Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
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.
January 12, 2017 Thursday at 11:12 am
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
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.
April 15, 2016 Friday at 1:58 pm
Reviewed by Jamie Portman
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.
March 2, 2016 Wednesday at 1:46 pm
Reviewed by Iris Winston
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.
February 27, 2016 Saturday at 2:32 pm
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
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.
February 27, 2016 Saturday at 9:55 am
News from Capital Critics Circle
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.
November 19, 2015 Thursday at 3:00 pm
Reviewed by Kat Fournier
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.
November 17, 2015 Tuesday at 12:27 am
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.
September 9, 2015 Wednesday at 7:11 am
Reviewed by Patrick Langston
The city may be an indifferent, sometimes cruel place. But it can still harbour grace and love even if you’re an almost-obsolete robot infatuated with an office worker who’s as much a misfit as you. That’s the ultimately hopeful upshot of Nufonia Must Fall Live!, the gentle puppet-show-with-a-difference by Eric San, a.k.a. Montreal-based scratch DJ and music producer Kid Koala, that’s been making a splash at home and abroad since it debuted last year.
Based on his own 2003 graphic novel and soundtrack Nufonia Must Fall, San’s multidisciplinary show employs real-time filming of more than a dozen miniature stages and a cast of white puppets, with the video projected on a screen at the rear of the stage.
The audience can make out the puppeteers and camera people as they go about their business on stage. Koala and the Afiara Quartet provide live — and alternately sad, lush and disquieting — music on piano, strings and turntables at stage rear. (more…)
August 10, 2015 Monday at 4:52 pm
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
In this postmodern time of fluctuating categories and unstable definitions, it becomes exceedingly difficult to pass judgement on recent works of art because there are few fixed categories that allow us to define anything. Everything is defined by its own logic and this is what happens when one is faced with Post Eden by Jordan Tannahill who rejects theatre practice that has preceded his own research. The only way to react to this piece is to let ones emotions flow and say “that made me feel good”, it was “fun” , it was “entertaining” or else that was irritating I didn’t like it, even though I can’t really say why. Those kinds of remarks are self-indulgent and not useful if one is trying to understand what Tannahill is doing.
We might begin with an interview published by Patrick Langston in the Ottawa Citizen (April 14). The journalist quotes Tannahill who speaks about “taking risks” because when something is projected into a performance space that has not been carefully subjected to some form of theatrical mediation, the risk of mistakes, or confusion, or sloppiness even failure is clearly there. But all that contributes to Tannahill’s sense of theatrical “liveness” which he pushes to the ultimate degree. . Theatre is anything that happens with real people in front of an audience and by heavily mediating the actors, the production (through a specific script, direction, blocking, lighting, costumes, multi media elements, time and spatial limits, all those conventions of the stage ), theatre is no longer a situation of pure “liveness”, it becomes a construction, an entity that is false, artificial, not a place of risk-taking and Tannahill wants to take real risks.`
May 8, 2015 Friday at 3:51 pm