|Best Boys’ final stage work was given a full production
and public presentation for the month of April, 1996. It was the company’s
most accomplished work and garnered some of its highest praise. It also
brought things full circle by featuring actor Kevin Hartley (who portrayed
another “real-life” character, Kenneth Zeller, in our first production,
as the show’s protagonist, David Walker.
Michael Ridler Project is a 90-minute performance work for multimedia,
including text, movement, slides, video, visual art, and taped sound. The
result is a blending of still and moving images with live and recorded
sounds, improvised and created texts and performances, purposely blurring
the lines between film, stage and actuality, in a way that suggests the
imagistic theatre of Robert LePage or the techno-texts of Laurie Anderson.
The Michael Ridler Project examines the separation
of both characters and audience from life and each other, by technology,
time, perception and art. Time lines work on a present/past continuum with
the "past" being recreated in the “present” through the various media.
In this way, the notion of an external, fixed narrative reality is challenged
and reassessed. By mixing fiction with reality, and by questioning the
authority of a "text" proper, The Michael Ridler Project subverts
an audience's expectations and perception of any text as authoritative
With the gradual construction of the set throughout the
play and its eventual deconstruction at the end, the work questions whether
an audience should be offered the tradional theatrical “catharsis”, or
transcendence, without having shared in the characters' pains. The audience-as-voyeur
is left with "castrated" texts and blank screens to contemplate at the
end of the performance.