By Gareth Watkins
In 1981, Kate Bush and David Bowie (R.I.P.) rented a secluded mansion in a remote part of England to make an album together. They didn’t, but pretend that they did. Thirty years later, two super-fans of Kate and Bowie rent a secluded cabin the Canadian wilderness both to recreate the iconic (entirely fictional) collaboration and salvage their failing marriage.
That’s the premise of Theatre Replacement’s Kate Bowie, a collaboration between the Vancouver-based theatre company and Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit (OYR founder Blake Brooker is directing.) The show is a something for a departure for TR, an ongoing collaboration between Maiko Yamamoto and James Long, which has often been autobiographical.
“We try to turn this idea of ‘performance’ on its head,” says Yamamoto, “and let things be transparent and reveal themselves, while at the same time being concerned with what the audience is experiencing with us. We’re not anchored to some idea of what a narrative would be.”
The project spun off from an attempt to use Bowie and Bush’s lyrics as a text from which to derive a full play. Both musicians are highly theatrical, always occupying characters and telling stories, so they’re a natural fit for the stage. The idea evolved into Kate Bowie, a (relatively) straightforward scripted piece starring Yamamoto and Long as an art-pop loving couple.
“That quickly evolved into the idea of artistic collaboration — what it would be like to have (Bush and Bowie) working together. At that time we had just hit our ten-year anniversary (as Theatre Replacement) and Jamie and I had just hit our 18th anniversary of working together. That’s a long time, and we became interested in looking at our own artistic collaboration and the idea of conflation, what happens when you have worked with someone for so long that you can no longer see yourself.”
Blake Brooker sums the play up as a “love mystery” as opposed to a romantic comedy. Using the personas of David Bowie and Kate Bush the couple can explore their relationship one step removed from their problems, introducing a layer of obfuscation that the audience has to pierce. That play between identity and artifice is so very Kate and so very Bowie, and should make for incredible theatre.
Kate Bowie runs Jan. 20-23 at the Vertigo Theatre Centre (The Studio) as part of One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo.AB, Alberta, David Bowie, High Performance Rodeo, High Performance Rodeo 2016, Kate Bowie, Kate Bush, Vertigo Theatre