BWW Interviews: Soulpepper's Lorenzo Savoini on ANGELS IN AMERICA at Pride Toronto
The Toronto Pride Parade is one of the biggest and most anticpated events of the summer, drawing over a million people into the downtown core to celebrate our city's diverse LGBTQ population. This year, Soulpepper is joining the parade and promoting their upcoming production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. BWW spoke with Lorenzo Savoini about the designs the team has come up with, the spirit of Pride and the 'Angels on Stilts':
We hear that the Soulpepper gang are going to participating in this year's Pride Parade and that you are designing the Float. Can you give us a hint about what you have in store?
It's going to be fantastic fun. Leslie Lester, our Executive Director, had the smarts to bring on board the brilliant Christopher Pinheiro. He is essentially our acting parade and march consultant. He has a huge wealth of knowledge and experience executing parades around the world, so we are so lucky to have him join us. He is an old friend to the Toronto theatre scene and has lots of experience with Pride. In fact, it was Christopher that convinced us all to do away with the float altogether and march, as a strong image of solidarity.
We hope to have a strong visual and social/political presence in the parade. We are also excited that a large number of soulpepper staff, associates, friends and family are coming out to march wearing our unifying Angels in America t-shirt that I designed along with an amazing team here at Soulpepper. Christopher has inspired us to take the T-shirts further by having a day long decoration workshop. This is to personalize the t-shirt and add beading, feathers, and all things fabulous, even tear them to make a new shape. The march will be lead by a bold banner that will provide clear context for our participation.
Is it true there will be angels on stilts? How do they balance the stilts and their wings?
Indeed, that is true. Erika Connor (a Toronto based costume designer and builder) is taking my initial design to an even more exciting place. There will be two female angels and one male stilt angel. In fact, we will have a white angel, a black angel and a red costumed angel . The white and black represent the two different looks the Angel has in the play. The red angel symbolizes blood, passion and many other themes that run through about seven hours of theatre. Again, Christopher inspired us with many parade research books, and so the wings are held by the stilt dancers arms. They can spread them way out on either side and dance to the music. How they keep their balance is beyond me, but they are going to looking absolutely amazing. Speaking of music, our Soulpepper Music Director Mike Ross, who is also playing Joe Pitt in the production, will be leading a New Orleans style marching band. We are taking this so seriously that we are actually having a dress rehearsal march the day before to work on coordinating all the elements. I suppose this is what happens when you invite theatre folk to a parade.
What do you think is the most important message that people should take away from Pride?
First, I'd hope when the community sees our contribution to the parade they will think of Tony Kushner and the impact his ideas and words have had and still have. I'd like to think that Soulpepper is trying very hard to simply be a conduit for Kushner's seminal work. A play that could easily be considered one of the most important artistic works of the 20th century. Leslie Lester has teamed Soulpepper up with Casey House (The first freestanding HIV/AIDS facility in Canada). We will be marching in solidarity behind them, and will have their logo on our T-Shirts. Angels in America represents, in part, a reflection on the struggle that was and is the AIDS epidemic, but it is also very much a story about looking forward to the future and finding hope. So, it is my wish that the Pride community enjoys our humble attempt at bringing to life this play, and this most important story. Overall though, I think the message of acceptance would be of most important.
Why do you think the theatre community should support Pride Toronto and how important do you think it is to continue to work to spread the word?
Her writing career started almost by accident, though it has always been in her blood as her Mom was an English teacher who firmly believed in the importance of being able to turn a phrase. She also loved sharing her love of theatre with her students (and her children), and was a staunch supporter of the arts in Toronto.
When not at the theatre, you can usually find Kelly with a Starbucks in one hand and her BlackBerry in the other, tweeting, reading or doing something quirky and clumsy for the sake of getting that next big story.
She's incredibly grateful to the amazing Toronto theatre community who have embraced her with open arms, giving her the greatest gift a little redheaded theatre geek could ever ask for - getting to be a part of this vibrant arts and culture scene. She may have never had the skills to be on the stage, but is thankful every day she gets to write about the inspiring people who do.
Headshot photo by Racheal McCaig www.rachealmccaigphotography.com
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