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Zuppa Theatre Company

Ensemble theatre company, formed in 1998, and based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Zuppa comprises a core group of artists which develops original performances in collaboration with artists from related disciplines. The Company has developed a unique collaborative process that privileges the intuitive over the formulaic and explores the interplay between the imagined and the real.

Company members are Ben Stone, Susan Leblanc-Crawford, and Alex McLean.

Early productions include: Endgame (1998); and four works for young audiences, performed annually outdoors: Nicholas Knack (1999), The Sneetches (2000), Duke Zappa (2001), and Junk Zappa (2002).

More recent productions often have an apocalyptic theme: Radium City (2004), in which a scientist attempts to discover a cure for time; The Zuppa Circus Open Theatre Kitchen (2005 – 2007), where creation myth meets cooking show; Penny Dreadful (2007), set in Halifax 1863, in which a returning prodigal son becomes morbidly fascinated with two servants; and Poor Boy (2009), a free adaptation of the myth of Orpheus with an orchestral pop score.

In Five Easy Steps (to the End of the World) (2010 Merritt Award 2011), three friends celebrate the past, present and end of the world with a bang. Five Easy Steps was produced in June 2011 at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Ottawa. About Five Easy Steps critic Elissa Barnard of The Chronicle Herald wrote: "Zuppa Theatre delivers an unforgettable sensory experience... Part carnival, part house of horrors, part New Year’s Eve party and part true confessions...quirky and haunting original songs ... glittering, high-octane performances. Five Easy Steps leaves you feeling like you’ve been to a wild party where everything went wrong and yet you wished it had never ended."

For the 2014 Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Halifax, Zuppa devised Pop-Up Love Party, based on Plato's The Symposium. Accompanied by six courses prepared by a gourmet chef, the three actors reflect on the meaning of love, beauty, and mortality. It was remounted in Lion & Bright Cafe Wine Bar in Halifax in March 2015. Meghan Hubley states in her review that "The collision of personal truth in the speeches with the flavours on the plate is when Pop-Up Love Party truly shines: Leblanc's first speech on eros discusses love and attraction as the world's oldest force, and is elevated by chef Burns's caramelized onion chip" (The Globe and Mail 23 March 15: L3). Pop-Up Love Party was remounted for the Magnetic North Festival in Whitehorse in 2016.

In 2017, Zuppa premiered The Archive of Missing Things at Dalhousie University's Killam Library. Structured as a game, this "ambient drama" involved audience members sitting at tables with computers and headsets. "Their screens are portals to an online registry, in which lost objects from various eras and civilizations are given serial numbers and stories" which branch off into different threads connected to the Archives fictional founders, a father and daughter whose story touches on intellectual currents of the 19th and 20th centuries. The live performance by actors provides clues through conversations overheard in the library, or gestures towards objects in the library.

The group has toured locally, and to Boston, Vancouver and Cardiff, Wales.

Source: Alex MacLean, Kate Cayley, and Stewart Legere, "Approaching Ambient Drama: Reflections on Two Immersive Experiments," Canadian Theatre Review 173 (Winter 2018):21-25.

Web site: www.zuppatheatre.com

Last updated 2018-02-22