lani-Marie Carbonel, from Coquitlam, stars in the play as Sarah.
A fourth-year student majoring in music and acting, Carbonel said: “This play is about not being afraid to use your own voice to uplift your beliefs and take care of the people you care about.”
Cassiel Cao, a fifth-year theatre major from China, stars as Jo.
“WROL is a revelation, especially for girls,” she said. “As I explored the story, I couldn’t help thinking about what kind of future we should create for ourselves and our children.”
Cao believes that the apocalyptic mood of the play surprisingly reveals a “possibility of redemption.”
After months of preparation, TWU students will share this COVID-adapted theatre with the world starting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. The opening night will include a behind-the-scenes featurette and Zoom talkback with the cast and directors.
Following the premiere, WROL is available via video-on-demand from Dec. 2 through 13.
For tickets or info, people can visit: www.twu.ca/theatre. Patrons will receive a viewing link and access code by email.
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