Tonight’s premiere of “Love in the Age of Autocorrect”, by Loose TEA Music Theatre, will be a memorable performance adapting Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne and Stravinsky’s Mavra – two short, comic operas about the extremes one will go through for love and all the nonsense and miscommunication that comes with it. Taking place at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu, audience members will enjoy these two buffa classics in a setting like no other.
Artistic Director, Alaina Viau, has been one busy gal and I was thrilled when she agreed to share her story with me and the entire Loose TEA journey.
MC: Please share your Loose TEA story with us!
AV: I started Loose TEA last year with its inaugural performance of “La Tragedie de Carmen” last season but the idea of having my own company to explore different interpretations of opera and classical music goes back a few years before that. I realized that I wanted to share the experience and emotions of this art. Even though I love the art form, I felt that the historical context of these pieces made it inaccessible to people living in today’s world. Loose TEA’s mission is to take traditional musical and operatic works and infuse them with and entrench them within the issues, concerns and topics of our present day world. We want to challenge, motivate, and inspire our audience through the medium of music and opera, in a way that is approachable, understandable and relevant. Loose TEA is a company that focuses on the emotional journey that is created by musicians and actors on stage for the 21st century audience.
MC: How did you come up with the idea for “Love in the Age of AutoCorrect”?
AV: Given LooseTEA’s mandate of making opera accessible, the first thought was “how can I reflect the main issue in today’s world” and “what topical issues are we dealing with now that causes these same consequences”. In looking at these operas, the main issues are different types of miscommunication. So it wasn’t too hard to look at my phone and think about how many times I’ve had autocorrects happen on email, texts and twitter that lead to funny and, on occasion, horrible consequences. There have been countless times when I read “damnyouautocorrect.com”, and ended up in tears from laughing so hard! I mused it out loud to my GM saying that we should call them something like “Opera in the Age of Autocorrect”. He chimed in with “Love in the Age of Autocorrect” and our title was born!
MC: How are you incorporating your modern flare to these two specific works by Mozart and Stravinsky?
AV: We have adapted the situations and language of the operas to reflect a 21st century view of the operas. We use a text to start the situation in the Mozart, with Andrea receiving a text from Andrew that was supposed to go to his on-the-side lover. We use things like tagging on Facebook and hacking accounts to further situations. This is instead of the “soothsayer” missed letter and town gossip. The language used is exactly how we use in our everyday lives with expletives and catch phrases, and “dot dot dots”. But once in a while, we hark back to the “classical” setting of the opera to poke fun at how that language is interpreted today.
In the Stravinsky, we have changed some genders around to start and made the parent an overworked corporate single father who doesn’t have enough time to pay attention to his daughter. She and her boyfriend take an opportunity to trick him but in the end, she gets caught because her text went to “text purgatory” and her boyfriend never receives her warning! How many times have you not received a text or email and it was actually REALLY important putting you in an very awkward situation.
MC: The setting for the performance is also very interesting – please share more about the choice to perform at Rosemarie Umetsu’s Atelier on Davenport?
We are so lucky to be able to hold our show at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu! We love that we can be outdoors, on a terrace in natural light, rather than holed away in a dark theatre. We are always looking for interesting places to present our operas because instead of building a set and fabricating a setting, we want the setting to work for us and support the concept of the piece. Rosemarie’s space does perfectly! It was also fantastic that she was willing to dress some of our characters with her pieces in Mavra. It has been a great collaboration of space, fashion and opera. Even if it rains, we have engineered a canopy that covers the terrace to give us some extra acoustic and keep everyone protected from the elements. We love working outside and in a place that supports our art, so it was very natural to ask Rosemarie what she thought about holding an opera in her own backyard.MC: What do you want the audience to take away most from this performance?
AV: My primary goal is to make people laugh not just at the situations of our characters, but also themselves. Although we now need our devices for all types of reasons as it has become the ultimate multifunction tool, I think it is also good to take a moment to laugh how these situations are created because of how handy they are. Much like how one reads the horribly hilarious “damnyouautocorrect.com” posts, I also want people to think about how this has changed our communication and that sometimes the best solution is to actually talk to a person face to face. So much can be inferred from short written texts/emails that we are no longer communicating properly or effectively. We can’t go back, and nor should we, to a time before mobile devices, however, I would like everyone to think about meeting up for coffee or a drink and share an experience with someone in person rather than having a Facebook conversation.
Love in the Age of Autocorrect premieres tonight at 7:30 pm with performances taking place until August 24th. For more information, please visit looseteamusictheatre.com