In a multi-denominational church hall downtown, seven mysterious cloaked figures are banging bamboo sticks on the wooden floor. They wear masks and chant in an incomprehensible tongue. Moving in slow, mesmeric circles, the figures perform a rite that wouldn't be out of place at the dawn of civilization, when man worshipped the sun and moon. Suddenly, the chanting stops. "That was great, everyone," says actress Andrea Studley. "We'll run through it one more time."
Deuce Theatre company is rehearsing Treeligion, an experimental take on faith and its effect on human existence. From prehistoric paganism to modern-day jihads, Deuce looks at the similarities and bloody differences between beliefs. It does this with a lot of help from past and present audiences.
During the run of their 2009 Piccolo play The Emperor is Naked?, they asked audiences to complete an anonymous survey eliciting opinions on religion. Deuce used the results as the basis for Treeligion, which opens with quotes from the surveys.
Audience interaction makes each show unique. Deuce involves theater-goers in their rituals, asking some of them to read lines or to join a spine-tingling procession. Whatever your beliefs, Treeligion presents a wide scope of ideas and ideals in a visually interesting way.