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Today's the sixth opening night we've had with Carmen Aguirre's Blue Box, which doesn't make it any less fun or special, but certainly takes away most of the typical opening night anxiety, that's for sure. Carmen and I have been presenting this piece in front of audiences for several years now, beginning with a reading in a Toronto restaurant long before the script was actually completed. It's always been critical to this show to share it with audiences – after all, Blue Box is a form of intimate storytelling that is capturing a conversation between Carmen and the listeners. And when I say 'intimate' I mean it in more than one sense: Carmen's stories are indeed personal (at times very personal, as you'll find out!), and the experience we are working to create in the theatre is also an intimate one which acknowledges that the audience is always part of the storytelling experience (so if you like to salsa, you're going to love this show).
The intimate nature of the show often leads to fascinating post-show conversations, both in person and sometimes online via Facebook or Twitter. Almost every night Carmen is approached after the performance by individuals who have similar stories, and those conversations have been one of the most rewarding elements of performing this show across Canada over the past year. For us, returning to GCTC after our run a year ago at undercurrents is a great example of that. Already, after only two previews, we're hearing from people who saw the show last year and have loved reconnecting with Carmen's remarkable tales. Although the play hasn't changed very much over that year, we have added new sound and lighting cues that enhance certain moments of passion, or fear, or longing, and we've had the opportunity to add in a very simple scenic element that gives the show a bit more visual punch than last winter's bare bones run at undercurrents.
I also wanted to mention how crucial that Undercurrents run has been to the success of Blue Box. Doing five performances in GCTC's studio finally enabled Carmen and I to test our ideas about how very very intimate we wanted this show to be, and those audiences taught us a lot about how to best tell these stories. So when we returned to rehearsal last spring in Carmen's hometown of Vancouver, we knew that the intimate approach worked, and we knew that we could add a few small touches to that environment. But we also knew to trust the relationship that Carmen establishes right at the top of the show. The fact that Carmen won the 2012 Canada Reads competition during last year's run made the performances particularly special. Since then, we've had amazing evenings in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Calgary. We're delighted to be back in Ottawa, celebrating a second opening night with GCTC.