3 Questions: Hubert Lemire talks about the economics of staging theatre with Le NoShow

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      Ticket prices for Théâtre la Seizième’s Le NoShow Vancouver range from $0 to $120. You read that right. The play asks audience members to think about what they are willing to pay for art.

      Hubert Lemire is the co-writer and director who originated the provocative hit in Montreal and helped adapt it to our fine city. (He's also a well-known actor in his home province.) We asked him what Le NoShow is all about--and not surprisingly, it has to do with a lot more than money. But money is still a big factor.

      You can catch it till March 1 at Performance Works on Granville Island.

      Q. Le NoShow was created in Quebec, but it's based in part on the actors' lives. How is Theatre La Seizieme localizing and adapting it?

      A. La Seizième asked the original playwrights to adapt the original version, and so we did (with great joy!). Le NoShow has a skeleton, a structure. We just changed the skin. So we used the exact same structure as the original version is and we just fill it with actors' inputs: their point of view, their background, their thoughts, their doubts... As playwrights, we had to be very open to their reality to really understand it. But you know what, being an actor is universal. It was not that much of a shock for us to understand Vancouverite actors' reality: we share the same struggles, dreams, and disillusion.

      Q. The audience also helps to create the script. Can you hint at how that works?

      A. Oh this is a very dangerous question, because we have to keep some surprises. Let's just say that at some point we ask them questions that require answers.

      Hubert Lemire

      Q. They will also determine how much to pay for the performance. How do they do that and for you, what does the NoShow teach us about the arts and commerce?

      A. Le NoShow has always been a choose-your-own-price-show. Online, you can see five different prices and you choose amongst them, and there is no link between the price chosen and the quality of the place. It's a general admission show. And when you buy your ticket at the theatre, the very evening of the show, you choose your amount in an election booth, where you can check the price you want to pay, and when you go to the box office, it is blinded. So nobody can know how much you chose to pay. We want the audience to really feel free to choose, according to their budget or their values. This is a confidential process.

      In the show, to say the least, we unfold how much a show costs (in a funny way! We are also aware that talking about numbers is the least sexy topic ever.) Theatre has to look like magic, to look easy to do (like good figure skating looks easy) but producing is very expensive. Even some actors do not know the real economy of a show. So (amongst many other topics) we intend to educate on that specific matter.