GuineaPigging – talkback matinee

Due to the late arrival of Easter weekend on this year’s calendar, the talkback for GuineaPigging came a week earlier than usual & followed close behind opening night. We had a similar sized crowd to opening, including the Thumbs Up group from meetup.com. No technical difficulties with the slot machine or casino curtain this time – & a couple dozen stayed behind for the talkback afterwards.

Onstage for the Q&A were producers PJ Hammond (who moderated) & Tabitha Keast, playwright Catherine (Cate) Frid, director Molly Thom, designers Angus Barlow & Ed Rosing, the full cast & SM Stacy Halloran, with ASM Naomi Priddle-Hunter working in the background.

One of the first questions came from cast member Chantale Groulx – regarding the ending & how that sat with the audience. An audience member responded that it was her initial impression that the play was to be a satire of the pharma industry, but then was somewhat confused about Chris’s revelation. I’m being cautious as to how much info I disclose here, as I don’t want to include a huge spoiler. It was Cate’s intention to draw a parallel: trying to be what you’re not (either a drug testing guinea pig or someone you’re not personally) will always have side effects. And, in a sense, Chris being holed up in this new & strange world helped her come to her own conclusions about herself.

On the location/backdrop to Chris’s journey is the drug testing lab & her fellow human guinea pigs, which Cate had researched by participating in a drug study herself. This aspect of the play rang particularly true – & another audience member outted herself as having participated in such a study. In fact, the story that the character Analisa tells about her experience during an epilepsy drug study is true – told to Cate by a participant in the study she took part in.

On the design side of things, Ed talked about taking the concept of creating a sterile, unwelcoming environment – the lab space built into a large office space in a huge corporate building. Angus added that the florescent lighting presented a challenge – never done before at Alumnae – but Ed wanted it & it was an important component of the set/lighting design. In addition to designing the sound for the show, Angus also acted as Time Lord, operating the digital projector (sometimes manually) that gave the set its digital clock.

An interesting artistic experiment all around.

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