Amidst the hot summer months, a handful of Queen’s students banded together to start a riot — more specifically, the Riot Theatre company.
Riot Theatre, a workshop-focused theatre company that produces student-written pieces — poetry, plays, storytelling or other creative pieces — opened their first show last week.
The company, dreamt up by Alanna Wrenshall, Chris Daley, Shelby Camman and Wallis Caldoza — all ArtSci ’17 — was born from a perceived lack of opportunity for student writers to develop their pieces.
Wrenshall said there are few outlets for students to workshop and fine-tune their pieces before a performance, especially for non-Drama students.
“We wanted to create a company that focused mainly on the writer,” she said.
Pieces considered for Riot’s process can be “anything”, she said — plays, poems, short stories, creative writing pieces or songs. The pieces selected are then presented as performances or staged readings.
Wrenshall said the main criteria for pieces were that they “have significant contemporary relevance, and have the intention of igniting insightful conversations.”
She called the company “organic, grass-roots theatre”, and said the theatre company workshops and performs its pieces “in alternative theatre spaces with as sparse amenities as possible.”
Riot’s inaugural show, Re:Vers, opened on Oct. 15 and ran for three nights at the Grey House. The sexually-charged show — focusing on the tumultuous navigation of modern relationships — was written by Scott Forster, ConEd ’16, and directed by Rachel Manson, ArtSci ’17.
Forster’s script crackled with lewd and boundary-crossing humor crisply delivered by an ensemble cast in the form of a staged reading. In a scene indicative of Forster’s humor, Peter, a tightly-wound workaholic played by Mathew Hunt, ArtSci ’16, fumbles with the barrage of sex-seeking apps and explains his “top three options”.
“Tinder, undoubtedly a camping app; Grindr, which I’m assuming has something to do with marijuana paraphernalia; and Craigslist, because apparently you can seduce the same person to whom you sold your couch.”
Through clever innuendo and situational comedy, the show provided insightful commentary on sexuality and the contemporary relationships developed in the piece.
For Forster, the writer, these deeper themes were most important to the show. He said the piece highlights “the gravity of issues like substance abuse, heteronormativity and the concept of an open relationship”.
“I wanted to bring a new approach to the conversation on dysfunctional relationships, by portraying it as a realism-based dark comedy,” Forster said.
He said the piece also aimed to explore the perceived importance of masculinity within the homosexual male community.
“A major failing point in many gay male relationships is the contrast in masculinity between the two men,” he said, adding that it causes issues for those perceived as “straight-acting.”
“I found this to be an interesting ideal, deserving of a public depiction.”
Note: Wallis Caldoza previously worked for The Journal as a copy editor.
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