Think back to Fringe 2014 and you’ll probably remember the company that everyone seems to have been talking about: Toy Guns Dance Theatre.
And with shows like Propylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, Retinol Palmitate, and Other Words I Don’t Understand Like Love and Red Wine, French Toast and the Best Sex You’ve Ever Had (that’s just two shows for those of you trying to keep up with the long titles), it’s easy not to know what to expect next from the company, which has been around for less than two years. To kick off 2015, they’ll be premiering their new work, Fortuitous Endings (What To Do When You Wake Up Drunk in a BBQ Cover in Your Neighbor’s Backyard) at Canoe Theatre Festival, January 28 – February 1.
Toy Guns’ Executive Director Richelle Thoreson describes the piece as being about, “The unintentional harm done in relationships as they’re unraveling.” Artistic Director Jake Hastey is a little more verbose: “The piece falls under a space of time when those first moments start to happen where you notice you’re not being your best you to a person. It’s not that you’re outright mean… but it starts to slide a bit and later on you have that recollection in your head like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t have done that a few months ago or a couple years ago.’… It’s looking at those moments of friction where there’s a good person and a bad person… [In] each of our scenes there’s something that happens, but there’s also a complete justification for why that person would do that and why it wasn’t a wrong decision.”
While Canoe Theatre Festival will be the premiere of Fortuitous Endings, an earlier incarnation of the show was workshopped at a 2013 work-in-progress show hosted by the Good Women Dance Collective. Among all the lessons showcasing Fortuitous Endings yielded, Jake says the biggest one was, “That we had a hope in hell of doing something!… [Leading up to the performance] it’s like, I think I love it, but maybe nobody else does.”
Since that 2013 workshop, Fortuitous Endings has grown into a fully-fledged two-act show. “We had three pieces in that [workshop performance] which are somewhat intact in this version, just with slightly different motivations and performers in some cases, which has lead to different interpretations of it… One piece that made no sense and threw everything – it was 5 minutes of visual metaphors and beautiful symbolic work that didn’t fit together at all – has been torn apart and become 30 minutes of material and developed into some really lovely scenes.”
Despite the evolution of Fortuitous Endings though, the idea of exploring the process of a relationship being broken down and re-examining the perspectives of each side has remained constant and, as Jake says, is present in a lot of Toy Guns’ work. “Most of the work for me is about perception. For my whole life, even as a child, I was never able to see an argument from one side. I was a disaster. Someone would say, ‘You’re wrong’ and I’d say, ‘Are you sure? Because here’s what I was thinking and what I saw and here’s what someone else did and what someone else did. And I see what you mean, but I’m not sure I agree with that part of it, but I think this part is right.’… It’s easy to see things one-dimensionally but I think we’re past that as a society. There’s too much information at our fingertips to ever look at someone and go, ‘You’re wrong!’ without asking why they think that and how they got there.”