When the lights go up on the latest production of Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare, it will be the third version playwright Joseph Aragon has seen come to life.
Bloodless is a musical that tells the story of two Irish serial killers from the early 1800s who discover a medical school will pay for corpses for their anatomy classes...no questions asked.
The show had its first performances at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2009, and opened Theatre 20's season in Toronto last fall with a much larger budget than Aragon is used to.
Theatre 20's cast of Bloodless performs in Toronto. (Riyad Mustapha)
"I think I'm still in denial about how much money they poured into it. In short, it was a dream come true, that's what every playwright works toward, a full-fledged professional production with top notch actors, and sets you don't have to strike."
Aragon says that while watching the production was a bit surreal, it also helped reinforce that he's on the right path. "It definitely gave me a lot of encouragement, the faith that people had in the show that they were willing to invest that much time, effort and resources into it was very humbling."
Its latest incarnation, produced by White Rabbit Productions with an all-Winnipeg cast, won't be quite as lavish budget-wise, but Aragon doesn't mind.
"I get to see it in a different context on a different scale. As great as the Theatre 20 show was, I'm looking forward to seeing it in a more intimate venue. I want it to be scalable, and play just as well to an audience of 80 as 800."
Aragon is also well aware that while this particular show has already seen three unique productions, may playwrights never even get one. And having multiple opportunities to see his work interpreted by different actors, companies and musicians provides him the opportunity to tweak things.
"I've heard estimates of how long it takes for a musical to become fully developed, it's about seven years or so and Bloodless
is only at year four. It's still evolving, it's still growing. In the Fringe it was still experimental, the real work comes three of four years later as you're rewriting."Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare runs at Cercle Moliere Theatre April 24-May 4, 2013.
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