A MINOR SYMPHONY IN BEES Created by Christopher Stanton and the company, directed by Stanton. February 27-March 2 at 8 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Christopher Stanton admits it took a long time for him to get a cellphone. Even now he feels uncomfortable when he finds himself talking – or sometimes screaming – into it.
In a surprising theatrical connection, he’s using four cellphones to look at the global disappearance of bee populations in A Minor Symphony In Bees.
“I was reading about colony collapse disorder, the enormous loss of bees, insects that are crucial to human life on the planet because our food plants are dependent on the pollinating they do,” says Stanton, a member of UnSpun Theatre.
“One group of German scientists suggested that the electromagnetic waves from cellular phone towers were to blame. And then the UN reported that in the near future more than half the people in the world would have cellphones. Maybe the collapse in bee populations is due to cellphone tower radiation disrupting their navigation system.”
In the end, that explanation turned out to be fallacious, but the concept intrigued him.
“Consider the idea that such a pervasive technology could harm us in a fundamental way. What if we came to that realization too late? Could we make a difference? Would cellphone owners throw them away if they knew that using them was killing us?
“Think about the fact that cellphones promote a kind of social autism,” continues Stanton, who recently appeared in The Next Stage’s Don’t Wake Me and A Quiet Place and is also performing in Rhubarb’s The History Of Awesome. “The rest of the world disappears when you’re on a cell. Our presentation is a metaphor for what we’re becoming as a society.”
Created by Stanton and performers Tara Beagan, Margaret Evans, Geoffrey Pounsett and Aaron Talbot, the symphonic piece has the actors riffing on their cells. Material’s been culled from conversations overheard at auditions and in streetcars, malls and doctors’ offices.
“Of course,” he smiles, “people weren’t aware we were transcribing their conversations. But if you’re within hearing range, you can’t help getting half of a cellphone conversation. Not only is it remarkable what people talk about, but for some reason they invariably yell when they’re talking.
“If you’re screaming into that thing, you’re forcing yourself into the public domain.”
RHUBARB A festival of new works (Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander). February 20-March 2. $15, week pass $20. 416-975-8555, www.artsexy.ca.
Other RHUBARB play previews here.