Sometimes, when I think of theatre, I’m tempted to imagine aristocrat types wasting time and money to watch something more than a little pretentious. (And, sometimes, I’m right). And certainly, there’s a nagging impression of theatre nowadays that it’s for an older generation, and that the problems are no longer relevant.
Which is why I find things like Ugly Button Productions so exciting.
Ugly Button Productions (UBP) is a theatre company run by young adults, and aims to express some of the serious or taboo subjects of modern life in new and unique ways. In its proposed debut production On The Edge, the company takes a serious look at some of the devastating effects of depression. It doesn’t just want the audience to see these effects, but fully experience them—confronting the audience with some ideals they may not be comfortable with. As Michelle Bozzetto, the president of UBP, told me about the play:
On The Edge is going to give audiences a very different look into the life of someone living with depression, someone who is able to rationalize the idea of suicide. It’s a concept that many people cannot fully understand unless they themselves are living with the illness…we hope to raise awareness and help eliminate the stigma of mental illness in general through this experience of theatre.
However UBP’s aim isn’t just to help raise awareness about serious issues like depression. Bozzetto and her team want to help encourage young adults to take a more keen interest in the performing arts, and to show how creative outlets like theatre can be relevant for everyone. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you want to do, UBP is out to prove that there is a place for you. As its mission statement on the website says: ‘Think of us like a jar of mismatched buttons. We may not fit in where we belong, but put us in that jar and we’re a completely unique and extremely colourful group of individuals who inspire each other to shine!’
This is why I find theatre companies like UBP so interesting. Theatre was always a huge inspiration for me, and Bozzetto, as she told Good News Toronto, was moved to join the performing arts after watching musicals at a young age. She is now using that same source of inspiration not only to encourage others to join theatre, but to also address major issues that plague modern society. This is what I feel theatre is all about.
The expected cost to produce On The Edge is around the $4,000 mark, and after two fairly successful fundraisers they have already raised more than $500 (with 10 percent of all proceeds going to the mental health charity To Write Love on Her Arms “as a more direct mode of helping the people who do have to live with depression”). More details about upcoming fundraisers and ways to donate to UBP can be found on its website, as well as its Facebook and Twitter pages.