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Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Person: Ryan Thom of C'est La Vie Theatre

Sarah Mahoney (Artistic director, C'est La Vie)

C’est La Vie: Dynamic New Theatre On the Go
This project is all about using social media to make those stories more accessible, opening up the theatre to busy people on the go.
by Ryan Thom
Public Relations and Outreach Coordinator, C’est La Vie Theatre

Fellow theatre people, lend us your ears – there’s an audio-theatre revolution on the rise, and it’s heading our way. C’est La Vie is an exciting theatre group based in Montreal that is harnessing the vast potential of social technology’s ever-expanding horizon to bring emerging artists to new audiences. C’est La Vie’s first and current project is a series of podcast plays: audio recordings of rarely-performed Canadian works from the festival circuit that will be distributed for free online. Interested listeners need only a computer or iPod to tune in – and they can do so from any location in the world. The project, which will be promoted on such popular social networking platforms as Facebook and Twitter, also aims to open up a dialogue between listeners, writers, and performers through blogging and web commenting. C’est La Vie Theatre, which will debut its first completed podcast on April 12th, has already attracted a number of playwrights and actors, and is actively seeking scripts for future recordings.

...podcasting's potential as a dramatic medium is virtually untapped

“Theatre is life,” says Sarah Mahoney, artistic director and founder of C’est La Vie. “It’s sharing the stories that reflect our selves and shape our identities.  This project is all about using social media to make those stories more accessible, opening up the theatre to busy people on the go.” Mahoney, a McGill graduate who has directed productions on four continents, sees this project as a way of exposing new writers and actors to wider audiences: “Ideally, I’d like these podcasts to become a way of discovering hidden gems in Canadian – and maybe in the future, international – theatre,” says Mahoney. 

Podcasting is a relatively new form of information distribution, even when compared to other forms of social media such as networking sites and blogs. As a result, its potential as a dramatic medium is virtually untapped – and very exciting. Mahoney’s audience will be able to tune in at their convenience, free of charge. This means that busy people, from theatre directors and producers looking for fresh talent, to working professionals too busy to spend an entire evening at a performance, to parents at home with children, will be able to access plays. They will be able to do so from the comfort of their living rooms, from cars, from bike paths, from public transit, and even from planes. C’est La Vie’s work might just be the next step in the evolution of theatre as a virtual, as well as physical, space.

The group plans to release a new podcast every two weeks – a rigorous schedule of writing, rehearsing, and recording.

Indeed, as any theatre artist or aficionado is aware, the stage’s roots as an art form deeply intertwined with revolutionary ideals – political, artistic, and individual. Mahoney sees this revolutionary spirit as a defining difference between her work and other forms of broadcast drama, such as television and commercial film. “Television is a one way conversation,” Mahoney says. “You sit back and zone out. Theatre is about bringing people to together to talk; it’s multilateral.” CLV’s podcast project takes communication between audience and artist to the next level. Listeners will be able to send feedback to CLV’s artists instantly by participating in online conversation, sending private messages or leaving public comments on CLV’s website. Mahoney also plans to write a biweekly blog dedicated to discussing CLV’s current featured plays and playwrights.

C’est La Vie Theatre is an ambitious project. The group plans to release a new podcast every two weeks – a rigorous schedule of writing, rehearsing, and recording. Undaunted, several Montreal writers, actors, and stage technicians have already risen to C’est La Vie’s call, spurred on by the challenge of paving the next step in the evolutionary road of theatre. Parties interested in volunteering or acting for C’est La Vie can contact Sarah and writers seeking to submit scripts can find out more about the submission process here

C’est La Vie Theatre is new plays, new playwrights, new actors, and new media: the brave new face of Canadian theatre.

C'est la vie Twitter feed: @cestlavietheatre

Barbara Ford is still very busy. Stay with this space, Saturdays, for her return.

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