Brian Patterson – 24 Hours, December 21, 2016
Britain brexited, Trump won and your favourite musician died. There’s no doubt about it: 2016 has been rough.
During a year in which so many tears have been shed, Vancouver TheatreSports League proposes a unique way to say farewell to the treacherous 365 days: head down to Granville Island and laugh them off.
“Year in Review is an annual (show) where we look back at the weird, fun and offbeat things that happened in the past year,” said Brian Anderson, the event’s co-creator. “We frame it like regular improv, then take inspiration from the past 12 months’ news stories.”
Anderson first worked on the perennial production back in 2000 and has extensive experience in crafting the annual recap. To anticipate what unscripted surprises might be in store, he reflected back on the stories that made the stage last year.
“In 2015, it was the federal election where Trudeau had his big win,” Anderson recalled. “But there was also Jerry Vance, the candidate who quit after a video emerged of him peeing in a cup. And there was the Ashley Madison hack, of course.
“In the last five or six years, a whole subcategory of viral and social media has emerged. This time last year, for example, we had the blue/black/white/gold dress. These aren’t the big news items – and they won’t win a Pulitzer – but they are definitely on people’s minds.”
The small stories addressed in the show are drawn not only from Facebook feeds, but from the very lives of audience members.
“We like asking [audiences for] things that were significant to them that year. We get proposal stories, minor catastrophes, wild foreign adventures, and we re-enact them all!”
Shifting focus to this year, the first topic out of Anderson’s mouth will come as no surprise.
“Obviously Trump is the story of the year – and that’s an interesting one to find an angle on,” he said. “In the Bush era, there was always a lot of fun because he came off as a well-meaning buffoon. With Trump, there’s an edge of malice that makes it a razor’s edge. We have to balance not endorsing the positions he has, while still finding ways to poke fun.”
Touching on the topic lead the conversation toward another trend Anderson had observed while conducting research for next week’s production.
“There are so many stories saying, ‘I’m done with 2016,’” Anderson said. “It’s been a terrible year in terms of faces lost and the divisiveness of the (U.S. presidential) campaign. There is an air of less hope.
“I think a show like this can bring back some of that hope. It can bring back the fact that we haven’t changed. We still have our values. We can still be playful and respectful and joyful.”
Vancouver TheatreSports League presents Year in Review December 26 to 31. Tickets and info at www.vtsl.com.