Melanie Reich talks ‘Miss Cosmos: The 53rd Annual Intergalactic Space Bride Competition’
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
This week welcomes the 28th annual Vancouver International Fringe Festival. From September 6 to 16, the Fringe offers a wide array of performances from some of Vancouver’s most talented independent up and comers. This year’s festival offers us an original production by several UBC and Douglas Theatre graduates, including one Melanie Reich, who spoke with us about her production company Bright Young Theatre and their first show, Miss Cosmos: The 53rd Annual Intergalactic Space Bride Competition.
“I… did a year of [general] academics [at Douglas],” Reich began, “[but then] I took an elective acting course, and I [decided to] take the [Theatre] program. Then I transferred to UBC, did their acting program. Now I’ve jumped right into this mentorship program with the Fringe, and started making [my] own theatre.”
Reich went on to start her own production company with her fellow graduates entitled Bright Young Theatre:
“It was two friends that I graduated with from UBC, and… Joanna [Williams], she graduated the year ahead of us from UBC and Douglas, and then one of our [other] members—our stage manager—is a production graduate, so she wasn’t in an acting program, but she [had] a stagecraft [background].”
“We signed up for the Onsite mentorship program… they take you through basically all the steps of making your own show. We came up with the storyline and we developed the show.”
“Once it came [time to say that] we were writing [Miss Cosmos]… [there was no room for] ifs, ands, or buts… it was do or die, and you couldn’t just be half committed.”
In terms of her experience as a Douglas theatre student, Reich had this to say:
“At Douglas, [the Theatre program] mostly focused on acting; the voice, the movement, and an actor’s process… when you first read [the script] and then how to memorize [it]. Douglas is amazing at teaching that process, and [it helps that] you’re very focused on the theatre. It definitely prepared me for UBC in terms of… acting.”
Reich also went into how important the process of learning teamwork was during her time at both Douglas and UBC. Collaborating with your fellow teammates, regardless of vision, is an incredibly important asset, so as to prevent each other from, in Reich’s words, “hurting each other physically or verbally.”
“Douglas and UBC really emphasized ensemble… working together for a common goal.”
As for the show itself, Reich said that they “wanted [Miss Cosmos] to be all ages… [we want] people [to bring] their kids to this, and enjoy it with them, because it’s a very silly, clownish, kooky idea, and we thought if we’re going that way anyway, let’s have everyone involved and enjoy that childish freedom.”
“There are four characters: three of them are the contestants, TicTac (Reich), YumYum Wingdings (Christine Bortolin), and Broushella (Jordan Kerbs), then we have the host, Pix Pax Deluxe (Joanna Williams). There are some pretty strange things that happen, and we have some very interesting talents. “
“One of the main themes… is accepting yourself, and not basing [your decisions] on what other people have to say. [The contestants are] all trying to be very likable to the humans because they want to live—so they all have a very good excuse for why they want to hide their flaws—but they have to let that go and realize [they have to live for themselves], and I think that’s an issue that’s timeless, [although] sometimes, especially now, it’s extremely relevant. The stress kids go through, and the anxiety and the depression… [they need to know] there’s no such thing as perfect.
“These characters are facing death—‘[be shot] back into space so you can get eaten by the black hole that [ate] your planet… or… conform to humanity.’ [But if] you talk about the immigrant experience, any experience, it’s all about learning how to [accept] everyone else, and that’s one of the things we take pride in; learning to get along with each other without having to become exactly like the other person. You need to make sure that there are some things that connect you, but you don’t have to be exactly the same.”
What: Miss Cosmos—The 53rd Annual Intergalactic Space Bride Competition
Where: The Water Park (1496 Cartwright Street on Granville Island)
When: September 7-16 @ 8:20 p.m.
Check out tickets.vancouverfringe.com for information and pricing on tickets