A production unlikely to fade to black
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Douglas College’s most recent production brings out a compelling darkness.
Blackout, by Davey Anderson, tells the story of a young Scottish boy named James. After waking up in a jail cell with no recollection of how he got there, James reflects on some of the dramatic changes to his life and behaviour since suffering from prolonged bullying at school. James’ background and situation is one known far too well, that of a seemingly innocent boy transformed into a darker version of himself. The production is dedicated to friends and loved ones who have lost their lives in part to instances of bullying.
Colin Amor, who stars as James, brings a rugged, youthful angst to the role. The ensemble cast—with the exception of Amor—embrace a variety of characters, from resilient mothers, to rowdy teenagers, to those working within the legal system.
Douglas College’s most recent production uses a non-traditional theatre setup. The audience sits on the stage, seated close to and around the actors. It makes for a personal viewing experience.
Deborah Neville, director of the production, created an intimate production. It is run with tight blocking, making each scene run seamlessly into the next. Neville helps distinguish scene from scene by having the actors pound their chests to recreate a heartbeat, and then draw a deep breath. There is not a moment where the actors leave the stage, requiring them to stay in a character the entire time. Neville has her actors employ a variety of techniques and skills, like drumming, singing, and stage combat. She also keeps the play authentic to its roots: Even though it could have been easily moved to any place in the world, Neville keeps it set in Scotland, and ribbons of Scottish culture can be found throughout the production.
The set for Blackout is a simple yet flexible one. Craig Alfredson, Set Designer, and Jaylene Pratt, Lighting Designer, help strip the production to its bare bones, while still keeping a believable scene before the audience. The use of multifunctional boxes—which work as storage containers for costumes and props while also serving as set pieces—allow for adaptability to the setting, and are able to be transformed into something new for the next scene within seconds. The lighting doesn’t only bring a mood to the stage, but also helps provide the setting in places like James’ bedroom.
Ines Ortner clothes the actors in a pliable base of simple shirts, denim, suspenders, and boots. Depending on the character the actor is portraying, they add pieces to better distinguish said character, such as a blazer for school or an apron for home.
Blackout runs from November 10–18 at the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre.