- Where Is Theatre Going?
This slideshow explores the question that is at the heart of this issue: Where is theatre going?
In an attempt to grapple with recent innovations in the field, we have asked important performance makers and presenters from across the country to send us their thoughts on productions they have seen that embody the type of work that will define the Canadian theatre and performance landscape of the next 15 years.
In what follows, artists from across the country reflect on new formats of performance production and reception, and offer us a glimpse of a few shows recently staged in Canada that have seemed especially innovative, visionary, zeitgeisty, future oriented, and predictive of emerging trends. In the process, they reveal their own political preoccupations and creative obsessions, many of which resonate strongly with those of other artists found in the pages of this issue of CTR and hint at the routes through which certain performance ideas travel through local, national, and international art ecologies. Each of these short, passionate, and manifesto-like musings is accompanied by a vivid production photo. Taken together, they illustrate how performance’s futures are concretized through the visually and sensorily rich material dimensions of artistic practice.
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Karine Sauvé is a puppeteer and colleague who I have known in Montreal for many years. She works often as a performer in theatre for young audiences (Des mots d’la dynamite, Théâtre le Clou) but has been developing her own practice as an interdisciplinary performance installation artist for many years, and finally last year came out with her first full-length creation for young audiences called Les Grands-Mères Mortes, or The Dead Grannies. She developed the piece with composer Nicolas Letarte, who is well known for his image-based theatre creations (e.g., in his work with Théâtre de la Pire Espèce), and playwright David Paquet, who won a Governor General’s Award for his first play, Porc-épic.
Les Grands-Mères Mortes is a piece for children about death, about our dearly departed. At the very beginning of her process she met with children in Canada and France and had them write beautiful letters (in many languages) to their dead relatives. In the play, Karine tells the story of her friendship with her grandmother and two of her grandmother’s friends; she plays instruments at times and quietly manipulates sophisticated images. These are challenging images that demand interpretation, that speak in metaphor, and yet at the same time succeed in making kids smile, laugh, and quietly listen.
The play combines theatrical writing, contemporary sculpture and installation, music, and puppetry. My favourite image is when Karine dumps $500 worth of silly putty out of a life-sized mould of a human body. She drags the droopy pink figure onto a bright red chair and puts a party hat on the place where the head would be. Throughout the performance, the body oozes over the chair—slowly evaporating from a figure to a pile of unrecognizable matter. The figure is, of course, meant to represent Karine’s own grandmother, Therese. The party hat is to celebrate her birthday.
Karine is unique in presenting to young audiences an image vocabulary that is both totally accessible and yet slightly anarchic. She makes the assumption that children can appreciate contemporary visual art and then weaves a compelling and touching performance with it.
She is an emerging artist (or rather her company, Mammifères, is still brand new), but I think she represents future directions for theatre for young audiences and for theatre at large.
—Clea Minaker, puppeteer (Montreal)
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Sea Sick is a captivating lecture performance by writer Alanna Mitchell—a self-professed non-performer who risks stepping well outside her own comfort zone to bring us an urgent, environmental (and personal) story about the world’s endangered oceans. Sure, you could also read her (excellent) book...