"THEATREboom: We'll get you laid," laughs Joel Smith, forefather of the small band of Calgary players, THEATREboom. Whether or not the boomers were joking about approaching friends who had come to their shows with dates and thanking them for never-made suggestions that greatly improved the performance, the notion accentuates one thing about the rag-tag Mount Royal College graduates: their youth.
"This time around, we decided to focus in on our generation, which is who we produce theatre for," says Smith of the boomers' latest project, Re:Generation. "What it developed into was that which we inherit, that which we experience, and that which we leave behind. We've broken it down into a number of sub categories, too. Like 9/11, a bus blowing up, falling in love on a playground... and then we might just throw something ridiculous right next to it, like the story of a boy with a tail."
Re:Generation found it's roots in Alberta Theatre Projects' Generations Project almost three years ago. After being approached by ATP's artistic director, THEATREboom, as well as a handful of other local thespians, set out to create a performance that was different than anything else ATP produced up until that point. Two plays came out of the project, each reflecting a different generation's perspective. The play THEATREboom produced showcased two brothers' struggle to cope with the death of their father. While the play wasn't unsuccessful, the trope decided to scrap the script in favor of applying the techniques used in its creation to a new project.
"[Re:Generation] has been created in the scariest possible way," says Smith. "We just got a group of people together, started from scratch, and generated material."
The resultant smorgasbord of theatrical content has trappings of absurdist, epic and post-modern styles, among a variety of others. While it's easy to slap academic buzzwords to any piece of art, Smith is adamantly opposed to the pseudo-intellectual labeling scheme, and all those who would try to dissect the boomers' theatrical amalgamation.
"We're not doing this to be self-indulgent," insists Smith. "We don't want to stand on stage and jerk off all over you. We want to make something entertaining, something people can get engaged in. At the end of the day, it's going to be one of the more unique things people have seen in Calgary."
While Re:Generation lacks any single overarching narrative thread, Smith insists that the smaller, self-contained narrative arcs are enough to keep the audience interested in the ideas being splashed all over the stage. In a way, the performance functions as a theatrical version of a late night variety program like the Daily Show, less the straight-up societal commentary.
"It's about the experience of the individuals as they journey through the piece," explains Smith. "When we do comment on stuff, it's just about taking that moment and flipping the coin to address how that affects the human feeling or the human condition, rather than something esoteric or political."
Harking back to the days of vaudeville, the Re:Generation project represents a re-thinking of traditional dramatic performance, even if it's just an 'old-is-new' mentality. With theatre generally regarded as a an ailing art form, the new approach could be a step in the right direction for the discipline as a whole. Regardless of their disregard for theatrical tradition, one thing remains constant with THEATREboom: they'll get you laid.
THEATREboom's new show, Re:Generation plays in the Motel at the Epcor Center for Performing Arts starting June 7. Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. Whether or not you get laid is up to you, cowboy.