This is for the cast of Concord Floral—A curatorial statement by Joyce Rosario
December 01, 2016
This is for the cast of Concord Floral.
Each year PuSh rolls around, I am inevitably asked a question I dread as a curator: Which show is your favorite? Each year, I skirt around the answer. “It’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child,” I’ll say, or “It depends on the day and my mood, today I’d pick ________________, but if you asked me tomorrow maybe I’d say something different.”
This year, I can say unequivocally that Concord Floral is closest to my heart. I decided on this sometime in the fall, somewhere between the beginning of September (when I sat around a table at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts with Concord Floral director and co-creator Erin Brubacher and assistant director Erum Khan auditioning Lower Mainland youth for the Vancouver cast) at the end of October, when I turned 38. I contemplated a lot about what it means to be young, from a perspective of now being, well, not so young anymore.
Being in the room with these youth, hearing them read the script for the first time I saw a different, more beautiful part of being a teenager. I reflected on my own teenage years from a pushing-40 perspective. Until then, I didn’t have a particularly positive view about being a teenager. My thoughts about those years can be summed up as “It was awkward, thank goodness that’s over, I’d never go back.”
I still wouldn’t go back to my teenage years, and the theatre is a better way of doing it anyway. Those years contain the firsts for nearly everything we experience as humans—first love, first heart break—or, at least the first time we realize our own agency, that our actions have meaning and consequence. As such, focusing a story on teenagers engenders the kind of high stakes that makes such good theatre. And Concord Floral is most definitely great theatre.
And it’s beautiful too, but the kind of beauty that is so aching. You don’t see it when you’re in it, while you’re going through it, only afterwards in hindsight. I now understand that irritating phrases that adults say, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” It’s so true. Again, my mom is right.
Back in that audition room I was reminded of my teenage years in the mid-90s, those were the years that I fell in love with art, with theatre, with performance. It was the very beginning of the path that got me right here. In fact, it was a very similar—although quite a different project altogether—to the experience of the young people in Concord Floral.
What I have in common to those young people is that I too responded to a call to be involved in making a piece of art that was by youth and for youth, in a process that demanded critical thinking, that valued each of us as individuals. I see my involvement in bringing Concord Floral to PuSh as a way of paying forward what I was able to take part in so many years ago.
I’m grateful to the Concord Floral creators, Jordan Tannahill, Erin Brubacher and Cara Spooner, for creating such a beautiful structure to work with, and to the cast for bringing the project to life.
See Concord Floral, with a local cast of teenagers, in Vancouver January 25 to 29, 2017 before it goes on a regional tour to the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Surrey Civic Theatres. Children 15 and under can see the show for only $15! Buy tickets.