A City” is presented as a gallery installation or tableaux vivant, an intimate, personal study of four artists/friends who tell the story of a famous friend who died under mysterious circumstances, and how he transformed them. The story is revealed through direct address in a disarmingly casual atmosphere, as if the audience were eavesdropping on a personal conversation.

Based on the members of a real indie theatre company in Montreal (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery), A City is inspired by documented stories, recorded text, confessional monologues and fictional writing. An intimate, painfully funny testament to a time and place, it is about the end of a friendship and a shifting world.

The piece is the second in a trilogy of plays by playwright Greg MacArthur that play with the boundaries between truth and fiction and are inspired by real life collaborators in three different Canadians cities.  The first in the trilogy, A Man Vanishes, presented at Videofag in the spring of 2016, was loosely based on the acclaimed 1967 film of the same name by Shohei Imamura, which starts out as a documentary about a missing Japanese man but increasingly creates uncertainty about the nature of the story being told, and also inspired by the Videofag co-creators William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill. The play starred the two artists as exaggerated versions of themselves, and the Toronto Star called the play “ [a] slippery Escher painting of a theatrical construct” and “a metatheatrical confection.”

As the verbatim theatre movement rose, I became intrigued by the idea of using that methodology as a starting point to blend fact and fiction and to challenge the audience to question the importance of whether it is true or not,” says MacArthur. “The stories are inspired by real artists — collaborators and friends of mine — and there are a lot of true anecdotes in the plays but with some pretty significant fictions mixed in.”

In terms of A City, this piece really looks back at the time I spent in Montreal, which was kind of a mythical experience for me. It was a transformative time — a time in my life when my friends and I felt golden, beautiful, and vibrant — and when it started to come to an end, I felt this magic starting to crumble away. It was like the end of a civilization.”

Jennifer Tarver adds, “I am really excited about how this work will play on the audience. They will be right there with the performers in an intimate art gallery setting, the fourth wall really stripped away. And they’ll experience a period in time that everyone has in their lives at some point — those golden years when everything feels full of promise, when you and your friends are invincible — while also having all their expectations of performance and storytelling challenged.”

A City features Amy Keating as Gemma (TomorrowLoveOutside the March); David Patrick Flemming as Graham (Bunny, Stratford Festival); Justin Goodhand as Andrew (Arcadia, Citadel Theatre); Cole J. Alvis as Paddy (Body Politic, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre). 

Necessary Angel presents A City 

On stage in Toronto from March 14 to April 2, 2017 at Artscape Sandbox in Toronto (301 Adelaide Street West). Tickets are available from $20 to $40 by phone at 416-703-0406 xt 2001, online or in-person at the Box Office during showtimes.
Twitter: @necessaryangel
Hashtag: #ACityThePlay



About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment, and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors, and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats. Reach out - bryen@thebuzzmag.ca