Ambitious artists examine angry teens
Theatre should change the world. At least that’s the conviction of Cody Campanale and Ben Carson, two young artists and founders of Lesser Men Productions.
The recent Canterbury High School grads discovered that despite their passion for the arts and drive to create meaningful theatre, the opportunities weren’t always there. So they decided to create the opportunities themselves.
“We’re guerrilla artists who are young and upcoming and ambitious. There’s nothing that’s acceptable except the best from us,” explains Campanale.
But the two business partners aren’t interested in producing theatre for theatre’s sake, and while they appreciate comedy and lighter artistic fare, they’re out to produce shows of a darker, more thought-provoking nature.
“Art should create an emotional response and bring you something that can change your life,” says the energetic Campanale. “There are a lot of issues that young people should be addressing and there’s nothing wrong with soft subject matter, but we wanted to discuss deeper issues.”
The company’s debut production, opening at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, is a good indication of just how seriously they take their artistic ventures.
The play, The Distance From Here, by Neil Labute, is a bleak examination of a group of angry teens on a path of self-destruction.
It’s unapologetic, grim material, and a challenging choice for any theatre company, let alone one comprised of a production team and cast whose ages start at 16 and max out at 26.
Campanale admits the play is a bold choice, but says he and everyone else involved want to demonstrate that just because they are young doesn’t mean they are apathetic.
“One of the problems with youth is that we don’t put enough thought into the future or what our world is going to be like years from now,” says Campanale.
“This play works because (Labute) puts you in the most uncomfortable spot he can and leaves you there to think. It provokes thought and that’s why we want people to see it.”
The Distance From Here opens Sunday at Academic Hall.
For ticket and schedule information on the play, visit the website www.ottawafringe.com.