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Electric Company's Initiation Trilogy a moving feast of visual imagery, poetry and theatre

Colleen Wheeler, Emma Lindsay and Wendy Donaldson tell poetic stories through a secret journey.

Part treasure hunt, part art installation, part poetry reading, part theatre experience, Electric Company’s Initiation Trilogy is an evocative happening. Presented with the 25th Vancouver Writers Fest and Boca del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series, this three-part experiential and physical journey runs till October 28 in secret locations around Granville Island.

Arriving at the first destination to pick up your coloured card that will divide you into groups, a projection on the ground announcing Boca del Lupo’s involvement offers a spooky tingle. Led to a secret lobby, the books of poetry, source material for the evening, are set around a table along with crafting possibilities. As men and women sit around chatting and cross stitching, our guide Stephanie, gathers us up to take us to our group’s first installation.

Like the jerk that tells their friends the end of a suspenseful movie, describing the  three sections of Initiation Trilogy is just not fair. The installations vary in execution. Each thoroughly explores the text based on provocative poetry collections by Jennica Harper (What it Feels Like for a Girl), Elizabeth Bachinsky (God of Missed Connections), and Marita Dachsel (Glossolalia). Dachsel also provides script that offers transitions within the sections.

The process started a year ago in brainstorming sessions with director Anita Rochon, Electric Company Artistic Director Kevin Kerr, a co-creator alongside playwright Marita Dachsel, and Electric Company’s resident designer Naomi Sider. The longevity of the gestation period and the creative minds and talent of the collaborators has produced an event that sticks with the viewer long after the performance is over.

 The visual designs and sound designs are equal to the theatre aspects and provide an experience that metaphorically and atmospherically create magic. Pam Johnson and Naomi Sider (scenography), Cande Andrade (projection), Jonathan Ryder (lighting), Owen Belton (sound), do a job worthy of any art gallery.

Stellar performances

The performers are stellar. Making poetry come alive to travel through a narrative journey takes great skill. With Rochon’s deft hand at the helm, Wendy Donaldson, Emma Lindsay, Jennifer Paterson, Haig Sutherland, and Colleen Wheeler make the audience interaction inclusive and engaging. Donaldson and Wheeler in particular resonate with wisdom. Their performances elevate the words to heightened language while seeming like they’re a friend talking in your living room.

Rarely do I leave a performance event feeling touched emotionally, fed artistically and excited like a little kid. Initiation Trilogy provides that in spades.

 Initiation Trilogy runs till October 28, Tues-Sat at 7pm with Fri-Sun matinees at 3pm.  Tickets $26 with a $2 discount for Writers Fest members. 

Check-in at the Anderson Street Space (1405 Anderson Street, Granville Island).  Very limited capacity.  Avoid disappointment by booking ahead: Electric Company's last run in Vancouver sold out before the first performance.  Book at vancouvertix.com, by phone at 604-629-VTIX, or in person at the Granville Island Stage box office next to the Public Market.

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