100 Watt Production STUFF: A Heartfelt Comedy Exploring the Impact of Overconsumption

Review by Emma Peterson 

On Wednesday, May 1, I had the honour of watching 100 Watt Productions’ brand new play, “STUFF”, at the GCTC. The play is directed by Kristina Watt Villegas and has a cast of lively and talented actors that make up the 100 Watt Youth Ensemble, who have been artists in residence at the GCTC for the past two seasons. STUFF is meant to explore, well… our stuff, and how we and the environment interact with it. It is about the ethics behind the things we own, how they relate to the environment and what determines whether something is important. I think the show captures this and more through its humour, dramatic moments, and courtroom-style setup. STUFF takes an in-depth look at our society through the lens of a teen organization looking to purge the world of stuff we don’t need. The concept of the play is intriguing, and I was looking forward to seeing how the story would unfold on stage.

STUFF follows a group of teens who volunteered to be a part of the TTF (Teenage Task Force), and who, together with their fellow members from across the globe, set out over a 365-day period to eliminate things we don’t need from the world. The TTF’s plan is to listen to each item’s defence (why each one believes it provides an essential service to humans). The TTF then casts a vote and each item is deemed to be either “stuff approved” or “stuff removed”. This plan falls apart when none of the stuff shows up and, instead, they send prepared statements to show why they are still needed. Now, the members of the TTF have to represent the stuff, while navigating their own biases and emotions. 

STUFF progresses through its 365 days at a quick-pace. Through the “trial”, we get to see each character’s viewpoint of the stuff they own, how it affects the world, and what deserves to stay. Each TTF member has a specific role in the group, like “Fact Checker” (Adele Harden) or “Peacekeeper” (Sophie Dean). The characters are very passionate, and the actors embody the stuff they represent. I thought that the play was sometimes overly loud, and I found the amount of yelling to be a little overwhelming, which overshadowed some of the more impactful moments. The plot and acting made up for it though. I also found the set to be very intricate and help characterize, not only the individuals, but also the world being made. The actors used up the space and made it feel alive. 

Before attending STUFF, I was able to interview Watt Villegas and the cast. Many of the cast members talked about their experiences and feelings while making a play about the relationship of our stuff to the environment. It was apparent how passionate they are about the issues in the play. The actors put their hearts into portraying their distinctly different characters in a funny and informative way, and they are each rewarded with an opportunity to stand out during their personal monologues. These monologues often helped to provide varying views of the events during the scene. There were many times where I was challenged by something I had not previously thought of because of these monologues. All the actors in this play, especially Sébastien Cimpaye (as the Keeper Of The Manifesto) and Taiya Peckham (as the Archivist), who had very information heavy roles, gave entertaining performances while still conveying the information in an effective way. The whole cast is amazing and maintains a balance between humour and their raw emotions. This is where the play really shines to me; I often found myself impressed with how the actors were able to demonstrate these different emotions and feelings, specifically when William Mann’s (Ambassador) character struggled with how his passion for music could fit into this new world.

STUFF covers a lot of nuanced topics and does not focus on just one viewpoint. The play never patronizes the audience or makes you feel guilty for enjoying your stuff. The actors present the audience with facts, opinions and the consequences of having stuff. They force you to think about how your decisions affect the environment, instead of partaking in blind consumerism.

When I interviewed Watt Villegas, she said she wanted STUFF to connect with people of all ages and I truly think she accomplished this. I recommend STUFF for anyone who is worried about the environment and who wants to challenge the way they think. It is a comedic play with a lot of emotion and heart put into it by not only Watt Villegas, but all the actors. I think it’s important for people to see STUFF because, whether we like it or not, our world is being negatively impacted by overconsumption. I found STUFF to be thought-provoking, entertaining and informative, with amazing acting. I am very glad to have been able to see the premiere of this show; I can’t wait to see more of what 100 Watt Productions has to offer. 

Click here for more information about 100 Watt Productions and click here to see what GCTC has planned for its 50th anniversary season.