5 Fringe Questions with CAITLIN CORBETT

I’m going to try not to repeat what I just said in my intro to the Victoria Luloff interview, BUT…Caitlin Corbett DID graduate in the same class as her from Ottawa Theatre School, and starred as well in productions of IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS with Evolution Theatre, WE WANT LIFE by Andy Massingham, and THE SUICIDE, directed by Pierre Brault (a show remounted at last year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival).  She’s back in action this Fringe with her own creation, MORNING STAR, taking place at the Avant Garde bar BYOV.

– What inspired the creation of MORNING STAR?

In my last year of theatre school I was taught something that will always stick with me, and that was to never play a villain as a villain, but to play them as a hero. For no matter the evils that we may sometimes do, we are each the hero of our own story. MORNING STAR was born from this idea. I wanted to explore the concept of evil, how we perceive it and if it even truly exists. Actions can be evil certainly, but can a person be completely evil? Whether motivated by self-interest or the belief in a greater good, we all have our reasons and justifications for why we do the things we do. So to explore this idea, I chose to focus on what is arguably the most ‘evil’ character in the western tradition: The Devil. Because even the Devil is the hero of his own story.

– What made you want to bring this show to Fringe?

I graduated from theatre school last spring, thus officially making me an ‘emerging artist’ and in the past year I’ve been itching to show the world the stories I want to tell. The Fringe Festival seemed to be a perfect opportunity to showcase my work both as an actor and a playwright. I chose to use MORNING STAR for my debut, as I feel it very accurately represents the kind of stories I want to tell and the kind of roles I want to play. I’ve named my company for the show ‘Here Be Dragons’, because I like being a little bit off the map. I’m well aware that choosing to play the Devil is a bit of an unusual choice for a young woman of my age (especially an androgynous asexual devil). Although things are starting to shift and change, many roles for women are still often limited to that of the love interest (especially for young women). As I joked with my director:

“We (girls) always have to play Cosette! We never get to play Javert!”

I don’t want to play Cosette. I want to play Javert. Not that love stories can’t be interesting, but I want to have the option of playing parts where my gender doesn’t even factor in. Stories about betrayal and loyalty and good and evil. Now I’m not crazy, I know that playing Javert probably isn’t in my future (though I could probably still do a better job than Russell Crowe). But I realized that if I want more interesting roles for women then I’m going to have to write them. If you want something from the world, you have to be ready to put it in.

This is why I’m so excited to be a part of this year’s Fringe. It’s a great feeling not just to showcase yourself, but to contribute a little bit more art to the world. MORNING STAR represents the artist I am, and the artist I wish to be.

– What new energy has director Nick Alain brought to the project?

For about a year, MORNING STAR lived solely in my head and on my laptop and so it has been an enormous relief and great help to have it live in someone else’s head too. It’s easy to get lost in the swirling confusion of your own ideas. Having Nick as a partner allows me to bounce these ideas off someone else and see if they stick. Also, as is often the case, during our discussions of the story, Nick has pointed things out that I did not even realize were there when I first wrote it, or that I sensed were there, but couldn’t put them into words.

I find also that having a partner motivates me in ways that working alone cannot. When you’re the only person depending on your work, it can be tempting to slack off from to time to time. But when you have a partner depending on you, especially a friend, it makes you want to do better and to make them proud of this beautiful thing you’re creating together. To have your work be important to someone else, it reminds you of how important it is to you too.

Also Nick feeds me cookies. The importance of this can not be overstated.

Caitlin Corbett in MORNING STAR.  Photo by Johan Kwan.
Caitlin Corbett in MORNING STAR. Photo by Johan Kwan.

– How does your non-traditional venue (a bar) suit the show?

Though a former archangel, in this interpretation Lucifer is by no means a high and mighty being separate from humanity. Despite his grand beginnings, Lucifer is one of us now and wherever we are is where he is. And since many of us are more likely to congregate in bar than in a church, it follows that Lucifer might spend much of his time in bars with us.

It is a familiar and welcoming setting, the kind of place where we feel most at ease. All the better for turning our perceptions on our head.

Also, the Avant Garde Bar has a great revolutionary spirit, and since Lucifer is the first revolutionary, I thought he would feel right at home there.

– How do you think the story of Lucifer is still relevant today?

The reason I chose Lucifer at first is because the story is so well known. I do not have a religious background, and yet the majority of my friends and I are familiar with this story. I’ve always thought of Lucifer as a very tragic figure, and I know that we are always drawn to stories of ‘how the mighty have fallen’. But when I set out to write this play, I thought I knew what it was about: a philosophical exploration of the nature of good and evil (simple enough, right?). And yes, it is…But the more I got to know Lucifer as I wrote, the more I realized that despite how ethereal and otherworldly he may appear, he is actually very undeniably human. He is simply doing the best he can, and like so many of us too often discover, the best he can is not enough.

What I was amazed to discover as I wrote MORNING STAR is just how much Lucifer still loves God. I was not expecting that. But it just kept shining through, like a single candle in the deepest darkness. And it was through that love that I saw what was at the heart of this story, and why it still resonates so strongly. This is the story of a broken friendship; of loyalty, love, impossible choices and ultimately abandonment. Lucifer asks the audience directly:

‘Is there one among you who has never been abandoned?’

Whether you are a person of faith or atheist or agnostic, it does not matter. We have each, in our own ways, to different degrees, been abandoned by someone at some point. We each know how it feels to be forced to make awful choices. We have each failed someone we loved. And we each know how it feels to love someone who no longer loves us. These are universal truths. These are universal stories. And Lucifer is one of us.

MORNING STAR from Here be Dragons plays this year at the Ottawa Fringe Festival at the Avant-Garde Bar (135 Besserer St.). Showtimes are:

Thursday June 20th 6:00pm
Friday June 21st 6:30pm
Saturday June 22nd 6:30pm
Wednesday June 26th 6:00pm
Thursday June 27th 6:00pm
Friday June 28th 6:30pm
Saturday June 29th 6:30pm

Advanced tickets can be purchased HERE at the Fringe Website. $10 at the door with a Fringe pin!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s