Talking Fringe – Zoë Erwin-Longstaff and Ryan Healey Performing in Vectors of Their Interest playing at Toronto Fringe 2014

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Say what you will about millennials, but we’ve entered the job market at a horrible, horrible time. When it’s hard for anybody to find a job, new graduates aren’t exactly in high demand.

The creators of Vectors of Their Interest address the challenges faced by younger generations in today’s economy, and I spoke with them to find out a little bit more about the piece:

1) Describe your show in 7 words or less.

Hyper-real, hyper-inflationary, hyper-feminist, hyper-apathetic satire.

 

2) What sets your show apart from other Fringe shows?

An outright difference is that Vectors is site-specific, and is in our house. So, we’ll be welcoming strangers to watch a play precisely where we’ve written, edited, and rehearsed it. And because the script-to-stage speed for the Fringe can be breakneck, we’ve been able to tailor the plot and themes of Vectors not just for our house in the Annex but also for the immediate concerns and worries of over-educated millennials in mid-2014.

Alongside this, we’ve tried to write and direct Vectors in a contemporary colloquial mode—for a play about today’s mutations of feminism and underemployment, we wanted to make sure no one speaks lines that could’ve been written in a timeless 1950s vernacular—something like Ibsen in translationbut instead, something more like what you’ll hear out down the block on Bloor.

 

3) What is the most interesting or surprising thing you have you learned in the process of developing the show?

Vectors is about a fledgling corporation of young women whose primary venture is selling dirty panties online. So, through our extensive research we’ve learned a lot about the surprisingly glossy online market for used panties, and other equally absurd (but nevertheless savvy) schemes that makeshift entrepreneurs invent to thrive in this recessed economy. The going rate for a dirty pair of yellow lace w/ cotton crotch is $25, but can double if attended by a clear, well-lit face pic. From panty-selling alone, some women net north of $33,000 a year—the demand is, of course, infinite, inelastic.

And in rehearsal we’re always making new discoveries. Through developing the show with our actors, it’s been a balance to find the real in the absurd and the absurd in the real. Even though we’ve created some outlandish conceits, the thoughts, feelings, and even snatches of dialogue are frequently stolen from ourselves and our close friends. So, we’ve felt some strange and unnerving dissonance to see characters—who resemble ourselves and everyone we know—now wrenched into a cruel, ultra-capitalist context.

 

4) What events or experiences in particular inspired you to create this show?

Most notable is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the renewed fascination, this past year, with corporate feminism. It’s become something of a critical obsession of ours—the realignment of the goals of a “good feminist” with that of a gray-flannel-suit striver: to snag the corner office, to win political positions, to chair a board. Obviously, you lose many of feminism’s historically collective aims for healthcare, wage equality, and division of labour. You could say Sandberg’s TED talk is the ur-text that ghosts our production.

On top of this, we’ve plumbed for this play all the recessionary stuff of our lives over the past two, three years. We had a high point of anti-austerity hope while at McGill, when we participated fairly militantly in the 2012 student strike throughout Quebec. But then we returned to our respective cities (Toronto and New York) for perpetually unpaid internships in theatre and publishing. Which then meant moving back in with our respective parents (thus the Annex house in which we’re mounting Vectors).

Once indoors, we read and digested a lot of plays Annie Baker and Wallace Shawn. And now we’re here: at a nadir where we’re working through a weird zero horizon somewhere between “What to do with our lives?” and “How can we actually do our lives, financially, mentally, emotionally?” It’s a nervous position—we’re either about to recalibrate our life-expectations for a “new economy” or just stubbornly keep on with our precarious “art life.” All of this, we hope, will have permeated faithfully into some sixty-odd pages of playscript and an hour and twenty-five minutes of your time.

 

5) What are you hoping people will take away from Vectors? (This could be either fellow people of your own generation, or of older/younger ones. Different takeaways for different age groups are totally valid!) 

For people over forty: an idea of why the kids these days are “lazy,” furtively mad at you, and have sometimes fantastically rioted on Bay and King. For people under thirty: solidarity or commiseration, acute anxiety mixed with some elaboration of that anxiety, “hope” but with the reasonably overwhelming weight of its opposite.

 

Vectors of Their Interest plays at 106 Albany Avenue.

Performance Dates
Wednesday, July 2 – 7:00pm
Thursday, July 3 – 7:00pm
Friday, July 4 – 7:00pm
Saturday, July 5 – 7:00pm
Monday, July 7 – 7:00pm
Tuesday, July 8 – 7:00pm
Wednesday, July 9 – 7:00pm
Thursday, July 10 – 7:00pm
Friday, July 11 – 7:00pm
Saturday, July 12 – 7:00pm
Sunday, July 13 – 7:00pm

Ticketing
Tickets are $10 (cash-only) at the door, $12 in advance. Advance tickets may be purchased online (visa/amex), or from the Fringe Club box office (cash/visa/amex), located in Honest Ed’s Alley during the festival. Money-saving passes are also available; see website for details.

Be advised that there is absolutely no latecomer seating at Fringe shows.

Photos by Eliza Trent-Rennick