New company explores the many faces of love

Mob Hit evolves into DeFakto

“Running a company a theatre company has always been a dream of mine” says Parvis Ramirez — and now that dream is a reality. Ramirez is the artistic director of DeFakto Theatre Company the reinvention of 14-year-old Mob Hit Productions.

Ramirez has known Mob Hit founders Lawrence Leong Allie Lewis and Ted Lach for years and was invited to be part of a rebranding discussion last fall. That conversation however turned into an acknowledgement that it was time to pass the torch.

Ramirez acknowledges that some of the challenges that faced Mob Hit were financial which will be challenges for DeFakto too.

“You get to a point where you can’t keep making art for art’s sake for the love of it; you have to start thinking of it as a business” he says. “Where everybody saw just a lot of work I saw an opportunity.”

Ramirez is optimistic and the newly minted DeFakto is keeping some of Mob Hit’s familiar faces (Claire Bolton Cassandra Uhlenberg and Sarah Wheeldon Gemmell) as associates. “Everyone was on board that they wanted to continue the company everybody from Mob Hit was on board” he says. “I’ve never run a theatre company let alone transitioned from another one so it’s been a bit of a learning curve. But I’m super excited.”

DeFakto may echo some of Mob Hit’s interdisciplinary aspirations such as including dance in their productions but in most ways it will be a distinct company with its own mandate of telling original relatable stories.

“There’s going to be a lot less reliance on the classics. I love doing the classics but I find it gets a little esoteric” says Ramirez. “A person should go [to DeFakto] and find some sort of relevance to their lives.”

DeFakto’s inaugural production has undergone significant evolution itself. Originally conceived as a movement piece based around The Decemberists’ album The Hazards of Love the production was deemed too ambitious by Ramirez considering the transition the company was going through. Instead the initial idea morphed into a 75-minute play Hazardous Love written by Ramirez himself.

The final product is non-linear. “I don’t particularly like your traditional ‘A leads to B leads to C ta-da’ storyline” says Ramirez but “there is a loose plot line.” The play rolls out in vignettes all in some way related to love telling the story through a series of unnamed characters (played by Kate Holley Nathan Johnson Simon Tottrup and Alicia Ward).

The staging is simple and the characters are costumed in neutral beige. “What I want is for people to impose themselves on the actors” says Ramirez. “We are kind of like those people; we go through life stumbling along figuring it out as we go.”

For example anyone over a certain age will probably be able to identify with a scene about puberty; and a scene with two men portraying an older couple will likely resonate with many couples in the audience.

“The major theme is love the idea of love and whether you’ve been in love or not you at least have an idea of what that might be” says Ramirez.

As part of making the story relatable Hazardous Love starts off light even silly with a nod to Dirty Dancing and canny audience members will pick up Ramirez’s Quentin Tarantino references. By the end the fourth wall blurs and the audience will be directly addressed by the play. “Bird & Stone is tiny so why are we going to pretend they’re not there?” asks Ramirez.