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TO THE ARTS, CITIZENS! : Social Mediation through the Arts

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Nasty Shadows Explore Nature of Evil in Monster

Jacqueline LeBlanc Cormier, Congress 2011 Team

Scott Shannon has many faces. He’s a misfit, an addict, a needy girlfriend, and a neglected son. But most of all, he’s a riveting storyteller.

Shannon is the lone actor in the Nasty Shadows Theatre Company’s latest production, Monster. And, although he’s all alone on stage, he fills the room with colourful characters, an intense narrative and plot turns that keep the audience guessing.

Written by the award-winning Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor, Monster is a one-man show that explores the nature of evil and questions the possible link between media images of violence and actual crimes. One actor transforms into a series of characters whose lives are eerily related, taking the audience on a spellbinding ride.

Taking the words from the page and putting them on stage took a lot of skill. Shannon developed a specific demeanour and voice for each of his personae, making each character switch seamless.

“Each character has a certain way they talk and a certain physicality to help identify them,” Shannon explains. “Sometimes it’s relatively quick. In one scene, there is a conversation between five different people and although you’re alone, you have to make it look like it’s five different people talking.”

Nicholas Cole, the show’s director, says MacIvor’s writing also helped maintain clarity during dialogue driven scenes.

“The strength of the story really brings you in,” Cole says. “What Scott is doing when he’s embodying each character is really quite muted. [The characters' quirks] are slight tweaks of him as a regular person, but the strength and the quality of those characters come through in how real the dialogue is. MacIvor has an ear for picking up what people actually say when they’re talking and what they really mean.”

When the Nasty Shadows Theatre Company was approached to perform a one-man play for Congress, Shannon suggested Monster to Cole. It didn’t take much convincing.

“It’s not often that I read a play and sit completely gape mouthed at the end,” Cole says. “The show has a lot of twists and turns and a little bit of mystery as well, but it’s also a really engaging piece of writing, let alone performance.”

Cole says it’s fitting to have live theatrical performances at a gathering of liberal arts scholars.

“It’s hard to find another art form that has visual, oral and academic pursuits and ideas all meshed together into one space,” he says. “Theatre is not just for people who like stories. It’s not just for people who like cool and interesting things in front of them. It’s for everybody. Theatre is the bargain bulk deal of everything that’s good about life thrown into a one or two hour adventure.”

Listen to an excerpt of the play here.

The Nasty Shadows Theatre Company will be presenting Daniel MacIvor’s Monster on Sunday, May 29 and Tuesday, May 31 in Memorial Hall, UNB, at 8pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and are available at the door. For more information, please see:

Photo courtesy of Diane Cole.


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