The Art of Building a Bunker is a dark, viciously funny story recounting a week in the life of your average Elvis as he endures mandatory workplace sensitivity training. Elvis struggles to meet the demands of Camerson, the sensitivity traning leader, and to work with the group that surrounds him without revealing anything about what he really feels or believes. His struggles culminate in a radical oration delivered on the last day of the course to the sensitivity group, workplace colleagues, as well as international luminaries of sensitivity like Nelson Mandela, Geddy Lee, and Malala.
Created for Toronto’s SummerWorks 2013, Verdecchia explained to Colin Thomas of the Georgia Straight the impulse to create Bunker: “We were just looking around the city and at the culture generally,” Verdecchia said – remember that Rob Ford was Toronto’s mayor at that time – “and there was a kind of incivility in the air, which I think is still there. It seems like it’s permissible to say things that you couldn’t say before, like ‘Fuck her right in the cunt,’ or whatever guys are saying on television.” (Verdecchia is referring to the phenomenon that reporter Shauna Hunt very publicly challenged recently.) “There was also this incredible anger on the web, YouTube videos with people ranting about their situations or about Obama—a lot of Americans. They seemed like really disenfranchised folk who were stewing in their anger and fear. And that struck us as really interesting. Adam and I genuinely want to ask about what is permissible.”
Bunker is to be played by one virtuosic actor.
Guillermo Verdecchia is a writer of drama, fiction, and film; a director, dramaturge, actor, and translator whose work has been seen and heard on stages, screens, and radios across the country and around the globe. The author, or co-author, of, among other works, The Noam Chomsky Lectures and Insomnia (with Daniel Brooks); Fronteras Americanas, The Terrible but Incomplete Journals of John D., bloom; A Line in the Sand (with Marcus Youssef), and the controversial Adventures of Ali and Ali and the Axes of Evil (with Camyar Chai and Marcus Youssef). He is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Drama, a four-time winner of the Chalmers Canadian Play Award, a recipient of Dora and Jessie Awards, and sundry film festival awards for his film Crucero/Crossroads, based on Fronteras Americanas and made with Ramiro Puerta.
He lives in Toronto with Tamsin Kelsey, his partner of many years, and their two children.
Awards and Recognition*
Chalmers Canadian Play Award (1997) A Line the Sand with Marcus Youssef
Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, Community Recognition Award (1994)
Chalmers Canadian Play Award (1994) Fronteras Americanas
Governor General’s Award for Drama (1993) Fronteras Americanas
Governor General’s Award for Drama, Finalist (1992) The Noam Chomsky Lectures with Daniel Brooks
Chalmers Canadian Play Award (1992) The Noam Chomsky Lectures with Daniel Brooks
Chalmers Canadian Play Award (1990) i.d.
"Laughs galore…A delicious state of unbalance…Lazarus gets under our skin and settles there."—Drew Rowsome, My Gay Toronto
"Unexpected insight into the concepts of human fear, and vulnerability"—Justin Haigh, Artsvox.ca
"A tour-de-force...truly provocative."—J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe & Mail
"Pleasantly amusing and smartly satirical."—Robert Crew, Toronto Star
"The chuckles here are rarely easy or comforting, and sometimes the most unsettling ones are the most revealing."—Jon Kaplan, NOW
"Lazarus and Verdecchia do not soft peddle."—Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter
"Lazarus and Verdecchia do a great job of yanking at our cringe strings in a way that’s both thoughtful and entertaining."—Lauren Stein, Mooney on Theatre
"Explores incivility ... The Art of Building a Bunker pisses some people off, but it’s also getting rave reviews. 'I come out the other end feeling all stirred up and a little bit ecstatic,' Verdecchia says, describing his own experience of viewing the show. 'I have a different relationship to it, being one of the creators, but I like the fact that many people find it unsettling, and I also like the fact that people like the fact that they’re unsettled.' " —Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight
"An engrossing spectacle."—Steve Fisher, Torontoist.com
"Layered, funny, timely, angry, disturbing."—Glenn Sumi
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