Column: Small venue offers audience unique theatre experience

The Tablesaw Show features Jeremy Banks re-telling his up close and personal experience with a table saw

On Friday I was treated to a preview night of a new theatre show set right in the performer’s apartment.

The Tablesaw Show features Jeremy Banks re-telling his up close and personal experience with a table saw while renovating his apartment – the same place where the performance takes place.

It’s called site-specific theatre and it’s a bit of a trend in theatre circles right now – earlier this month, Western Edge Theatre performed The Dishwashers in the basement of Acme Food Co., complete with the smells and sounds of the kitchen above incorporated into the play.

Banks, who produced the Fringetastic theatre festival in September, wrote, directed and performed the monologue for guests seated in his living room. He also provided the refreshments.

Intimate is an understatement in these types of shows, as the audience is seated just a few feet away from the performer. As Ryan Swanson, who performed in The Dishwashers, explained, every movement from the actors is critical to the performance’s success. In other words, there’s no ability to cheat or slack off when the audience is right in front of you.

Banks’s show was slightly gory as he used props to recreate the trauma inflicted from a momentary lapse while using a table saw. The accident happened just as Banks prepared to leave for a cross-country adventure touring fringe theatre festivals and left him wondering if his plans would all come to a grinding halt because of one careless moment.

The venue and format allowed for extensive dialogue between the performer and the audience. Since it was a preview night, Banks sought constructive criticism on the show, but the talk-back session also allows for the audience to ask questions and add background to the story they just witnessed.

Banks said The Tablesaw Show is the first in a series of site-specific theatre productions.

Performances for The Tablesaw Show are Thursday and Friday (Nov. 17-18) and Nov. 23-25 at 8 p.m. Admission is by donation. For address and reservations, please e-mail jer@fringetastic.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com