Watch "Venti Organ Transplant"
What is the play about?
Venti Organ Transplant is a 10-minute play about two siblings. Hannah is just about to start her shift at a coffee shop when she gets a Skype call from her brother, Chip, who has been missing for months. But Hannah soon realizes this is no ordinary call: Chip is in a cult--and that if he doesn't get out real soon, he's in grave danger. She works to convince him he must escape.
Why I wrote it:
This play started as an exercise with Toronto Cold Reads. I've continued working with it because I'm interested in opening up issues of mental health and objective reality.
Chip is definitely in a cult, but he accuses his sister of being the one who is brainwashed; because she uses "coffee shop" lingo, he thinks she is "dependent", part of the system. Chip wants to be independent and stand on his own--but he can't see that he's profoundly needy; he derives his whole self from a cult that's about to lead him to the slaughter.
There's an objective reality to the situation: one of these people is really in a cult and the other is not. Chip is just projecting his fear and confusion, accusing everyone else of being the deluded ones while he's actually gullible enough to believe anything the cult leader says.
The play is comedic, but I also think of it as standing up for the idea of a shared, scientific reality. People are easily suckered by the idea that they have access to some special, "organic" truth the mainstream doesn't want them to have--and ironically they think they're the only ones who aren't falling for something.
How it Plays with Sense of Place:
This play is actually about a Skype call, so it lends itself to a socially-distanced production. But we also wanted to capture the performances in a way that would help emphasize the idea that Chip is isolated and trapped, while Hannah is out in the world: she may have an unglamorous job, and that does constrain her in some ways--but she's still much more free than her brother.
So we recorded Chip only through Zoom, but then met together outside (in accordance with social distancing rules) to get some shots of Hannah at her coffee shop. The contrast communicates the difference between Chip's small, dark environment and Hannah's access to civilization.
Meet the Cast & Crew
David Straus (Chip)
David Straus is a professional actor/acting teacher, and writer. He’s produced and performed in a number of his own plays, including two for the Toronto Fringe Festival. As well, his short play 'Simulationship' premiered in the Short Short Play Festival and was later produced in Manila and Sydney as part of the global Short+Sweet Theatre Festival. His short film 'Keepsakes' premiered in the Female Eye Film Festival. Currently he is working on a sci-fi short film and a musical among other projects.
Katisha Shaw (Hannah)
Kat Shaw is a Toronto based actor and voice actor with ACTRA Canada, represented by MMA. She has an extensive background on stage including Northumberland players dinner show "The Fox on the Fairway". She can currently be seen on tv in a handful of commercials and shows including Saxenda, HMR Health, Sculpt my Body, and Contrave, Discovery's See No Evil. She is also an official selection in three national and international short film festivals with a short called Watching.
Glenn Clifton (Writer/Director)
Glenn Clifton is a playwright, fiction writer, and academic living in Toronto. He has a PhD from the University of Toronto and an MA is Playwriting from Boston University. His short plays have been produced in Canada and the United States, including in the Toronto Fringe Festival. Currently, he is at work on a collection of stories about life in the internet era. He teaches literature and creative writing at Sheridan College.