Tess Degenstein in “Blind Date,” an Arts Club Theatre Company production coming to Surrey Arts Centre from Jan. 9 to 19, as part of a regional tour. (submitted photo)

A ‘Blind Date’ in Surrey for Mimi, a clown looking for ‘love’ with willing audience members

Actor Tess Degenstein mingles pre-show in search of a perfect on-stage partner

This month, at Surrey Arts Centre and other theatres across the Lower Mainland, Tess Degenstein is out to find a number of “dates” willing to be on stage with her.

As Mimi, the Regina-raised actor stars in Blind Date, a play that includes elements of clown, improv comedy and, in an interactive twist, social experiment.

At the start of the semi-scripted show, each and every time it’s staged, Degenstein sets out in search of a partner among audience members.

“Essentially there is a mingle in the lobby, so half an hour before the show, people are coming in and grabbing a drink, giving their coats away,” Degenstein explains in a video posted to the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Youtube channel.

“We are mingling around me, Mimi, and the scenographers are all out mingling around, chatting with people, getting to know them. It’s kind of like we wanted to have a cocktail-party atmosphere, so it’s just a bunch of people, they are welcoming you to the theatre and and saying hello, getting to know each other.

“So while we are doing that, while we are mingling in the lobby, we’re also just looking for that person, those few people that we might feel a bit of a spark, a bit of a connection – kind of like if you were at a dinner party or a cocktail party, who would be the person that you would strike up a conversation with and then think, you know, get some chips or whatever and then think, ‘Oh, who I want to go back and talk to that person, they were really interesting, they were fascinating, there’s something there.’”

Once inside the theatre, Mimi doesn’t reveal who her date will be until the show begins. What happens for the next 90 minutes is anyone’s guess.

“There’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of in terms of us selecting our date, selecting the gentleman that we will have come up on stage with us during the show,” Degenstein noted. “It is, for us, very important that we get, first of all, their consent, and if they have a partner, their partner’s consent, so no one is going to be surprised by being asked to be on stage. It will always be something that we have asked beforehand.”

Since Rebecca Northan created the show in 2009, Blind Date has been staged more than 700 times in Canada, the U.S. and England.

“The thesis of Blind Date has always been, ‘Everyone is loveable,’” Northan states in an Arts Club release. “There is great joy in leaning forward in your seat and watching two strangers attempt to connect. It’s what being human is all about.”

There are now four women trained to play Mimi in the original Blind Date, as well as two other actors who star in Queer Blind Date.

“There is so much I love about doing the show,” Degenstein says. “I think that it’s just so much about empathy, and it’s about the audience having this elevated sense of empathy because they are seeing one of them up on stage. You can really feel their hearts just open and with the gentleman who’s up on stage with us.”

At Surrey Arts Centre’s main stage, Blind Date opens Wednesday, Jan. 9 and closes Jan. 19, as part of a month-long regional tour. “Value-added performances” in Surrey include a First Friday date (Jan. 11), Paint at the Play (Jan. 12), Talkback Thursday (Jan. 17) and VocalEye audio description for those with vision loss (Jan. 19, 4 p.m. show). For tickets, call 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca.

The show’s regional tour, which kicked off in West Vancouver on Wednesday (Jan. 2), includes dates in Mission (Jan. 6), North Vancouver (Jan. 8), Coquitlam (Jan. 22-26), New Westminster (Jan. 29), Chilliwack (Jan. 30), Maple Ridge (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1) and Burnaby (Feb. 2-3). Tour details are posted at artsclub.com.

The Arts Club production involves Degenstein along with Lili Beaudoin (scenographer/Mimi), Ali Froggatt (scenographer/Mimi) and Jeff Gladstone (scenographer). The creative team includes Marcie Januska (sssociate producer), Meredith Johnson (stage manager and sound improviser), Northan (producer) and Christopher Oldfield (associate producer).

CLICK HERE to watch video of Northan describing the show she created.

Beyond Blind Date, the Arts Club’s next show at Surrey Arts Centre, from Feb. 20 to March 2, is a production of Circle Game, which reimagines the music of Joni Mitchell.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Two women recognized for multiculturalism, anti-racism work in Surrey

Awards ceremony held on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

VIDEO: One person in hospital after head-on crash in Delta

Ladner Trunk Road between 80th and 72nd Streets is closed. Police say to avoid the area.

Homeless deaths in Surrey quadruple between 2007 and 2016

Deaths in the city spiked in 2015 from the previous year

Surrey’s truck survey closes Sunday

‘Sustainable solutions for authorized commercial truck parking’ sought

Sunny’s Bridal in Surrey to showcase at Vancouver Fashion Week

Business got its start in south Vancouver in the 1990s

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Vancouver Giant named to Western Conference first-tier all-star team

Young hockey defenceman Bowen Byram is once again lauded for his outstanding efforts on the ice

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

North Delta happenings: week of March 21

Events, courses and clubs listings for North Delta

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

Most Read