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U of C collaborates with Downstage in theatre production Magnetic Bodies

By Ansharah Shakil, April 6 2024—

Co-produced by Downstage and the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts (SPCA), theatre production Magnetic Bodies will be showing at Motel Theatre in ArtsCommons from April 5-7. Magnetic Bodies depicts the experiences of eight individuals, connecting these separate stories to portray a meaningful and magnetizing journey in a celebration of teamwork.  

“[The production] deals a lot with how we can overcome a problem that we’re faced with. The world we create can be applied to many situations,” said Anthony Trotta, a co-creator, performer and student at UofC.

“Considering we’re still in a post-pandemic society, our play definitely explores a lot of themes about connection and longing for connection,” added Kali Hayer, another co-creator, performer and student involved in the production.

Bianca Miranda, Associate Producer, explained the importance of the students collaborating with a professional company like Downstage. As a former UofC student, they would have appreciated having this kind of opportunity when they were in university.

“Being immersed in the professional world and being able to tell your stories in the way you want to tell your stories is so significant as an artist,” Miranda said. “[These artists] had ideas for the show and are seeing themselves do it from the inception of an idea down to the production.”

For fellow students who have a passion for the arts, or are interested in pursuing a career in the field, Hayer and Trotta encouraged students to continue following their creative outlets and to think about their audience.

“Just keep writing and keep trying to find opportunities to share your work,” Hayer said. Your own experience is so relevant and valid, and drawing from your own experiences as an artist and putting that out into the world [is] something I would suggest. Finding things that are close to your own heart, and putting that out there.”

“Finding an audience for the art you want to put out is super important, and I think that’s how you make connections with other artists,” said Trotta.

Part of what Magnetic Bodies is about is sharing the kinds of stories that draw artists to work on their passions in the first place.

“I truly believe everyone has a story they want to tell and I feel like finding what kind of medium you want to tell it [through] is really important,” Miranda said. “There’s so much art happening in this city. It’s so important to go out and just immerse yourself in the creative industry here because that’s where you [go] ‘oh, that’s what I want to do.’”

The collaboration process between the students and Downstage has created a creative and fascinating final product. It allowed both sides of the equation to share different ideas, with the freedom to explore all of them, as Trotta pointed out. 

“You can see all eight of us and even the Downstage team’s art in this show,” he said.

“This experience has definitely been just trusting my castmates around me and our whole team and […] uncovering the story as we’ve gone through rehearsal,” Hayer said. “A whole world has unravelled itself before our eyes.”

Trotta added that the collaboration process revealed different skills, beyond creating and performing, that each person added to the show, such as costuming, sound design, lighting and poster design.

“Having the experience to wear many different hats in a production is super valuable, especially going into a professional career,” Miranda agreed. “I feel like there’s something so magical about [how] every process calls for something new and different. There’s just this kind of buoyant, generous energy with everyone in the room.”

When asked to describe the show, Trotta said it was markedly different from traditional theatre shows, with a unique approach to how the story is told.  

“It showcases all of your different talents and I go back to the word generosity: there’s a lot of lending a hand, a theme in the show, passing on, like we’re highlighting Anthony in this moment, Kali in this moment. It just feels like a very organic, generous show,” Miranda said.

Another interesting aspect to the show is the roles of the actors themselves. 

“A lot of times as an actor you’re pretending or you’re trying to represent something else, so getting the chance to represent your own voice and your own story has been so unique,” Hayer said. “We’re all coming from different backgrounds and different experiences [and] getting the chance to play with our own words and ways of writing. [That’s] what makes the show really different. This show has made me ask a lot of questions about the world, my own relationships, what I might be scared of, what might be blocking me from seeking connections with people, and I would encourage people to attend because of those questions. There’s something each audience member will be able to connect with.”

Highlighting and supporting this kind of artistry, especially from young people and students, is Downstage’s exact purpose. Through the company’s Pay It Forward Program, tickets are available at no cost to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. No questions are asked for why anyone chooses to use the Pay It Forward program, and there remain tickets for the rest of the show’s run for those who need it. 

“Theatre deserves to be seen by everyone,” Miranda said. 

More information and tickets for Magnetic Bodies, including the free ones in the Pay It Forward Program, are available on the Downstage website.

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