Aiden Flynn Lost His Brother So He Makes Another by Saskatoon’s Theatre Howl stole everyone’s heart at the Montreal Fringe Festival last summer, so much so that they were invited to the Wildside Festival this January for a remount. The story is about a young boy who loses his brother and is so sad that he makes another one out of scraps. It is an entirely wordless piece told through movement, shadow puppetry and music and this is how one of the creators, Nathan Howe, who also directed the piece, describes it.
Angela Potvin (AP): What was the inspiration for this piece?
Nathan Howe (NH): Morgan (Murray) and I sat down and made a list of things we wanted to do on stage. One of them was to write something about our younger brothers, another was a monster. We combined those and this is what happened. The thing that didn’t make it into the show from that list is a giant spider; but I lost that dream when we realized that I would not be performing in the show so we’re saving that for the next project.
AP: What are the main challenges when you are working with a non verbal piece?
NH: AIDEN FLYNN became a non-verbal show when we were trying to figure out how the two characters would communicate and if the Brother was able to communicate. The science of his creation is already suspect and we couldn’t figure out where Aiden would find something to work as vocal chords; so the show became non-verbal and we erased all of Aiden’s story-telling to replace it with a wagon full of jars.
We thought it would be challenging telling a story without words, but when we were in studio creating we found that the most exciting moments were when our audience would be piecing it together as Aiden was. There is excitement in not being told.
The most challenging parts of this play to create were the parts that had passage of time. We spent a lot of time experimenting with different shadows and elements of our “montages” to clear up what we were doing and where we were going. The beauty in this is that the imagination can run wild to fill in the blanks.
AP: You’ve now toured this show extensively. Where did you go with it? How has the piece changed over time?
NH: We toured to Fringe Festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Vancouver. The piece went through minimal changes on the road mostly to do with small moments for clarity. Since the team has been back, we have made bigger changes to the story as a whole. We received notes from friends and colleagues throughout the tour and in November sat down and went through every thought we had. Since then we have addressed many points in the show that were unclear or felt like jumps and bumps. The story remains the same, but we are making sure the show grows with us.
AP: What is the most exciting part of the show for you to watch at this point in its evolution?
NH: For me the most exciting part is the new story-telling elements in the beginning and end of the piece as well as the exploration of the creature (the toughest part to block way back in April, but the most satisfying to watch now).
We wanted the design to be home-made. Simple pieces on stage that Aiden and his Brother have complete control over without hiding the fact that the characters in the story are telling the story. The music was created at first to move the plot forward, but quickly became an integral part of the show. I think that the next step for this show would be to have one or two live musicians that Aiden can direct when he needs to. Our stage manager plays violin, maybe he can do it…
I am looking forward to getting a second chance at seeing this show at the Wildside Festival, opening this week, and I hope to see you there!
Aiden Flynn Lost His Brother So He Makes Another is playing at the Wildside Festival at the Centaur Theatre (453 St. Francois Xavier) from January 7-17th. Please check the website for show details.