Robert Leveroos brings two plays on destruction, rebirth and family to the Green House Basement at The Cultch

A still from Safe/Guard. All photos courtesy of Robert Leveroos.

Vancouver-based, US-born dancer and performer Robert Leveroos tackles the themes of destruction and rebirth, and family conflict and love in his pieces Safe/Guard and Feast

Both works that are completely told through movement, sound, lighting, tricks and magic, and stage pictures, are part of the rEvolver Theatre Festival taking place at the Green House Basement at The Cultch.

The Minnesota native encountered the primary inspiration for his one-man show, Safe/Guard few years ago during a trip to South Korea. He envisioned a small box he could manipulate, and wondered if he could keep frog or a spider, as a child would. Other elements conjured for this piece include gloves, water, wood, glass and metal.

In Safe/Guard, Leveroos follows a spider while a flood is taking over and everything and everybody left behind succumbs in to destruction. However, a glimmer of hope surges after the storm.

 “The whole destruction [part] of the piece is around the mounting of a storm, so [questions arise:] Where is the spider to find refuge? What happens in that refuge? […] and what happens to the world around it? The kind of chaos that ensues from everybody else left behind,” Leveroos said in a phone interview after rehearsals at The Cultch.

A strange Feast: balancing love and conflict with loved ones at a dinner table.

Feast, where civility and carnal instincts butt head at the dinner table, was born to complement Safe/Guard, since a 30-minute run made it made it very difficult to program by itself, Leveroos explained.

Finally, after two years, he was able to craft the piece in collaboration with dancer, Mirae Rosner.

Feast is a contemplation upon the intricacies of familial relationships at supper time.

“Feast is about family, it's about the way we care and love each other and struggle with each other at the very same time,” Leveroos pointed out.

The idea sprang from a strange image of two heads balancing on the edges of a table, which he found in a children’s book. Leveroos recognized the subtleties in this picture which thought were parallel to his own relationships with his loved ones.

“I thought 'you know what that's what family is, that's how I interact with my family ' and so that became a starting point.”

Thus, Leveroos and Rosner infused their own family stories into the narrative of the piece.

Feast was developed through contact improv and a choreographed dance on the top of the table, and as Safe/Guard, it includes different elements and textures, everyday objects such cutlery, plates and family heirlooms.

For this production, Leveroos morphed The Green House Basement at The Cultch into a 60-seat theatre to bring audiences to enjoy the shows as a way “to honour” the space for last time.

The historic Basement has been deemed as “unsalvageable” by the City of Vancouver and will be teared down in late June and replaced by new a building -- a situation that echoes Safe/Guard's theme.

“I thought it could be a really beautiful opportunity to see Safe/Guard in this space because of its [situation's] nature , the fact that is coming down and it does sort of mirror the idea of destruction and rebirth," Leveroos added.

 Safe/Guard and Feast (total run time 60 min.) will be playing from May 21 – 26 at The Green House Basement at The Cultch. Opening night: Pay What You Can.

For more information on tickets and schedule visit The Cultch website. 

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