“Unwrapping” the Conventions of Theatre

This summer, Unwrap Theatre, an innovative new arts experience that gives you a voice in the creative process, makes its debut in the Region.

“Each audience, every night, is going to see a different show, a different staging or writing,” said Alten Wilmot, one of the co-founders. “Their voice is going to be very prominent in the development.”

Founded by Wilmot and Breanne Tice, Unwrap wants to challenge how we engage with art, wanting to facilitate a collaborate process between creators, performers, and audiences.

“We want to create a community that doesn’t separate the performers and the spectators or the patrons,” Tice said, explaining that audiences will “invest in a new creation” through engaging with the playwright, actors, and director after the performance to provide feedback.

“Audiences will get a glimpse into the process of creation,” Wilmot said, “they’ll get to meet the playwright, ask them the questions like ‘what goes into creating a piece like this? Or ask the director ‘how do you take it off of a page and put it on a stage?’ So the theater starts to become something that’s more ingrained in our community.”

Artists will get to engage with their work in a live setting, with Unwrap producing shows that have gone “as far as it can go without an audience,” Wilmot added, encouraging the artists to make live changes to their work.

Unwrap came about when Tice and Wilmot noticed a gap in the KW arts scene.

“There’s so much talent in KW … but there’s really no company that’s staging and producing new contemporary work from all disciplines,” Wilmot said, offering up what they call “risky” work from new voices and ideas that are “already percolating in our society.”

“We’re looking to produce and help develop work that allows audience members to get a glimpse into someone’s life that we regularly don’t get to see. Theatre allows us to empathize with that person and have a greater understanding of that person, which helps build our community as a whole,” explained Wilmot.

At just 20-years-old, Wilmot and Tice are an impressive duo — young, ambitious, and deeply passionate about the arts. KW natives, they’ve been friends since childhood, meeting through their love of community theatre and dance.

“We’ve developed a working relationship where we can be really good counterpart to each other. If one of us is really going off on artistic ideas, the other one can be the business brain and be like, ‘okay, but how is this going to work?” Tice said.

Being a working artist in this area is a challenge, and living in Toronto for school – Tice at Ryerson and Wilmot at Sheridan – they recognize that they are part of the talent drain that KW is experiencing.

“The talent here is very, very evident, so why is it that we have to go other places for [contemporary art], why can’t we foster it right here?” Wilmot said.

“There’s a big part of the arts that is making your own work or making it happen for yourself,” Tice said. “That was a really important lesson that I learned really young … and so why not be the ones to make it happen?”

Tice and Wilmot are excited about their launch this month, as they said that it’s not solely about entertainment, but the takeaway, also.   

Unwrap Theatre begins its pilot season with Dancing Under a Blanket, July 19-21 at the Registry Theatre. Tickets available at unwraptheatre.ca