The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Live Five opens with a mix of humour and the bizarre

By in Culture

Arts Writer

Live Five opens their sixth season of independent theatre with an imaginative, dark whirlwind — Ground Cover Theatre’s debut of Dysmorphia. CoverB-GregReese

The production, which was developed in Saskatoon, was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Director Natasha Martina, a professor of movement and acting at the U of S, gathered together a group of creative and adventurous students to develop a piece based upon the disintegration of moral standards in exchange for physical beauty.

The company met for numerous brainstorming sessions and physical workshops to find a story they wanted to tell within the broad scope of the topic.

Actress and ensemble member Janessa Johnsrude explains the variety of the themes: “Fame. Obsession. Desire. Satisfaction. Gratification.”

With the aid and expertise of playwright Marcus Goodwin they were able to whittle everything down into a defined, contemporary story. A young woman, dissatisfied with her life, becomes seduced and eventually overpowered by advertisements. She chooses to undertake massive plastic surgery and learns a powerful lesson about the necessity of inner beauty.

While Johnsrude acknowledges that this tale has been told before, she explains that Ground Cover Theatre is taking a very different approach.

“We exaggerate it. We explore it in a dreamlike, dysmorphic state,” described Johnsrude. “It’s fantastical.”

For close to two years, the ensemble has been developing a physical score to heighten the piece.

“It’s not dance. We’re manipulating movement within time and space to convey things without saying them.”

This approach allows them to confront their grim topic with a sense of humour.

“It can’t all be ghoulish nightmare,” proclaims Johnsrude. “This woman’s life — this woman’s experience — parts of it are dark, parts of it are funny.”

The show also includes an impressive number of technical and multi-media aspects.

“It’s not conventional. It contains a wide spectrum of visual displays,” said Johnsrude.

This is something that Johnsrude believes will please younger audiences. “It will be stimulating for students to see something different.”

Another draw for the campus crowd is the cast. On stage Johnsrude is accompanied by Jacklyn Green, Jenna-Lee Hyde, Matt Keyes, Caitlin Vancoughnet and Darren Zimmer, all current students or alumni of the U of S.

“It’s locally developed talent,” says Johnsrude.

And we all know it’s important to support local.

photo Greg Reese

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