Last Friday, the burgeoning theatre company Creation Coffin conducted a performance at Mahtay Cafe entitled “Hometown Glory”. The Brock Press sat down with four of the actors from the company, Marley Kajan, Evelyn Long, Evan Sokolowski and Taylor Shouldice.
“Creation coffin is from a Charles Bukowski poem,” explained Kajan. “The thing about art is that you make it and it dies.”
Creation Coffin Theatre Company wants to produce new work, as opposed to the often produced Shakespeare musicals. Kajan and Long discussed pursuing new ideas entirely as well as new interpretations of work that has already been done.
“We’re not really interested in Shakespeare or things that are done a lot because they are public domain,” explained Kajan. In agreement, Long outlined a play she had directed recently, a play about witches.
“The new work aspect of that is that the canon of theatre that exists is written for white males,” said Kajan. “We want to produce work that is new and that is not that is very important.”
The two are interested in taking on a play titled “Larond”. Kajan, as a graduate of Brock’s DART program, did “Blue Room”, an adaptation of “Larond”. Through that, she became intrigued by the play, and hopes to perform an interpretation that explores the idea through non-heteronormative relationships. Long is directing a play next September titled “Title of Show”.
“Bare”, another show, has peaked their interest. Long has acted in it once before. In a quick outline, she describes the play as focusing on the life of a gay couple that are forced to hide their sexual identities in a Catholic high school.
“For me, there was never another option,” Kajan said on choosing acting. “It was a thing I was born knowing. Even as a little girl, I always knew that I would story-tell. This is a career path you shouldn’t do if you can imagine something that will make you equally happy or happier, you absolutely should not do this career path — it’s too hard. You should only do it if you’re going to die if you don’t and that’s the point I’m at. This is the only thing that will make me happy, so I must do it.”
“I come from a very diverse background,” said Long on the same note. “I had a lot of influences pushing me in different directions and I was never satisfied in those directions. Until I started with singing Jazz music and did improv, and eventually those two merged into musical theatre. Once I got into it, there was nothing else. Now I’m less acting and singing, and more into directing and studying theatre, but I can’t see anything else.”
Creation Coffin is a Toronto-based theatre company, and each of its members performing at Hometown Glory Cabaret currently live and work in Toronto. The scene, they explained, is fantastic. Long, who comes from Calgary, remarked on the exploration she’s done of the underground world of theatre in Toronto in contrast to the commercial theatre in her home city.
“It’s never-ending,” she said.
A lot of family and friends showed for Kajan, whose hometown is in Niagara. Not only a Brock graduate, but also a local to Welland, she talked about the excitement of performing on her own turf. Long noted that it’s weird to be doing a show about home, not in her home.
“I do miss my home quite a lot,” she explained. “That’s a nice part about the art. You can feel some honest feelings for a large group of people.”
Taylor Shouldice, another member of the company, says she grew up with musical theatre in Fort Francis, Ontario.
“I was always a singer, so I took lessons and one thing led to another,” she explained. “I always kind of knew it was something I wanted to do, so I just moved to the city and pursued it, and I still love it.”
“My joke answer is that I’m a medium singer, actor and dancer, but I can do them all at the same time,” said Evan Sokolowski. “I was always told I was too loud, but musical theatre allowed me to be loud. It was expected and praised. I always thought I would do other things and then I realized I didn’t like any of those others things very much.”
Even though they’re a small group, they’re diverse in special skills and talents. In a run through of the four there, Shouldice noted that each has the basis of musical theatre, but herself and Sokolowski play instruments, Kajan is a phenomenal actor and Long is a “creature that can do absolutely everything”.
Upcoming, Creation Coffin will be performing Hexan in The Fringe Festival.