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Director John Shooter on Radiant Vermin


Note: Apologies to all for this late interview post. I was blindsided by a horrible cold that sapped my energy and  concentration.

donna g: Radiant Vermin makes the second time that Precisely Peter Productions is presenting a play by Philip Ridley. Was this always the intent, or were you spurred on by the success of Pitchfork Disney?

John Shooter: Philip Ridley is one of my favourite playwrights. I love his imagery, his sneaky twists and turns and the fact that, even his darkest, most gruesome plays are laced with black humour! I intend to do a trilogy of his plays.

donna g: Plans with your first venue fell through. Once you got past the panic, how did you deal with the resulting challenges?

John Shooter: I intended to stage Radiant Vermin in Double Double Land. However, following the fire (of a DIY creative venue) in LA (which killed 36 people), many such venues around the world have now been under strict inspection and have been forced to close. Even if they do in fact comply with health and safety rules. Unfortunately, Double Double Land is one such venue and we only found out three days before we were due to start rehearsing. The DDL guys are really great though and are working hard to get their venue reopened as soon as possible. I loved working with them and hope to go back there in the future.

I had to find a new venue extremely quickly and managed to find Dirty Talk, run by music producer James Beare. It's an amazing venue and James has been phenomenal in allowing us to utilise the space in any way we wanted. We couldn't have wished for anything better. I'd also love to bring another show back here. Of course, moving venues means rethinking the show in some ways. Entrances and exits are very different in both venues but, due to the understanding and generosity of the cast and designers, the change was as smooth as could be!

donna g: You've only been in Toronto a handful of years yet you've managed to create theatre in established spaces as well as the historic Campbell House and even hip corners of Kensington Market. Nothing seems to hold you back. What keeps you going?

Marium Carvell
John Shooter: What really keeps me going is the fact that l have met and worked with such extraordinarily talented people. I often work with people l had never met before starting a show and they are always so kind and generous and take a chance on me. I finish each show on a high and am sad that our time together is over. But, l store the memories and believe that we'll work together again. If this wasn't the case, l doubt l'd have the enthusiasm to continue. They inspire me and so do the plays, of course.


donna g: Radiant Vermin has been getting positive reviews since its Opening Night. Are there any chances of an extended run, or are you already thinking of your next project?

Julie Tepperman & Jonas Widdifield
John Shooter: Radiant Vermin is a magnificent play but it has been so challenging to pull off and do it justice. But in the hands of these wonderful actors and designers, l think they did it. They are superb. This play has a certain rhythm to it and asks to be performed at breakneck speed with boundless energy. There is no fancy set, lighting or sound and so relies primarily on the skill of the actors to bring the story alive. There's nowhere for them to hide. This is a great achievement on their part. I'm not entirely sure what my next project will be. I have several ideas though and so l hope you'll watch out for us. Regarding an extension, that would be great but these pigeons need to rest. They've put out everything into this show and never faltered.

Radiant Vermin
A Precisely Peter Production
Until March 19th
Dirty Talk
167 Augusta Avenue (just north of Dundas)
Kensington Market
facebook.com/PreciselyPeterProductions

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