Praxis Theatre is guest curating the 10th anniversary HATCH Season in 2014. We are very excited about this partnership. The experience Praxis Theatre had at HATCH creating Section 98 in 2010 was integral to our development as a multi-platform performance creator.
HATCH is designed to incubate and foster invention and innovation in performance practice and over the past decade has become a vital laboratory for development within the local performance ecology. The opportunity to work and experiment with support and resources from Harbourfront is a significant one.
For a decade, HATCH has empowered many of Toronto artists to push the boundaries of contemporary performance including: Erin Shields, Anita Majumdar, Joan Kivanda, Brendan Healy, Hannah Moscovitch, Small Wooden Shoe, Trevor Schwellnus, Jordan Tannahill, Jess Dobkin, Philip McKee, UnSpun Theatre, Reena Katz, and Derek Kwan.
For HATCH 2014, we are particularly interested in projects that experiment with how social media can be used artistically in creation and performance. The deadline for applications is July 12, 2013.
Ame Henderson and Evan Webber in Dedicated to The Revolutions (HATCH 07)
We invite projects from emerging creators as well as established artists engaging in new collaborations or entering into new artistic territory. Performance proposals from artists working across all disciplines, including, but not limited to: dance, theatre, performance art, music, digital art, etc. are encouraged. Of specific interest are proposals that demonstrate how HATCH will benefit the development of the project and the artist.
In addition to providing mentorship over the course of a year, HATCH enables the concentrated experimentation and incubation of an idea that culminates in a public presentation, recognizing how vital audience feedback is to the creative process. Companies and artists selected to participate in HATCH will receive a one-week residency in the Studio Theatre, located at Harbourfront Centre.
The Studio Theatre is an intimate, 192-seat proscenium venue featuring a full lighting grid, raked seating and sprung stage floor. Use of the residency period is at the discretion of the artist and needs of the project (i.e. workshop, rehearsals, performance, etc.) but there must be at least one presentation of the work for the public at some point in the week.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes woke Watson up and said: “Watson, look up at the sky, and tell me what you see.” Watson replied: “I see millions and millions of stars.” Holmes said: “And what do you deduce from that?” Watson replied: “Well, if there are millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth out there. And if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.” Holmes said: “Watson, you idiot, it means that somebody stole our tent.”
A dark, playful fairy tale about a fairy prince. As the unnamed protagonist in his new solo show, Stewart Legere weaves together tales of a doomed relationship, a trip to Italy gone wrong, and a mysterious fascination with El Camino Santiago de Compostella, an ancient walking pilgrimage through France and Spain. Working through fear, awkwardness, and shame, he charms, cajoles, pushes and pulls, provokes, and consoles his way through stories of love, loss, and the complex struggles of a young queer couple dealing with internalized homophobia.
Greta gets under a Classic Ontarian Loon Blanket with Amy Lee Lavoie to discuss Stopheart’s journey to the Factory Stage.
Stopheart runs until May 26th at the Factory Theatre.
Greta Papageorgiu is an actor, teacher and director. She has taught and performed in Ontario, Quebec and Germany. Her next class starts September 10th at The Fringe Creation Lab. For details go to meisnerwithgreta.ca.
Context matters. A gesture means one thing here and now and another thing entirely there and then. My choices happen in a context – a relationship to history and influence. I don’t have to acknowledge the context or even admit it’s existence to myself – but it’s there all the same. Others, with their own contexts, will perceive them.
The same is true for influences. We all have them and our work reflects that. We can work in opposition or adulation or both. This is true whether or not we know it, whether or not we know who influenced our influencers. This can be paralyzing, but it can also be liberating and empowering.
Understanding the relationships between current practices and the past is important. For me (and that will be the starting place for this seminar) understanding the relationships between the New York downtown scene and Grotowski reveals meaning and possibility. Drawing lines between Video Cabaret and Joan Littlewood and Brecht tells me something about who I am as an artist. Reflecting on all these connections in their specific times and situations inspires me to see my time and place clearly and be able to best respond.
In talking to theatre and dance makers over the past few years, I’ve expressed and heard a desire to share and learn more about contexts and influence. Specifically, Jordan Tannahill at Videofag and I got to talking about a seminar series where we’d read some articles, listen to podcasts and watch some video and make some connections between lines of thought in contemporary theatre and contemporary living.
Also, I’m a bit of theatre nerd when you get down to it and what’s the good of having all these books and links if I don’t get to share them?
Context Seminar: (non-Main)Streams of thought.
A mangled journey through influence and Western theatre — Centuries 20 and 21. Led by Jacob Zimmer of Small Wooden Shoe with a couple guest spots.
Funny to be writing this as Morris Panych and Kelly Nestruck argue over what kind of context is important to a production. Panych’s dishonest question “How can we address this paradox of a thing being both now and then[…]?” is, despite himself, a great question – especially for a festival like Shaw.
How much discussion of “Why this play now?” happens in the meeting rooms or the rehearsal halls of the festival? And what are the contexts and influences discussed? ↩
Dr. Andrew Irving looks at stories differently than most people. Whereas many would think of their life story as a series of events, Irving spends more time thinking about what is skipped over. “Storytelling is like walking,” he suggests, “It’s not a straight line.” Rather, you skip over non-noteworthy events with each step.
Irving has spent many years collecting the stories of those affected by HIV and Aids—always concerning himself with the gaps between words. His ethnographic work frequently centres on death, and particularly, the inner worlds of those facing their own mortality or that of another. How do these people move through space and interact with the world as they undergo “radical changes in being, belief and perception” in confronting the end of life? And how do those thoughts and actions affect other people they happen to come across? These are the questions Irving’s research has explored in Kampala and New York, respectively.
During his talk in April at the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography Symposium at York University, Irving introduced us to Sandra, an HIV activist from Uganda. Her story is a fascinating one, and it demonstrates Irving’s process of identifying how one’s outward performance of their inner life directly alters the lives of those around them.
Sandra grew up in a hotel where her father worked; it was a nice home. At age 17, she eloped with her boyfriend—who turned out to be a Ugandan spy—and moved into a crowded army barrack. She disliked the place and they eventually moved into a slum community of Kampala with their newborn daughter. One day, her boyfriend returned home, walked past her into the house without a word, and revealed to her that he had tested positive for HIV. He had undergone routine testing as part of his military training in Cuba. He died eight weeks later. Then his family took Sandra’s baby away from her.
This is the story Sandra recounted to Irving, not just verbally, but also by leading him through each of the significant spaces: the hotel, showing hime the fence through which she and her boyfriend would talk until the early hours of the morning; the barracks, where she likely contracted HIV; and their home in Kampala. She concluded the story-tour at bed #9, the hospital bed in which her boyfriend passed away. The site Irving was most concerned with for the purposes of his talk, however, was a piece of grass where Sandra recounted this story to a group of activists from around the world on September 11, 2001.
One of these activists was a woman named Emily visiting from New York. Later in the day, she walked out of her room and turned right just as Sandra came out of her room and turned left. Their conversation at that moment went something like this:
Emily – By the time I come back next year I hope you’ll have gotten your daughter back.
Sandra – I’m not sure I’ll be around next year. My health is getting poorer, and I don’t think I have much time left.
Emily– Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.
The two women parted, neither having any idea that hours later the World Trade Centre would be struck. Emily’s father worked in the second tower. As soon as she heard the news, with no chance of a Ugandan phone call reaching New York in the midst of the chaos, the women at the retreat came together to dance, chant and pray for the well being of Emily’s father.
He did survive. As it happened, he had been out of his office that morning. When Emily got the news, she went to Sandra and told her that her father would pay for her retroviral medication, so she would live to see her daughter again (at this point, according to Irving, retroviral meds cost four times the monthly salary of a university lecturer, making them inaccessible to most of the continent).
Both Sandra and Emily recounted this same story with large degrees of difference both in terms of where, spatially, this final conversation took place, and in Emily’s motivation (in Sandra’s version, there was far more of a religious impetus—in Emily’s version, she acknowledged that she’s an atheist, but nonetheless felt as though the women’s actions “did something”), but the facts are the same:
Had Emily walked out of the door that morning and turned left, Sandra would now be dead.
Had Sandra walked out the door and turned right, she would be dead.
Had Emily’s father been in his office and killed during the September 11th attack, Sandra would be dead.
This story highlights the large consequences of small, everyday, even subconscious actions—events that Irving sees as exposing the limits of contingency between individuals. These contingencies, suggests Irving, inevitably bring us to the limits of logic and into the realms of the uncanny, the inexplicable, and the metaphysical. When we reach these points, the only response is to pencil in a narrative that ascribes meaning to the events.
According to Irving, there are three ways in which we shape the events of the world:
1) Trying to make the future known—trying to affect agency over future events 2) Retrospectively—making meaning out of past events and acting accordingly 3) Turning right and left
Take Neil from New York as another example. He lived near a drag cabaret restaurant at West 52nd Street called Lucky Chengs (which has since closed.) This was a bathhouse when Neil arrived in New York—it is also the place where he believes he contracted HIV. So, as revealed to Irving during another personal-narrative walking tour, Neil quite often walks two extra blocks on his way to the subway station so as to avoid walking past Lucky Chengs—a move that often puts the memory of that place more firmly in his mind by consciously avoiding it.
From the experiences of Sandra, Emily, Neil and others, it became clear that so many of our external, performed actions are based on these inner worlds and private narratives.
There is so much to learn about the visible world from our invisible motivations and vice versa. Quite simply: Neil’s thoughts shape his interaction with the city, which in turn, shapes the urban environment itself. This reality got Irving asking a simple question of the people he encounters on the street: what is this person thinking?
Inspired by Joyce and other modernist writers who explore the city through inner monologues made up of perpetually inchoate thoughts, Dr. Irving took to the streets of New York to examine the city through its residents’ inner lives in a project called New York Stories: The Lives of Other Citizens. He asked strangers to wear a microphone and continue on their way while speaking their thoughts out loud.
The resulting recordings are complex tales of people preoccupied with everything from their friend with a recent cancer diagnosis to the smell of noodles wafting onto the sidewalk. What I find most interesting is the different timbre of dialogue as the strangers move through different spaces. The project purposely looked at different environments—parks, intersections, bridges, etc—all revealing a unique rhythm both in thought and action.
Inner worlds remain largely unaccounted for in the humanities and social sciences, and since thought/emotion/sensation is simultaneous, the project of charting it at any given moment is quite impossible. But the hope is that in accessing even glimpses of interiority, it might be possible to see more than half a story—to fill in the gaps between the words, and the space that is stepped over.
Kallee is a graduate student in theatre and performance studies at York University. She’s most interested in the intersection between contemporary choreography and neo-liberal politics, and has a cat named Lucy.
Spring is in the air and creative juices are flowing. Below are three videos created by local socio/political talent taking the world into their own hands and making things happen.
1 Trailer for Sarah Ruhl’s The Passion Play
The Passion Play is a massive collaboration between three local indie companies (Outside the March, Convergence Theatre, & Sheep No Wool Productions) who have been laying the groundwork for some time to create epic indie conceived and created production(s).
2 Dave Meslin talks RaBIt on The Agenda
Ranked Ballots are coming to Toronto. Click here to read the proposed timeline of Municipal and Provincial votes that will bring this much needed empowerment to local democracy. Watch the video to see Mez call Steve Paikin a “nerd” and get away with it.
3 The Harold Awards are here
Since 1995 The Harold Awards have come to represent the independent and hard-working spirit of Toronto’s vibrant theatre community – a kind of rabble-rousing alternative to the Dora Awards. To be Harolded is an honour of the highest subversive order.
This year the Harolds are on Monday May 13 at The Monarch Tavern. Hosted by Richard Lee & Lindy Zucker. Tickets only $10 at the door. Follow The Harolds for updates on Facebook and Twitter.
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”