Calgary-based not-for-profit Theatre Encounter is introducing a multidisciplinary live-art production based on Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The performance is a conceptual interpretation of the book.
“The designers have torn it apart to find the essence of what we believe is being presented through this book,” says director Michael Fenton, “and presenting it in the angles and forms of what we think it is.”
Carnegie’s book, published in 1936, remains a popular self-help book for developing the skills to win over those around you in order to get further ahead in life. The concepts in the book have laid the foundation for many modern management techniques and continue to influence today’s executive world.
What sets this performance apart from other theatrical adaptations of famous texts done by the company is the incorporation of multiple art forms within their exploration and interpretation of Carnegie’s book. The show incorporates both operatic metal music and Butoh — a Japanese movement style.
Butoh is a traditional dance based on the use of expressionist movement techniques.
Assistant director Val Duncan brought Butoh to the production after spending time in Sapporo, Japan learning the movement style.
For music, the company integrated several operatic metal pieces composed by Duncan and one of the actresses, Emily McCourt. The idea came from Fenton, who considers it a great sound accompaniment to contemporary movement and it was embraced by the cast as a way to contrast the physical movement to give the audience a wider experience.
Though these various forms of artistic movement and music may seem difficult to learn, Duncan emphasized the relative ease with which the actors were able to pick up both the dance style and adopt the music choice.
Beyond this show, Theatre Encounter focuses on interpreting classic books, theater, literature, poetry and self-help books with an alternative point of view. They concentrate on capturing a perspective beyond the everyday reader’s to make their productions enjoyably provocative. Duncan describes their methods as “an artistic response” more so than an analysis and says that in this case, what they’ve really done with the piece is react to it.
The show runs March 18–22 and 25–29 at 8:00 p.m. in the Art Box on 17E, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on March 22 and 29.