I’m a theatre person. I love the theatre, I work in the theatre, and and I love what the theatre means for a city. Any city worth it’s salt has a theatre that is regularly producing professional theatre. (On that note, this is a very depressing blog post about closed theatres – related to the economy in the US tanking? I vote yes.)
Theatre is very typically high-brow, and reasonably so – it’s expensive to produce, people feel it’s inaccessible, and you’re not even allowed to tweet while you’re in the theatre (oh, the horrors). Another problem with theatre is that, traditionally, I don’t see things on stage that I can relate to. Don’t get me wrong, I love Les Miserables and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, but there’s a difference between that and something that relates directly to how I’m feeling right now, in the place I’m living right now.
And then along comes Kim’s Convenience. Not only is it set in Toronto (at a convenience store in Regent Park, which as any urban Toronto should know, is undergoing a pretty big conversion right now from social housing to a mixed housing community), but it’s also a beautiful piece of theatre. Have I mentioned that its roots come from the parable of the prodigal son? It fits so very well into my own little piece of humanity, and that suits me just fine. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but it has been selling out everywhere it goes (seriously, every single show), so I don’t feel like I’m alone.
My point in all this is that theatre has to be pretty specific to reach people. Les Mis works because of the specificity of the characters’ emotions. Putnam County Spelling Bee works because of the specificity of the situation (and the hilarity of having audience members on stage spelling with the actors). Kim’s works because it is so specifically located in an urban environment that we all know so well – the convenience store run by a Korean.
It’s a fantastic show, and you should do yourself a favour and buy tickets to it before it’s too late.