Outside The March creates a theatrical state of emergency in Toronto

Presented by Outside The March
Sponsored by Theatre Passe Muraille
Written by Rosamund Small
Directed by Mitchell Cushman
Performed by Katherine Cullen

Katherine Cullen stars as Anna in Outside the March's Vitals. Photo by Mike Barlas.

Known for bringing audiences deep into the subject matter of the work they present, Outside The March is creating Toronto theatre buzz again this month with their new site-specific show Vitals by local playwright Rosamund Small. Based on real interviews conducted with Toronto EMS workers, the piece explores the high-pressure reality of paramedics through the eyes of Anna (Katherine Cullen), a matter-of-fact, level III paramedic who has seen her share of accidents and injuries.

Vitals begins outside of Solarski Pharmacy (149 Roncesvalles) where audience members are given headsets, plastic gloves, and asked to respond to an emergency call at a house a few blocks away. When we arrive, a shaking paramedic points a bloody hand toward the backyard where boxes containing various items relating to the stories inside the house are waiting to be discovered.

Anna walks us through a day in the life of an EMS worker, speaking frankly about the job, and even offering audience members coffee and donuts during one encounter. The rest of the time we are led through the house by Anna lookalikes or "First Responders" while Anna talks over the radio on our headsets. Designer Anahita Dehbonehie tells a different story in every room of the house: evidence of eating disorders, drug addiction, suicide, violence and child abuse carefully woven into the fabric of the set.

In one particularly memorable scene, the audience bears witness to a suicide from the vantage point of an upstairs window while a clock counts down from the garage window below (eight minutes and 59 seconds—the amount of time an EMS worker has to respond to a call), a haunting reminder of the time Anna failed to save a jumper at Castle Frank station.

Cullen brings great wisdom and toughness to the role of Anna, convincing in her eventual despair and self-reflection. The ensemble of First-Responders (Nicole Buscema, Zoe Danany, Ximena Huizi, Hannah Kaya, Dayna Miller, Rashida Shaw, Vanessa Spence and Jean Webb) are highly effective in heightening the shell-shocked atmosphere as well as practical in moving the audience through the story. The experience will forever change the way you think about 911 calls.

Eerie, interactive and full of unexpected twists, Vitals is a potent reminder of both the strength and fragility of humanity, and how much we have to be thankful for. Don't miss this urgent, out-of-the-ordinary theatre experience. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Tue, 2014-04-29 - Sun, 2014-05-25
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