York U theatre company to debut new play at Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe

three students in full costume
The Victims of Influence cast in full costume

A new play inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and premiering at the Edinburgh Fringe has roots in York University.

The play, Victims of Influence, will debut Aug. 2 at the festival’s Venue 13. There will be a special preview performance at York University on Saturday, July 19 in 207 Accolade East Building on the Keele campus. The preview is free and open to the public.

Victims of Influence was developed by YUFFA Fringe, a new theatre company based in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. The company, which draws its name from the University and faculty (YUFFA stands for the York University Faculty of Fine Arts Fringe company) features the talents of York University students and alumni. It is supported by York International and was created to bring bright talent from Toronto to Edinburgh each August. Edinburgh Fringe veteran and York theatre Professor Ian Garrett (the All Male Bacche, Silken Veils, and dozens more) serves as the company’s producer.

Victims of Influence explores what it means to be a monster today. Its premise is that we are all products of the laboratory of the greater society, sewn together by the hands of cultural dogma. Eventually we must confront our own reflection of the monster “they” wanted us to be. The play, a multidisciplinary exploration of Frankenstein’s monster, asks: “Do you have agency over your experience or are you a victim of influence? We all know about the story of the “monster” but how did he become one?”

The play was created over several months of intense collaboration, combining the skills of young Canadian theatre and film artists. Its development was led by dramaturges and York theatre students Ethan Resendes and Julia Matias. Resendes is a director, dramaturge, performer, writer and aspiring film maker. He was an ensemble member of Buddies in Bad Time’s PrideCab 2012. Resendes is the co- founder of Toronto’s afterimage Collective. Matias is a multidisciplinary artist and one-half of the artistic team behind Iris Theatre, an emerging theatre company dedicated to the creation of image-based work inspired by folklore, mythology, and the human condition.

Victims of Influence stars York students Raeburn Ferguson, Libby MacEachern, Stephanie Paolucci and Hilary Roskey.

Trained in classical ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and musical theatre Ferguson has directed and choreographed many shows in Toronto’s theatre community, including the Orangeville Music Theatre’s production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

MacEachern is an emerging performer and cosplay enthusiast; she has built a following for her design and displaying of costumes of both characters and her own design for conventions, photo shoots, performances and more.

Paolucci specializes in collective creation, site-specific work, multimedia work, physical theatre, performing and directing. Some of her more recent works include Spare Change (InspiraTO Festival), Where do you locate home? (Volcano Theatre’s InFORMING CONTENT) and Monster (Theatre P.O.V).

Roskey is a performer and has appeared in some of Toronto’s Little Black Afro Productions and Muse (Sterling Studio), The Vagina Monologues (York University- JGG Theatre) and Drafts (Tarragon Theatre).

The set and costume designs were created by York theatre production students Raechel Kula, a frequent performer with the Spirit of Aloha Ohana Hula, a Hawaiian dance company in Toronto, and a lifetime member of the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, and Marileina Pearson, an avid photographer and videographer who is expanding her skills to the theatrical world.

Theatre professor
Ian Garrett

Garrett is a designer, producer and administrator. He is co-founder of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, coordinator for sustainability at World Stage Design, and resident designer at the Indy Convergence.

His recent design work includes Kristina Wong‘s Cat Lady and Going Green the Wong Way, Roadkill Confidential (Son of Semele), Eternal Thou (Atwater Village Theater), and the Crimson Collective’s Ascension at Coachella. He received the 2006 LA Weekly Theater Award for his lighting of Permanent Collection at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, and his work on Song of Extinction (Moving Arts) won the 2008 LA Weekly Production of the Year.

He speaks internationally on sustainable practice in production; for which he has been featured in American Theatre, DramaBiz, and Inhabitat.com. In May 2012, his essay “The Carbon Footprint of Theatrical Production” was published in Readings in Performance and Ecology (Palgrave McMilian).