Honesty on stage

Vogt Biographies returns to its roots

Vogt returns with a raw, experimental and comedic series focusing on human life.
Vogt returns with a raw, experimental and comedic series focusing on human life.
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Vogt’s own brand of light-hearted comedy shines in their second installment of the year, Vogt Biographies.

The production is comprised of a series of intimate biographies dealing with love, finding yourself and fighting against expectations.

These four one-act plays, Voice of an Angel, Shaifta, The Ballad of Afife Jale and Beco[me], explore the stories of people from different cultures worldwide, from Turkey to Kingston.

With the combination of humour and quirky characters, this emotional installment brings to life the personal histories of fictional people.

Each year, three times a year, Vogt Studios puts on a series of one-act plays. Each play has been conceptualized, directed, written and produced by Queen’s students with the help of the drama department.

Despite the at times comedic nature of the characters, the difficult themes within these plays are handled with the utmost care. It’s apparent the actors take their roles seriously, even through comedy.

Sean Meldrum’s Voice of an Angel is full of entertainment with provocative language, drugs and vastly different characters. The scene opens with a talentless writer, Max, coming home with a seemingly-typical prostitute named Annabel. Max reveals to Annabel that he wants to use her as the basis for the main character in his novel about a prostitute with big dreams.

What ensues is a series of delightfully funny attempts at seduction and forwardness, as well as unexpected twists. Sometimes the real story has been in front of you the whole time, just waiting to be written.

Opening with the traditional low vocals of Middle Eastern music, Shaifta tells the story of Mustafa Khan Shaifta (Zack Fedora), a famous poet who fell in love with a popular and beloved courtesan from the Sapphire Palace.

The society’s beliefs, however, dictate that their life together wouldn’t be possible. Despite having a less dramatic plot than the other plays, this story stands out visually with authentic and colourful costumes in the country’s traditional style.

The Ballad of Afife Jale tackles themes of discrimination and escapism with heart-wrenching wordplay. A precocious little girl named Anna, played by Tiana Prince, ArtSci ’13, recounts the story of a Muslim girl named Afife.

As Anna tells us this story, we start to see her own desire to escape from her reality through make-believe games. Prince’s dynamic expression and passion allowed Anna’s exuberance and adventurous spirit to shine.

The final piece of this installment, Beco[me], is a cabaret created with overlapping monologues, in which the students play themselves. The audience is granted five minutes with each character as they share their intimate thoughts, fears and secrets.

The set is mostly bare, save a few microphones and a piano. The set’s simplicity complements the continuous soft and nostalgic melody to the piece, the dim lighting and the rawness of the stories.

Vogt remains consistent with their discussion of social issues, which, in the past, have included themes like religion and sexuality. In recent years, the four-part series has focused on comedy.

With this new series, however, Vogt seems to be moving in a more experimental and emotional direction — back to its roots.

Vogt B is playing in Carruthers Hall in the Vogt Studios on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $4.

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