Performance Art

Grensgeval (Borderline) A theatrical exploration of the refugee crisis.

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

GRENSGEVAL – 71e FESTIVAL D’AVIGNON –
Texte : Elfriede JELINEK –
Traduction Tom KLEIJN –
Mise en scène : Guy CASSIERS –
Chorégraphie : Maud LE PLADEC –
Scénographie, costumes : Tim VAN STEENBERGEN –
Lumière : Fabiana PICCIOLI –
Vidéo : Frederik JASSOGNE –
Son : Diederik DE COCK –
Dans le cadre du 71e Festival d’Avignon –
Lieu : Parc des Expositions –
Ville : Avignon –
Photo : Christophe RAYNAUD DE LAGE –

Grensgeval   (Borderline).Based on Les Suppliants by Elfriede Jelinek.
Directed by Guy Cassiers, choreography by Maud Le Pladec, A Toneelhuis, Antwerp production.

Migration, refugee crisis and crossing borders are among the most pressing political, social and economic issues of today’s Europe. The situation is alarming and confusing both on the level of everyday life and politically, with many people in power trying to manipulate public opinion against refugees. Politically aware artists are actively engaged in searching to contribute to their audiences’ better understanding of the new world. They seek appropriate artistic language to discuss atrocities that refugees experience and to speak to their spectators’ compassion.
Guy Cassiers is one of these engaged artists. An artistic director of the Toneelhuis in Antwerp, Cassiers has been looking into the issues of migration for the past several seasons. He not only focusses his programing on this topic but also creates events aimed at educating the subscribers to his theatre about the new European conditions,  seeking to engage refugees to be more actively involved in the cultural life of Antwerp.
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Avignon: Unwanted. Symphonies of Pain part 1

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

UNWANTED –
Conception et chorégraphie : Dorothée MUNYANEZA –
Artiste plasticien : Bruce CLARKE –
Musique :
Holland ANDREWS –
Alain MAHÉ –
Dorothée MUNYANEZA –
Scénographie : Vincent GADRAS –
Lumière : Christian DUBET –
Costumes : Stéphanie COUDERT –
lieu: Villeneuve-lès-Avignon –
Photo: Christophe Raynaud De Lage

Batsheva Dance Company’s “Last Work”: Ohad Naharin researches the performing body.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

bat89C_0727 Batsheva photographer Gadi Dagon

Photo: Gadi  Dagon

At first, we are intrigued by the evolution of these young bodies in space:  disarticulated, disjointed, straining muscles in unusual directions, in opposition to what happens to bodies executing existing dance steps. Dance has repossessed the human body in a way that makes  unhuman demands on the living human creature and opens a new world.

Choreographed at first as  individuals, each dancer  crawls, lopes, twists, leaps, floats in from the wings,  opposing  the  rhythms and movements of the preceding dancer, just to give us the feeling of the enormous possibilities of the human body in this investigation of what can take place in a performance space.  Then groups form and reform,  as all around them the fluttering and twisting of slim, elongated and  finely muscular creatures jerking in and out, up and down, below and above,  create a parallel dialogue with the  electronic sound effects and highly dramatic music.   There is so much excitement, so much activity that  our gaze  keeps  shifting around the stage, picking up individual movements, noticing  other bodies  regrouping, almost as though we were  watching the trembling of some  nervous cellular activity under an intense microscope.

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Bach, Glen Gould and María Muñoz in perfect symbiosis at the National Arts Centre!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo. María Muñoz, courtesy of the NAC

One would not be mistaken if one defined  María Muñoz as a  performance artist as much as a dancer. Her research with her collaborator Pep Ramis in the context of the production company Mal Pelo is clearly determined by the meeting of musical performance, by the creative links between lighting and space as well as by the transformative use of film that locates the dancer’s body on a screen at the back in a new mode of corporeal dialogue with these multiple elements.  Her moving presence on stage is fluid and beautiful to watch. It reveals baroque order juxtaposed with searing emotion, passages of strength and flowing romanticism. It appears to be responding to the rhythms of the allegro, the presto and the andante time signatures of the preludes and the fugues based on Glen Gould’s interpretation of portions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier integrated into her work. In fact, we almost have the feeling Gould is really in the wings, mumbling over his keyboard as his fingers fly at a phenomenal rate.

It could be the way the dancer anticipates the arrival of a bass note reflecting the specific instrument style that Gould’s playing clearly imposes. During certain pieces, by lifting her hand in short clipped movements, she retrieves gestures of resistance or  gestures of a chef d’orchestre ready to interiorise the whole piano performance and retain the rhythmic and emotional energy of that event. It could also be the moment when the music fades and Muñoz is left on her own in the silence of empty space. Whatever takes place, Muñoz calls up the haunting softness of an ethereal being literally possessed by these multiple forms of expression who speak to each other and propel her body forward on the stage.

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Boom provides comfort for those afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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Photo: Richard Leclerc.

Is Boom more flash than substance? It may seem churlish to ask that question, given the undeniable
vitality and creativity that have gone into Rick Miller’s panoramic look at the Boomer generation over a quarter century of change.
Indeed, in his capacity as writer, director and performer, Miller does secure his credentials as a mercurial and engaging presence as he whips us through the decades. So Boom is an achievement of sorts — and definitely a collective one.
That often translucent pillar dominating the stage of the NAC Theatre is essential to the multi-media impact of a carefully planned entertainment in which state-of-the art projections and a seductive soundscape integrate with Miller’s own endlessly shifting persona to evoke the shapes and textures of another era.

Booming through a kaleidoscope of memories of a generation

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo: David Leclerc

The sound booms book-ending Rick Miller’s packed ride from 1945 to 1969 are the world-changing release of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

The baby boomers, born, raised and living through those tumultuous years, are invited to relive their memories through Miller’s lens, a combination of multi-media flashes, impressions (some more successful than others), comic twists and the stories of three people with very different backgrounds: Miller’s mother, Madeline, originally from Coburg, Ontario; Laurence, an African-American draft dodger and jazz pianist; and Rudy, an Austrian who immigrated to Canada after the Second World War to become an advertising executive and illustrator.

As well as the kaleidoscope of political, cultural and social events with which Miller’s Boom bombards us, replays of advertisements of the period — oddly amusing from the perspective of the 21st century — remind us just how much times have changed.

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Boom: superficial approach to history but a superb performance by Rick Miller!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo David Leclerc

The long awaited Boom directed, written and performed by Rick Miller is both seductive and questionable, especially as it purports to be a cultural history of the Baby Boomer generation that will incite young people to become interested in their own stories as well as world history. It turns out to be an amalgamation of various narrative structures that function in different ways, some are successful and others much less so. Rick the actor begins by introducing us to a film of Maddy his mother, projected against a huge pole of light that stands in the centre of the stage. This is the background against which all the floating images, the films, the lighting effects and the great mass of visual information will unfold during the evening. Structured by chronological time (1945-1969), the stage event becomes, the story of Rick’s own life told through fragments of historical information and personal experiences by multiple voices whose identities are not at all clear and who splinter the whole narrative into so many pieces it is difficult to locate any kind of centre.

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Tomson Highway Sings in the Key of Cree

News from Capital Critics Circle

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Retrospective cabaret celebrates the music and wit of award-winning storyteller,  SPEAKeasy Collective presents Songs in the Key of Cree, a one-time musical tribute to the multitalented Cree playwright, author, storyteller and musician Tomson Highway on December 12 and 13, 2015, at Hugh’s Room (2261 Dundas St. W). The evening will showcase the musical achievements and unique wit that have garnered Highwayfans around the world.

A master pianist, composer and songwriter with a repertoire spanning three decades, Highway’s music takes inspiration from a wide range of styles, including country, Brazilian samba, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill and French Canadian folk songs. In addition to his Order of Canada, the Juno-nominated performer was named one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history by Maclean’s magazine.

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TACTICS 2015: Highs and lows abound in interdisciplinary productions from emerging performers

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

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TACTICS is an independent, collective series that features work by emerging and professional performers. The plays occur in short runs ––no more than a week in length—and so audiences will have to rush to the theatre if they hope to catch the performances before the next shows take the stage. It goes without saying that original performances and emerging artistry are vital parts of a theatre community. With that mandate comes the potential for some really great or really bad theatre, and the first weekend of this TACTICS series exemplifies this divide.

The first show of the evening, (off) Balance, is the brain-child of Naomi Tessler who both wrote the piece, and acts in the production. The stage is fairly bare and a large, red cloth circle outlines the playing space. This one-woman, autobiographical piece employs monologue, dance, and a live music; the musician sits outside the red circle, and plays African drum and chimes alongside the performance. But even with the intervention of Bronwyn Steinberg’s direction and dramaturgy, the production is underwhelming.

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Tactics’ Programming at Arts Court

News from Capital Critics Circle

2015-2016 TACTICS Programming

November 13-21, 2015      (off) Balance by Naomi Tessler
                                             & feelers by Amelia Griffin
January 22-30, 2016          A Little Fire by Megan Piercey Monafu
March 11-19, 2016             Perfect Pie by Judith Thompson
April 22-30, 2016               Woyzeck’s Head, produced by Third Wall Theatre

All events take place at the Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Avenue, K1N 6E2
8pm performances Wednesday to Saturday
2pm matinees on the first Sunday and second Saturday of each run
Panel discussions and other community engagement events are scheduled for the Mondays or Tuesdays during the middle of the production runs.
2015-2016 Season Subscriptions are now on sale on ArtsCourt.ca/TACTICS at $85 for General Admission and $65 for Student/Senior/Artist. Single tickets for each production are on sale for $25 for General Admission and $20 for Student/Senior/Artist.

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Past Reviews