Allison Kelly and Mitch McGee Herritt
The ladies of Engine Productions have a simple goal: to take any obstacle in front of them and turn it into an opportunity for creativity.
“We’ll look at it as an incentive and encouragement to challenge ourselves as artists, and also to encourage other people to look at that,” explained Jenn Brown, one of the theatre company’s three founding members.
Brown said she, Kimberley Drake and Laura Huckle, all theatre graduates from MUN’s Grenfell College, established Engine last fall as a way to encourage people to get back to the spirit of creating art in the first place: to share it.
Because of the constant struggle to obtain financial support in the arts, Brown said, the trio took a do-it-yourself approach, creating and sharing the resources they already had, and put together their debut production: “Just to Love,” opening tonight at the LSPU Hall’s Second Space.
“We pooled our resources and decides to make a show,” Brown said. “As emerging artists, we just want to practise our craft and try things and put outselves out there and experiment, especially with other like-minded people. We didn’t want to not be working in theatre just because there weren’t enough roles to go around or because maybe we didn’t get cast in one particular show. We wanted to remain active in the theatre and arts community in St. John’s on our own accord.”
“Just to Love,” written by Huckle, is a dance theatre piece that’s eclectic in every aspect: there’s ballet, hip hop and modern dance choreography; bits of poetry and Shakespeare; and all types of music, from soft ballads to Nina Simone remixes. Some of the show’s performers are classically trained in theatre, while others have more of a background in dance.
You won’t be able to tell who’s who, Brown said.
The production tells the story of a couple, played by a number of different performers.
“It starts from when they first meet to their first sexual encounter, to a later point in the relationship where they’re struggling with monotony and things being dull, to inevitably having to say goodbye to one another,” Brown explained. “It’s all these really complex twists and turns in the lives of this one couple.”
Engine’s lack of financial support was a surmountable problem, since the three women quickly learned how close and generous the local arts community is. People were more than happy to help out, and the show’s cast, and crew are all volunteers.
The goal is not to necessarily keep it this way, however.
“Fair working wages for actors and artists is a must, and we’re were tired of seeing talented people not create due to money. So we are hoping to build up this company to help people move past this barrier via inventive and resourceful approaches,” Brown said.
The members of Engine Productions have another main stage performance in the works for the fall, and hope to develop creative writing circles and other opportunities for writers and artists to share ideas on a regular basis.
“Just to Love,” written and choreographed by Huckle and starring Brown, Drake, Mitch McGee Herritt, Ciaran Dyke, Clare Hewlett, Shawn Walsh, Stephen Quinlan, Dylan Brenton, Allison Kelly and Joshua Druken, runs tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., as well as a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets for the
45-minute long show are $10 and can be bought at the door one hour prior to showtime.