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Photo: Sam Woods

Theatre Review: subDevision at La Nouvelle Scène—until 11.16.19

By David Currie on November 15, 2019

subDevision is a multilingual, multidisciplinary, multi-sensory living performance space that I cannot recommend enough. Directors Sarah Conn and Kate Smith, alongside all the performers and crew, have built a performance art “haunted house” style experience that examines the most pressing and urgent questions of our day. They have transformed La Nouvelle Scène into a time machine, a time capsule, a laboratory, or possibly into something that has never existed before. Each performance is a near-perfect distillation of a single theatrical idea.

Aplombusrhombus staged their show in the outdoor courtyard—watch through the glass windows from inside La Nouvelle Scène. Photo: Amanda Armstrong/Apt613.

A short site-specific play lives at the end of this hallway. Photo: Amanda Armstrong/Apt613.

Each performance offers a totally unique and venue specific experience that will delight the self and stimulate dialogue and conversation with the community. The way one interacts in the space will vary greatly from person to person.

Last night a couple saw one or two shows and then left, someone saw one thing he thought was perfect and then drank at the bar the rest of the night proselytizing the spiritual and medicinal benefits of that show. Most people wandered around for the three or so hours seeing all or most of the performances. In that wandering, in that freedom of choice, the audience—though not experiencing exactly the same thing at the same time—developed a sense of community and shared experience.

There’s a non-linear schedule to the short plays, and each work stands alone. Start at the bar then explore subDevision wherever curiosity takes you. Photo: Sam Woods.

People mingled, people conversed, people recommended “the next cool thing” to strangers, and through our shared questioning of our world, a kind of healing really did take place.

Two of the performances examine the modern reality of living in very close proximity to one another, one examines how we build a modern life, one examines community-building in the fear of apocalypse, how do we see ourselves in our politics, how do we find love when everyone including ourselves is unfamiliar, and how do we commit to doing good when our ancestors have done such evil. That last one, What if we lived up to our promise? deserves special recognition for being at the same time the most peaceful, kind, and humane while also being the most urgent.

L to R: Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride a.k.a. THUNK!theatre. Photo: Amanda Armstrong/Apt613.

However, highlighting one show seems unfair, when every single performance has something creative, wonderful, and worthwhile to share. No performance leaves you wanting more but instead leaves you with more than you went in with.

Perspective is everywhere inside La Nouvelle Scène throughout subDevision. It isn’t hyperbole to call it brilliant. That brilliance is everywhere in this experience. As the light fades after each performance, the ideas in those performances grow in every person wandering through, only to meet others in the space between venues to be discussed and grow a little more.


subDevision is running at La Nouvelle Scène (333 King Edward Ave) from 7:30pm–10:30pm until Saturday November 16, 2019. Tickets cost $20 online and at the door.