Theatre Encounter’s How to Win Friends and Influence People – Review

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Dale Carnegie was an American writer and lecturer who developed training courses on self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, and public speaking. He is most famous for his first book How to win Friends and Influence People. Theatre Encounter for their newest production have adapted Carnegie’s book into a multidisciplinary live art performance by the same name.
There isn’t a concrete narrative that the production follows, it is more small pieces that are held together with the themes from Carnegie’s book. The production features artists Val Duncan, Elan Pratt and Emily McCourt and incorporates the Japanese movement style Butoh as well as sound design (by Zach Peterson) of operatic metal.

As is the style with Butoh, the production features playful and grotesque images. How to win friends and influence people includes an infomercial for the RapeEx 3000, a brooch that will ‘take care’ of your annoying coworkers. The play also tells of a couple managers who come straight out of Glengarry Glen Ross.

The production takes place in the Artbox on 17th Avenue and this location has some issues. Artbox has pillars and the sound bounces off the concrete walls, making sight lines a bit difficult at times and blurring the acoustics. Theatre Encounter has brightened up the space with projectors in every corner, with running images that tie into Carnegie’s themes of sales and business.

Theatre Encounter’s production is creative and a bit out there. This isn’t a typical play. But it features some major talents from all three performers and is a great mix of Butoh and movement theatre. I’m not sure that Dale Carnegie would approve though.

How to win Friends and Influence People, a multidisciplinary live art performance by Theatre Encounter plays at the Artbox until March 29th. More information is available online.

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