The Vancouver Island University theatre department is beginning its 2018-19 season with a play that takes a frank look at teenagehood and bullying.
Starting on Thursday, Oct. 25, VIU’s student actors will get to relive their high school experience as they stage the 2014 play Concord Floral by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill. The play follows a group of teenagers who discover a corpse in the abandoned greenhouse they use as a clubhouse. It’s a modern take on The Decameron, a work by 14th century Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio that tells the story of a group of youths taking refuge in an abandoned villa during the Black Plague.
“It’s intriguing because it’s got a mystery involved in it, which is kind of odd for modern theatre,” director Ross Desprez said. “The old kind of mystery dramas really don’t exist much these days.”
He said it was an ideal play to stage with a university cast because the actors are not far removed from high school themselves and can therefore better relate to their characters.
“In university a lot of the times a lot of scripts require somebody to be more mature… It’s hard for them to understand what it’s like to be 50 and you don’t want to do some heavy makeup job on them,” he said.
Desprez said ultimately Concord Floral is “all about bullying and the consequences of bullying,” and throughout the play the characters are confronted by their guilty consciences and have to come to terms with what they’ve done in the past.
“The characters in it are talking about common problems and anxieties that students have and they get to swear and they get to talk about things that are uncomfortable for students…” he said. “Stuff that you would read and go, ‘Wow, this is pretty out-there material,’ but the students, they glommed right on to it. I wondered whether they were going to be intimidated by the material, but they love it.”
WHAT’S ON … VIU theatre department production of Concord Floral comes to Malaspina Theatre from Oct. 25 to 27 and Nov. 1 to 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 31 at noon. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors. Available at the box office.