In the simplest terms, it’s a variety show. In real terms, it’s a little more than that.

Love Alive is the finale for a Brave New Works season based on the theme of living art, and promises something different from previous offerings at the Yukon Arts Centre or Baked Cafe.

“When you come to Love Alive, you’ll come to the front, you’ll pay $10 and then you’ll get a stack of blank paper,” explains Lauren Tuck, the show’s producer and artistic director of Brave New Works.

“At the end of every single snippet of show, we give the audience five minutes to write their comments for the artist, and we collect all that.”

The audience comments are meant to help the artists of Love Alive grow and refine their pieces. This has been the philosophy of Brave New Works since Trace de Jaray, Gail Lotenberg and Andrea Simpson-Fowler originated it in the late 1990s, Tuck says.

“Brave New Works is all about giving artists, mostly new artists, emerging artists or artists showcasing new work, an opportunity to do just that,” she says.

“We’re all about getting audience feedback in our performance shows. It really allows people an opportunity to showcase new stuff.”

While Tuck handles the season’s overarching theme and general direction, responsibility for managing showcases falls to the individual artistic directors. For Love Alive, Tuck chose Claire Ness.

The Whitehorse native and artistic jack-of-all trades already had experience putting together her own variety shows, as well as the Solstice Cabaret and Coldspell for the Arctic Winter Games.

“I picked Claire because Claire is a force of nature,” Tuck says.

Lauren Tuck (l.) and Claire Ness share a vision of Love Alive PHOTO: Claire Ness

“When I think of people who I want to work with I think of people who are innovative, who are inspired, people who are artistic, people who are reliable. That’s how I feel about Claire, so I chose Claire and she chose me.”

“I chose her for the same reasons,” adds Ness. “It’s so cool to be so behind what somebody does. We’ve been doing it together. Lauren’s the overall vision and I’m theunderall vision.”

Both women know what it’s like to build a show, and to be in front of an audience.

“We are working with a lot of new artists, says Tuck. “We have a background in performance as well so we’re able to help create a safe place for them to showcase their work.”

The artists of Love Alive will bring a bit of everything to the stage. There will be dance, spoken word pieces, songs, improv, video and circus elements.

In keeping with the commitment to showcase new artists, Tuck engaged local playwright and dramaturge Celia McBride to coach the artists through the process of building an idea into a presentation-ready piece.

“One of the most rewarding things about this show is seeing the way that people hone their craft and change,” says Tuck. “I’ve seen people go from A-Z, honestly, in just a matter of weeks from working with the dramaturge.”

That evolution is not meant to stop once the curtain goes up. Love Alive’s audience-driven elements ensure that the pieces will change during the performance. Ness considers the Wood Street School location an ideal place to bring the audience into the thick of things.

“Wood Street is a pretty cool venue that’s usually reserved only for MAD students. It’s a great room, and it will allow for a very different vibe from the last show, working on a way to arrange the audience that’s a lot more implicated, interactive, close, intimate””

The final pieces, raw or polished, ready or not, will go onstage May 16 and 17. Ness will be onstage emceeing the show.

Live theatre being live theatre, anything can—and often will—happen. For Ness, that’s one of the best parts.

“I think it makes it feel more alive when something goes wrong. Just lets you know, ‘Hey, you’re at a live show. This ain’t TV.'”