We’re Gonna Die
May 2 – 5, 2012
Regardless of whatever criticisms I have about the state of theatre in Calgary, I am immensely thankful that there are so many productions going on in any given week that I cannot possibly attend and review them all. Thankful, yet sometimes frustrated. I occasionally miss a show I’d really like to see, or in the case of We’re Gonna Die at Theater Junction, only get to see it on the closing evening, leaving no time for a review. In my defense, the show only runs for 4 nights and is concurrent with the opening of one of the biggest and most anticipated Calgary premieres this year (think the hockey hero and tales of abuse). But We’re Gonna Die is a show I very much want to see – so closing night it is and therefore, instead of a review, I’ll attempt to give a preview that explains why this production is a must-attend for me.
The show is described as storytelling about human sadness and coping through a mixture of monologue and song as a kind of existential pop-concert one-woman show. That woman is none other than New York playwright Young Jean Lee, an American-Korean artist that has been hailed by the New York Times as, “One of the most adventurous new playwrights to emerge on the New York scene in the past decade.”
That alone intrigues me to the point of making sure I’m in the audience. But even though I do love being theatrically discomforted, I will admit to a healthy dose of hesitation on this one. I mean, c’mon….a show about sadness and the masks we wear to deal with the depths of our isolation accompanied by a live back-up band? Talk about postmodern downer-ism. Not exactly date-night entertainment.
Yet the blurb Theatre Junction supplies for the production calls We’re Gonna Die a “life-affirming show” that points us towards shared connection and comfort in the face of human despondency. So I figure it’s either one of those shows you just need to see to fully get, or the communications people at the theatre are trying desperately to spin this show into something you won’t want to slit your wrists after.
Either way, it isn’t often we get an up and coming hot young New York playwright presenting her Canadian Premiere in Calgary and I for one will be there with bells on. Whether those bells will be ringing with excitement or trying to drown out the memory of the show remains to be seen. But I’m excited at the opportunity to see which it is.
If you get a chance to see the production before I do, please drop me a note and let me know what you thought of it. And for those of you that would like to read the New York Times review of Lee’s performance of We’re Gonna Die from April 2011, here you go: