Diversity and representation on stage is a hot topic in Vancouver and around the world and one that playwright Mily Mumford is passionate about. “I am excited that Down In The Uncanny Valley features a majority of people of colour and female and non-binary characters and actors,” Mumford explains. “I am excited to present a piece that features a gender variant/trans character that is also played by a gender variant actor, I think that representation and conversation is important.”
We can’t wait to see what this diverse group of actors and characters bring to this story of connection and “otherness.” Meet Nebula Company Theatre‘s cast and see what they have to say about their connections to sci-fi, their characters, and what they would say to the question “If you had the option to transition to robot-form, would you do it?”
|Lola Aoun-Faure: Laika
From Lyon, France, Lola studied theatre at Cours Florent in Paris, where she started writing, directing, and preforming in French and English. Passionate about Sarah Kane's work, she uses improv and mask techniques to build up her performances on love, death, and all the funny things in between.
|Nina Boosheri: Ada
Nina is a lover of theatre, travel, tea, and technology. She is thrilled to be a part of yet another Mily Mumford show! She speaks English and Farsi, and has spent the last few years training in theatre performance at SFU. She spends her spare time directing and working on the front lines of the tech industry. Her previous directing credits include works by Ahmed Ibrahim al-Fagih, Ann Lambert, Carolyn Nakagawa, and Will Eno.
|Charlie Cook: Attica
Charlie Cook is a non-binary theatre artist committed to telling queer stories in media. They are an actor, stand-up comedian, and playwright. Recent projects include starring in the web series A Queer Named Enby and Miss Education, their play being produced for Fantastic.Z Theater’s Femme Fest. Charlie would like to thank Mily Mumford and Nebula Theatre for giving them the opportunity to play a non-binary character onstage. This is the first time they have played a non-binary character onstage and they hope it won’t be the last. Support trans inclusive art!
|Lee Shorten: Evan
Lee Shorten grew up in Australia. He graduated law school in 2009 and was a practicing attorney before changing careers. Lee is best known for his roles as Sgt Yoshida on Ridley Scott's The Man in the High Castle and as the longest surviving demon on The CW's Supernatural. Lee has also appeared in numerous stage productions, including Bondage by David Henry Hwang, most notably Lee was part of the original cast of NeON by Mayumi Yoshida.
|Mayumi Yoshida: Atsuko
Mayumi Yoshida is from Tokyo, Japan. In 2010 she moved to Vancouver to pursue her acting career in North America. Her role as Crown Princess (The Man in The High Castle) received a 2016 UBCP/ACTRA’s Emerging Actor nomination. She made her debut as a filmmaker with Akashi (2017) which she wrote, produced, directed, and starred in. The short film is based on her play NeOn which was part of the 2016 Vancouver Fringe and 2017’s rEvolver Festival. Mayumi won Best Actor award at the 2017 East Van Showcase, TELUS Storyhive 2016 Digital Shorts Grand Prize in BC, Outstanding Writer Award at NBC Universal Short Film Festival for her work on Akashi.
|Kanon Hewitt: Technical/Supporting Cast
Kanon Hewitt is a sound and projection designer, stage manager, playwright, and performer. In a robot takeover, her weapon of choice is a katana sword. Kanon has created and performed for various international stages including the Vancouver Fringe, MACHiNENOiSEY Dance Society, United Players of Vancouver, Ensemble Theatre Company, MTV Japan, Benesse (Tokyo), Issey Miyake (Tokyo), and Ken Dance Company (Los Angeles). She is currently an undergraduate student in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia, and studies Isadora projection software.
Davey Calderon: Technical/Supporting Cast
Davey Samuel Calderon is an actor, director, and theatre maker based in Vancouver. He has his BFA in Theatre Performance and Communication from SFU and co-founded New(to)Town Collective, an emerging theatre collective focused on theatre training and interdisciplinary works. He was the Partnership Coordinator for the Alley Theatre’s The Ridiculous Darkness in association with Neworld Theatre. He is currently the Resident Producer for Neworld Theatre. Currently in development, his first play will debut at the Vancouver Fringe in 2018.
What excites you most about the show?
Lee: Honestly, there’s a lot to love about this show. Female writer/director. Diverse cast. Intriguing premise. I’m a huge sci-fi geek myself, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror)… So when the opportunity to work on something as cerebral and heartfelt as this came up, I couldn’t say no.
Lola: I’m not usually performing sci-fi. This universe fascinated me and I can’t wait to see how people will perceive the show.
Davey: I am a sci-fi nerd, so to be an AI in an immersive sci-fi theatre experience checks all my boxes.
Kanon: I was most excited about the show’s theme of AIs, and the possibilities for projection designing around that theme.
Charlie: Exploring the future of technology with a live audience! Down in the Uncanny Valley poses so many fascinating hypothetical questions about AIs and computer science, without being intimidating or inaccessible. I look forward to exploring the very real possibilities this show brings up for our world.
What is your favourite thing about your character?
Lee: I think Evan is just so very human. He’s funny (in a self deprecating way) and relatable but also deeply flawed. Like so many of us he’s a little lost, a little out of his depth but he’s trying. He’s got a lot of heart.
Lola: Laika faces her trauma and works on it, she gets shit done and affirms her power. I’ve been willing to work more on characters like her.
Charlie: I get to play a queer trans character who isn’t reduced to usual media stereotypes (spoiler alert: I don’t die!). Attica gets to use an android body in order to access a better life, which is a very uplifting statement for queer and trans individuals surrounding technology.
What is your experience with immersive theatre/immersive environments?
Lee: I was part of play called Surreal a few years back which was an immersive piece. It’s always fun to challenge yourself and the medium in different ways. But at the end of the day, it’s still about telling a story and hopefully connecting with an audience and maybe even provoking some discussion.
Lola: I love immersive theatre because you get to feel the public’s reaction instantly and it can turn over a performance. Your character takes them on a journey.
Davey: Since seeing Sleep No More in New York I got hooked and interested in the genre.
Charlie: I was fortunate enough to see Nebula Company Theatre’s Dark Matter, as well a few other local immersive shows.
Kanon: Theatre where the audience learns different pieces of the whole story in a process that is entirely technology-based, and theatre where the audience physically journeys with the actors through the playing space.
If you had the option to transition to robot-form, would you do it? Why?
Lee: Absolutely. Imagine how much we could get done if we didn’t need sleep? Plus, I might as well become a robot, I barely have feelings anyway. Haha.
Lola: Not right now but I would, I want children first and there are some things I need to feel, I would see it as a retirement opportunity: a body that can perform and a mind that can expand without the the inconveniences of daily life. The only thing I would miss is food.
Davey: Tough debate. One side I become enhanced beyond human definitions. But on the other side, would I lose my “humanity?” I think in the end it’s a choice that’s done in the moment. Also, I always wished to grow up as a mecha pilot. One day soon…..
Kanon: If there’s an option to partly transition, like a cyborg, I would take that for the dance injuries in my legs. But I would never transition my consciousness into a robot for fear of losing my “humanity.”
Charlie: I would, in order to hopefully impact the planet less. Needing to eat and take care of my organic body is honestly one of the biggest barriers between me and being a truly environmentally friendly human. Being human takes up so much energy. By transitioning to a robot form, I could consume less.
Down in the Uncanny Valley runs February 20-25 at Studio 16, in La Maison de la Francophonie de Vancouver, located at 1555 West 7th Ave. Buy tickets now, or purchase tickets to this show and two more and your tickets are automatically discounted to Subscription rates! Check out all the shows that are part of the Subscription here.