Here at Ottawa Showbox we don’t tend to cover a lot of theatre. Actually this may be the first time. But after speaking with Megan Carty of the local theatre company Cart Before the Horse we felt we needed to start.
Cart Before the Horse was formed in 2014 by Megan Carty and Paul Griffin. They strive to use theatre as a powerful outlet to explore topics we as society are otherwise afraid to talk about. Cart Before the Horse primarily focuses on plays that explore how the world of young women has been expressed by playwrights in contemporary Canadian theatre. In doing so they have been nominated for several awards and won the Prix Rideau Award for Outstanding Direction for their 2016 adaptation of Judith Thompson’s Perfect Pie
Their latest production continues where they left off. girls!girls!girls!, written by Greg Macarthur, is a gritty drama written in response to the events surrounding the brutal death of – in Victoria, BC and the Columbine massacre in Colorado, USA. It is a fictionalized story where four young teenagers seek brutal revenge on the winner of a gymnastics competition and go on a hunt to obtain her red ribbon.
We had a quick chat with Megan Carty, co-founder and artistic director of Cart Before the Horse and producer of this show, while deep in a technical rehearsal before opening night.
Being an Ottawa-based artist I find myself very hungry for gritty theatre that pushes boundaries and makes me think/feel. I came across this script about a year ago when a fellow actor of mine lent it to me and I was immediately hooked. It explored the same murder trial as a show I did a few years earlier called The Shape of a Girl, only it was a much edgier, more stylized, and a cartoon version.
I applied to the TACTICS festival for the second year in a row, assembled my dream team of local emerging artists who were drawn to the same kind of theatre and style of work as me, and then we all a boarded the roller coaster and never turned back. This process has been especially unique because although certain people wore certain hats in the rehearsal room (ie the actor hat, the director hat, the sound designer hat, etc) we all created this show together as a collective. Everyone had an equal voice in the room and each artist/idea influenced the other artists and ideas. It was extremely rewarding and the result is something I could have never imagined, behind my wildest expectations.
My partner, Martin Dawagne, is a professional and highly skilled composer and sound designer from Belgium. We met two and a half years ago in Toronto and instantly connected because of our passion for creation and relentless pursuits of our perspective arts – his music and my acting. Since our first encounter we have collaborated on a multitude of projects that fuse his composing with my theatre, including four productions with my company.
The sound in this piece really is a complete character of its own. It drives the entire show and has a massive presence, not just in the transitions but in the undertones of every scene. Since the play deals with themes of teenage pop culture, we chose a bunch of popular pop songs to drive our story forward, recorded original covers of our cast singing them, and then he went crazy with effects, layers, samples, and looping medals to make them as distorted as the story itself. The music of this show is not just a soundtrack, it is a full on score that elevates the production value in every way. A lot of Martin’s choices as a designer really influenced the direction we took with all the other elements – lighting, set, costume, acting choices, etc.
It is written right in our mandate that EVERY production has an original score so I would say it is of extreme importance. We are a very dynamic company and I love to choose scripts that call for a lot of movement and physical theatre onstage. Of course the best thing to pair with so much action and choreography is music. And if course the music is better if it is crafted to specifically fit the needs of this specific script and production. I really believe that something magic can be created when interdisciplinary arts work together in unlikely ways. Martin and I have found that fusing our respective arts and passions really lifts the quality of both our work as artists.
If you are looking for something a little different, go see girls!girls!girls! with its wild music and which is sure to spark a dialogue with a story that will follow everyone in the audience home. girls!girls!girls! begins April 27th, with shows from April 27-30 and May 3-6 at 8pm, as well as May 6 at 2pm. Tickets available here.