When QuipTake presented The Art of Building a Bunker at the 2013 SummerWorks Festival, it was met with accolades. After selling out houses and being featured on Best of Fest lists from Torontoist.com, The Grid, BlogTO, and Artsvox.ca, Bunker is back to open the 2014/2015 season at Factory Theatre.
The impetus to start working on Bunker came from when Adam Lazarus, performer and co-writer of the show, was part of the Cahoots Theatre Writers Unit. He wrote a draft of a play called I, Racist, and presented it to Guillermo Verdecchia, who became the co-writer and director for the project. Whereas the main character in I, Racist was “post-racist,” Verdecchia and Lazarus felt that there was a more immediate way to explore the themes presented in the piece. “What happens if you’re like the guy on stage, and he isn’t post-anything, but is working through a problem?” says Lazarus, explaining how the main character of Elvis in the current piece was discovered. Bunker sees Elvis undergoing mandatory workplace sensitivity training and confronting some of his thoughts that are absolutely insensitive.
Lazarus and Verdecchia went into the SummerWorks Festival intending for the piece to be seen as a work-in-progress. “This was not about being picked up, this was not about slicking up a show. This was about Guillermo and I exploring a play we find very interesting and topical,” says Lazarus.
What’s different this time around? Lazarus explains that there is now a moment when each of the characters in the sensitivity training room gets to express their own fears and anxieties. “We’ve gone a little deeper into some issues and the problem that we’re presenting (is): how do we exist in this world together, when the world is seemingly falling apart? How do we interact? How do we create a better world? Can we, is it possible, or do we all have to hide in our basements because Ebola is coming?”
The Art of Building a Bunker opens at Factory Theatre on Oct.16 and runs until Nov. 2. For more information, visit www.factorytheatre.ca.