Gogol Dancing

Vancouver’s celebrated dance company Kidd Pivot is set to unveil its newest creation, ‘Revisor.’ Here’s what we know.

By Dorothy Woodend 1 Feb 2019 |

Dorothy Woodend is The Tyee’s culture editor. Reach her here.

If you didn’t buy your tickets to Revisor, the new work from Kidd Pivot, Vancouver’s celebrated dance company, you’re out of luck... for now.

The first run of the show has been sold out for months, and after a series of performances at the Vancouver Playhouse it is set to tour expansively, with shows in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

But don’t despair, the show will return to Vancouver in a year or two. For those too slow to get tickets to the first run, you can content yourself with a wee glimpse of the creators and the work in the video above by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Co-created by Vancouver-based choreographer Crystal Pite and writer/actor Jonathon Young, Revisor is a dance/theatre hybrid consisting of eight performers and the voice talents of nine Canadian actors. It’s based on Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 satire The Government Inspector.

Pite and Young’s previous collaboration, Betroffenheit, toured for years and picked up awards and accolades wherever it travelled. To say that expectations are high for this new work is an understatement.

Young first had the idea to write a script based on Gogol’s play while on tour with Kidd Pivot. The idea was not to recreate the original story but strip it down to the studs and see what was at the heart of the thing. Like Betroffenheit before, it is a convergence of text and movement squirming together to create something new.

Kidd Pivot’s associate artistic director, Eric Beauchesne, who’s been involved with the company since 2004, says preparations for the show are going well. “It’s a very fast creation, like a speeding train.”

Although dance and farce may seem unlikely companions, Beauchesne says the pairing opens up all forms of madness, incorporating not only theatrical elements but also the very articulated form of choreography, crisp yet sinuous, upon which Pite has built her career.

Whereas Betroffenheit was fuelled by the singular voice of Young, the creative palette in Revisor is much broader, incorporating current events as well as the classic tropes of political satire. As Beauchesne explains, although Revisor may seem horribly prescient, it’s been in the works for a while.

Based on Gogol

Written in 1836 and still ruffling feathers, Gogol’s work has rich deposits of thick inky stuff to mine, be it corruption, lust, greed or vanity. It has stood the test of time as an eviscerating, excoriating takedown of human weakness.

The original title of the play, Revizor, took inspiration from Alexander Pushkin’s anecdote about being mistaken for a government inspector. From this seed sprang a five-act comedy wherein a sneaky bureaucrat undoes the corrupt officials of a provincial Russian city.

As the levels of hypocrisy, corruption and mendacity reach dizzying levels, the town’s deeply compromised mayor breaks the fourth wall and demands of the audience: “What are you laughing about? You are laughing about yourselves!

Courtesy of Kidd Pivot.

So you can bet Revisor touches a raw nerve or two. As Beauchesne explains, Gogol’s work is as relevant to current day as it was almost 200 years ago. If you swap out the mayor for a certain orange-hued POTUS, things don’t really change that much.

The bones of Gogol’s story have been reworked in different ways across multiple cultures, from Waiting for Guffman to Bollywood interpretations. The intent of this latest adaptation was to create a funhouse mirror that could throw back a wavy warped depiction of reality in all its funny and sad grotesquery.

As things continue to get stranger and the evening news looks more and more like a Russian farce, a work like Revisor feels strangely appropriate. Like Ra-Ra-Rasputin, political corruption is very hard to kill. Shoot it, poison it, stab it with knives, and then throw it in the river — it will bob to the surface and start dancing.  [Tyee]

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