CBC’s Mainstreet’s Moira Donovan previews Zuppa Theatre’s remount of the Pop-Up Love Party by hosting a conversation with Stewart Legere and Dr. Eli Diamond. Read “Pop-Up Love Party brings Plato and pizza to Halifax’s north end” below, or at cbc.ca.
Greek philosophers and good wine might seem like a pairing more suited to antiquity than the present day.
But Halifax’s Zuppa Theatre Co. has adapted Plato’s Symposium — the ancient philosopher’s rollicking dialogue on love — for the present in a performance that highlights the Symposium’s social side.
“We’re basing it on the idea that [the Symposium] was a drinking party,” said Stewart Legere.
The performance is directed by Alex McLean. Legere, along with Ben Stone and Susan LeBlanc, will perform personal interpretations of the Symposium’s six speeches at Mother’s Pizza in north-end Halifax, March 15 to 19.
Those speeches will be accompanied by a seven-course snack menu, representing in flavour the thesis of each speech.
‘It’s in our DNA’
Now in its second year, Pop-Up Love Party — which also features music by Legere as well as yoga led by LeBlanc — is a new premise. But the subject of the show is as old as time itself.
“Love basically is as old as the earth, it’s in our DNA,” said Leblanc.
That begs the question: would Plato himself have approved of the performance?
Eli Diamond, an associate professor of Classics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University, said that if Plato were alive today, he would definitely be feeling the love.
“What they do with the Symposium is so true to Plato’s intention,” Diamond said.
And Plato’s intention, he says, is to show how the spark of physical love — in all its bawdy, rambunctious glory — can lead to something higher.
“Those sparks are where our journey to real goodness and beauty can and must begin. [Plato] sees all kinds of philosophical potential in our everyday erotic experiences,” he said.
A ‘profoundly thoughtful theatrical experience’
The sincerity of intention isn’t the only connection Diamond sees between Pop-Up Love Party and the Symposium.
In his own time, Plato’s chief philosophical opponents were rhetoricians who clouded the truth with gilded words, much like advertising campaigns selling an idealized vision of love today.
Plato was similarly suspicious of theatre, but in this case, Diamond said Plato would make an exception.
“This is such a profoundly thoughtful theatrical experience.”
And this thoughtfulness, Legere says, comes down to the fact that whether it’s explored through six speeches or seven courses, the idea of love will eternally provide food for thought.
“The simple word ‘love’ can hold as much as we put into it, which is why every night we can fill a room with an audience and it’s always different — because there’s infinite space inside that idea,” Legere said.