“It’s not ideology that separates us as people, it’s language,” says Ian Carney, co-creator of Lightwire theatre along with Corbin Popp. “When you speak the language that everyone speaks, the language of dance, everyone understands what you’re saying.”
Through the use of Electroluminescent wire (EL wire), Carney found a way to combine all of his creative skills. Lightwire Theatre creates magical performances where dancers disappear into the darkness and characters light up the stage. One of the theatre’s productions, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey will be playing March 24 at the Kay Meek Arts Centre’s Grosvenor Theatre.
Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey is predominantly a languageless show.
How it started
“We just saw the fact that it was so cool looking and the fact that you could tell any kind of story you wanted to, there’s no box,” says Carney.
Carney was introduced to EL wire, a type of flexible wire that can be lit up to create a continuous stream of light, by Popp.
“We started to see what EL-wire could do, we made little tiny puppets and realized we could erase the dancer,” he adds.
The two then began experimenting with larger costumes and had their first show in 2007.
How it works
“You won’t find anything on the costumes that you won’t find at a Home Depot, a sporting good store or on the street,” says Carney.
The costumes are made from recycled materials and at the end of every show, the lights come on and the audiences get to see, for the first time, what the performers wear.
Although it doesn’t look like it, everything the performers wear they helped make.
“It’s really about looking at the world sideways,” he explains.
Carney points out everything you need for these costumes has already been made, you just need to be creative to find it.
“Need a hinge? Take it from a skateboard,” he says.
Performers also have to learn to operate their own electronics and be able to show emotion while manipulating the light on their costumes and stay in character.
Since so much goes into a show, it takes a year to make a production.
Looks aren’t everything
“One big thing we made sure of is that no matter how cool the stuff looks, it’s backed up with a real story and characters you can care about,” says Carney.
In order to delve deeper into the story, making people forget how cool the characters look is important since very little language is used.
“Cool will get you five minutes, after that it’s just a light show and who cares?” he says.
Without a lot of language, audiences get to interpret the story however they want.
“What’s great about that, is that you’re never spoon feeding an audience and the audience gets to participate in the show because they’re putting their own movie on to the show,” he says.
A mouse on the moon
In Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey, the story revolves around a mouse named Marvin who desperately wants to be popular, but is relentlessly bullied by the “cool rats.”
“He understands the moon is made of cheese and wants to be popular, so he builds a rocket to get to the moon,” says Carney.
When he gets there, Marvin meets creatures that are odd and different and realizes there are more people like him, maybe some that are even weirder.
“In many cases, you just don’t realize what’s in front of you until you get everything you set out to get, and that is kind of [the] case here,” says Carney.
Moon Mouse is a story about realizing what you really want and sometimes you don’t know what that is until you’ve gotten all of the misguided stuff out of the way.
“You can put yourself in Marvin’s place, empathy is an important part of being a human being, it’s not just for kids,” says Carney.
Lightwire Theatre now tours throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and South America.
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