Curatorial Statement – Peter Panties
January 21, 2011
by Heather Redfern, Executive Director, The Cultch
When I decide to program the world premiere of a new work the factors that affect that decision are very different than when I am programming a show that has already been produced and that I have seen in the past. I began talking to Neworld Theatre and Leaky Heaven three years ago about the Peter Panties project. I had great faith in the artists and the Cultch has a long history with both companies and I wanted to work with them. In thinking about how the concepts and ideas for the show would fit into the Cultch program I envision it as a holiday show for families, one that might return year after year. This worked as a concept for the producing companies as well until Marcus and Niall began to do some serious development on the script. Marcus brought me videos of he and Niall working together. It was clear that the show was not going to fit into the original curatorial slot that I had hoped; it also became clear that the show would not be ready for the following season (2008/2009) as we had originally planned.
However I was intrigued with the method they were using to create the work, Niall telling the story to the camera and Marcus interviewing him and throwing out lines that the characters might say to create a dialogue for the story. Then Veda and Niall working together, the two of them were composing songs by singing back and forth to each other, and all of it was being recorded on camera. I became fascinated with this process and even though the context of the work within my program has changed, it was certainly no longer a family show and PuSh by then had expressed some interest in co-presenting, I decided to move ahead and program the show in the 2009/2010 season as part of our Cultural Olympiad program; however, that was not to be. Niall was hired to be part of the resident company at the National Arts Centre and there was not enough time to complete the show for that season so we moved it forward a year. Now, here was are ready to see what Peter Panties, after those three years of development, has become.
When I commit to programming a world premiere I am taking a greater risk than when I present a work that has been touring or is being remounted. I am buying into an idea and in this case a methodology of development without knowing what the final product will be. These shows need longer tech time in the theatre, which means they cost more and it almost never happens that the show is completely ready and fully realized in its very first performance. Every show requires further development after it first few performances in front of an audience. But when it works, the thrill of seeing a show being born in on Cultch stage is magical and I can’t wait for the opening night, the world premiere, of Peter Panties.