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Courtesy Dean Mullin

Enter the “splash zone” with Theatre Encounter’s gory SPURT OF BLOOD

By Gurman Sahota, March 7 2017 —

Being deemed “unstageable” may perhaps be the motivation behind Theatre Encounter’s production, SPURT OF BLOOD, written by French playwright Antonin Artaud.

Presented from March 22–25 at Theatre Junction Grand, the show seats only 14 audience members at a time and immerses each patron in music, dance, physical movement and projection.

Dealing with subjects such as infestation, animalistic urges and a world that is torn apart by vengeful gods, the hour-long production is a surreal, bodily performance. Theatre Encounter producer and performer Val Duncan says the show opposes the traditional reliance on dialogue and stage directions to guide the plot to fruition.

“[SPURT OF BLOOD] is considered unstageable because it contains content that is practically very difficult [to present],” Duncan says. “For instance, a giant spurt of blood — things that are very hard to technically to achieve [on] stage.”

The use of Artaud’s only published play also sticks to Theatre Encounter’s mandate — to approach historic texts and to revitalize them in an experimental production. SPURT OF BLOOD follows Artaud’s theory of the “theatre of cruelty.”

“[Artaud was] very preoccupied with the notion of the body, reminding audience members of the body they live in,” Duncan says. “So much of theatre is ‘neck up’ and Artaud’s theatre speaks to all the senses, the guts of the audience. It is very expressive, very loud and becomes very confrontational.”

Artaud’s fascination with the subconscious arose from his argument that western theatre was narrow in scope and used language and examinations of psychological suffering as a crutch. He created the theatre of cruelty to do away with the traditional distance between
performance and audience.

Theatre Encounter will present SPURT OF BLOOD to a group of only 14 patrons at a time. Each audience member is seated on stage, separate from one another as the play is performed around

“[The goal is to] really immerse the audience [in] the way the staging is set up, to perform the play around the audience,” Duncan says. “To have chairs separated [and for] everyone to sit separated in the middle of the stage.”

The play also features a four-piece ensemble that trains year-round at Theatre Encounter.

Multimedia, dance, music, projection and physical movement have been vital to creating SPURT OF BLOOD.

“With this piece in particular, because [we] have projected imagery on all sides of the stage and on the floor [it] makes it very immersive to audience members,” Duncan says. “As a performer, [I] still have to find those answers to the questions Artaud is asking, through the  manifestation [of his work].”

SPURT OF BLOOD also carries warnings of highly subversive content and its visceral production may make some patrons uncomfortable.

SPURT OF BLOOD will run from March 22–25 at 8:00 p.m. at Theatre Junction Grand. Ticket prices vary.

For more information, visit theatrejunction.com

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