Tottering Biped Theatre
By Trevor Copp, Artistic Director
When I chose the name ‘Tottering Biped Theatre’ I didn’t realize that ‘biped’ wasn’t a familiar term for so many people. Consequently, I talk about the name often, which in turn brings me back to why I picked the term which struck me as ideal almost 10 years ago. It’s from an anthropologists’ study on the human skeleton, in which they concluded that the human structure isn’t complete or ‘finished,’ that our status as a ‘biped’ is an in-process fact – which explains why we tend to revert to being quadrupeds with age (stooped posture, cane, walker…).
This was the inspiration to build a company around art as a process, where completion is a point on the horizon
So the basic act of standing upright requires collaborating effort; it is a conscious process that we must engage with or we will slowly collapse. This was the inspiration to build a company around art as a process, where completion is a point on the horizon rather than a bogus label on the work because it’s opening night.
This translates into a company whose year-to-year calendar is itself always evolving. Our projects tend to be multi-year endeavours whose point of origin changes according to the project: we did a ballroom dance theatre piece that began from a movement study, a physics inspired piece that started with lighting experiments, and yes, even an adaptation from a novella which started as text. We tend to enter different phases of creation that focus on a language used in the piece (movement, text, lighting…) which will then fold back and inform the piece as a whole. Some seasons are heavy on presenting and touring, some on process.
All that being said, even this model is subject to evolution. The dance-theatre piece First Dance was created, toured, and seemed over when we presented a TED Talk emerging from the piece; that TED talk has since been touring internationally. It surprised us as much as anyone, and it’s pointing to different futures than we’d imagined. We’ve also been surprised to work in more traditional models; in the summers, we have carved out a space for annual Shakespeare interpretations. So our formula is changing all the time, both within how our work comes into being and what the actual work is.