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Troupe inspired by unusual venues

PREVIEW Impulse Theatre's The Path Where: English Inn, 429 Lampson St., Esquimalt When: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m.

PREVIEW

Impulse Theatre's The Path

Where: English Inn, 429 Lampson St., Esquimalt

When: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., today through July 26

Tickets: $15 ($12 student/ senior/youth) at the door

Real estate agents aren't the only ones who recognize the importance of location.

Impulse Theatre, a young local company that blends dance with theatre, regularly takes inspiration from its surroundings through site-specific performance.

"It's taking outdoor, unusual venues and turning them into a place where an audience can enjoy or be challenged by theatre or even dance," said artistic director Andrew Barrett.

The 22-year-old, who just graduated from the University of Victoria's theatre program, founded the company in 2010. As its title suggests, it was an impulsive move - he and two friends decided to perform on a rock in James Bay and have continued creating works since.

Barrett has staged sitespecific shows in Banfield Park, on the Selkirk Waterfront, at Point Ellice House and at the fountain outside UVic's library. The company has also performed in more conventional theatres, through Intrepid Theatre's You Show, the Fringe Festival and Light on Our Feet.

Tonight, they'll take theatre into yet another new venue: the gardens of Esquimalt's English Inn. They created The Path onsite, while exploring the natural environment and sharing whatever pieces of myth it inspired, which Barrett edited into a story.

"The story of The Path follows a being called Lamia, who was created out of humanity's need to break the shackles of the gods who control life and death," said Barrett. "So The Path is her last-ditch plan to fulfill her objective, what she was born to do."

The cast of 13, composed primarily of UVic theatre students, will perform in Barrett's signature hybrid theatre-dance style.

"I like to call it physical storytelling," he said. "Because it's movement based, but there's always a story there."

Barrett, who grew up on Saltspring Island, named as mentors performance artist Ingrid Hansen of SNAFU Dance Theatre and Connie Cooke, artistic director of the Victoria School of Contemporary Dance. He also said the year he spent at the Gulf Island School of Performing Arts instilled a belief in genre-crossing performance.

"I found that really influenced how I create theatre, because it was a very collective ensemble," he said.

The students, who concentrated in theatre, dance and music, would come together at the end of the year for a collectively created work.

"So we'd all learn how to meld it together and kind of break the [division of], 'This is a dance show; this is a theatre show; this is a music show,' " he said.

While physical storytelling and site-specific performance have been fairly consistent characteristics of Impulse Theatre productions, the future is flexible.

"I didn't start out with a goal or destination for the company and I still don't have one, which I find very liberating," he said.

asmart@timescolonist.com