There is a troll who lives under the Alder Bay Bridge! Have you heard? The nasty little troll showed up a few months ago, and regular troll sightings have been occurring on Granville Island ever since. But this particular troll is no Harry Potter Ogre; this troll is petite and feisty, bubbling over with nastiness. Her magical powers far exceed her height and weight. She sleeps curled up in her hammock under the bridge, grunting, snorting, snoring, but when you try to cross the bridge, she wakes. This power hungry troll will not let any lesbian villager cross over her bridge!
You might have guessed it, but the local award-winning women’s theatre company, the Leaping Thespians are at it again, bringing another original, quirky, and touching play with lesbian content to the Vancouver stage. The Leaping Thespians have been outside at Granville Island all summer long, rehearsing for their latest outdoor play and their first ever Fringe Festival production: The Troll and the Three Lesbians Gruff. Writer/director Karen White took on the challenge of creating a sight specific play for this year’s Fringe Festival. It took White a couple months to decide on the location, but once the Alder Bay Bridge was chosen, the characters and story just sort of rose up from under that bridge. The Troll and the Three Lesbians Gruff was born for and from its environment.
The real-life set provides the perfect bridge for a troll, not to mention, a visually charming, two level outdoor stage to which passerby’s and audience members can see from all angles and sides. It is an interactive set, and the audience is invited to share the space, to come down under the bridge right to the water’s edge to bid farewell to Grace (a character who kayaks off into the distance to find her destiny).
Nina De Lucca who plays Grace says “the audience is there to be spectators, but they are also there for an experience!”
The use of kayaks and rowboats for characters entrances and exits is very clever and compelling. It makes you feel as if you really have just stumbled upon this little historic village of lesbians and trolls, like it is not a performance at all, but a real-life magical lesbian fairytale you’ve been invited to be a part of.
For many of the Leaping Thespians cast this has been their first taste of outdoor theatre, and rehearsing outside has posed many new challenges and obstacles.
Actor Nina De Lucca admits sometimes kayaking away in character is tricky and slippery, but she really likes the fact that she gets to go for a little kayak every night. What Nina De Lucca hasn’t enjoyed are all the geese that waddle down through their set every night at sunset, honking and hissing at the actors.
“The geese have been one the most difficult aspects of the rehearsing outside.” Nina says. Director Karen White agrees “all the outdoor noises can be quite disruptive”.
“Many, many geese, every night! They would walk right through our set to get to the water, and that many geese kind of freaked me out!” Nina laughs.
The challenge for actor Eroca Zales was rehearsing in front of live audiences from the very beginning.
For Piper, who plays the memorable, feisty troll, rehearsing in front of Granville Island passerby’s was actually quite an enjoyable and exciting experience. Piper’s biggest challenge has been figuring out how to embody the ‘nastiness’ of her character, embrace her own bad side, and break away from her usual supporting roles to become the one and only Alder Bay Bridge Troll.
The Troll and the Three Lesbians Gruff opens this Thursday and runs September 5-8 and 10-14 starting every night at 9PM. It is a silly, fun and childlike performance, but the play’s themes and messages run deeper and speak to all different aspects of humanity.
“Other than a few little moments of swear words and girls kissing, it really is a family play,” says White.
So come out and bring your kids, bring your sisters and brothers, and parents and grandparents, and chosen family too, experience the magic and innocence of the Leaping Thespians latest show. And, of course, come see for yourself, the troll who has come to live under the Bridge and Alder Bay.