EVERY TIME I SEE YOUR PICTURE I CRY, by Daniel Barrow

The SummerWorks Theatre Festival presents:

EVERY TIME I SEE YOUR PICTURE I CRY

by Daniel Barrow

Composer: Amy Linton
Featuring Daniel Barrow

Computer-and-Eyedrops.screeEverytime I See Your Picture I Cry’ sold out at it’s run as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage/Images premiere in 2008, and awarded the Images Festival Prize. SummerWorks is proud to be bringing this unique work back to the city. Don’t miss your chance to see this ground-breaking, absurd, magical show that mixes live animation and performance like no other artist in Canada.

After seeing this piece at Vancouver’s PuSh Festival, SummerWorks Artistic Producer, Michael Rubenfeld, knew it needed to be a part of the SummerWorks Festival. Beloved by visual arts and film/video communities, Daniel Barrow is still relatively unknown to Canada’s theatre communities. This is all about to change with this special SummerWorks presentation.

Theatre Passe Muraille MAINSPACE (16 Ryerson Avenue)

August 7th 4:30pm
August 8th 10:30pm
August 9th 6:30pm
August 11th 8:30pm
August 14th 8:30pm
August 15th 2:30pm

All tickets only $10.00

Advance Tickets ON SALE NOW:
http://www.artsboxoffice.ca
416-504-7529

Interview Series – Carnival Knowledge

Birgit Schreyer Duarte from TWINWERKS’s “THE PIANO TUNER” interviews Rob Faust about his production

CARNIVAL KNOWLEDGE

1. I am new to this genre, puppet and mask theatre–but your work as presented on your company website looks very intriguing. What drew you to this art form in the first place?

Carnival Knowledge3

The seeds of my mask career were no doubt planted in my youth growing up in New Orleans wearing masks on Mardi Gras day every carnival season. But it was years later, after discovering dance and theatre, that I eventually found my passion for making masks and using them in performance. Only recently has Faustwork Mask Theatre started to work with puppets in earnest; and still we are just eccentric characters playing with our ‘toys’. I’m sure good puppeteers cringe when they see Faustwork’s our brand of ‘playing-with-toys’ puppetry.

2. Can you define what it is that sets your work with masks and puppets apart from others who work in this niche? (Or is it a niche??)

Usually the masks come first, and the performance piece comes after. I was a dancer/choreographer first, a theatre improv afficionado next, and a mask maker/creator of theatre pieces third. So the ‘writing’ of a piece comes from improvising; from the mouths of half masks; from dancing and moving and playing. Then I write (and re-write ten times) words on a page. I’m not sure; maybe I’m not alone in this way of working.

3. It sounds like this play, Carnival Knowledge, is partly autobiographic. Could you tell me more about the link between this show and your own personal experience?

The link couldn’t be more direct. I do characters in this show who are real people I’ve known, others who are types from New Orleans, and others who are broadly speaking ‘me’ at various stages of my life: altar boy, team captain, hippie, and dancer. New Orleans itself is almost a character in Carnival Knowledge. It’s a piece I’ve wanted to make for a long time.

Carnival Knowledge24. What is Carnival Knowledge about? What kinds of issues are you exploring with it? How would you say this can be done better by a mask show than a “normal” actor performance?

New Orleans is odd racially. There’s still a lot of bigotry and racism, but there’s also a lot of love going on face to face between black and white individuals. So I’m looking at the difference between race to race and face to face. The masks are compelling, produce a heightened state of reality. I can wear the mask of a black man, leave my white neck and ears and hands showing and allow the audience to go with the illusion or not. The influence on white on black and black on white right literally in view. And…with masks I can BE a crowd on the street watching a parade go by.

5. What does a “typical” creation process look like when you develop a new show? Do you prefer to start with the image of the masks or the plot or an overall theme or kernel of inspiration?

Mask, plot, and theme take turns finding the in shape of a piece. I have dozens and dozens or masks staring at me, all the saying “please Rob take me off the wall and wear me, let me mix it up with some of my neighbors up here. The masks that speak the loudest suggest a theme at some point; plot and story are developed later as the masked characters start to move, discuss, and play with the themes.

6. In what ways are collaborations with other artists (what some of your past shows seem to have been) on puppet shows different from working on performances with “regular” actors? Do you remain the key designer for the puppets or do you open the creation process up to others in that field as well?

99% of what Faustwork does is with masks rather than puppets. So far I am the sole mask maker, since I’m willing to work for 32 cents an hours for days on end, to create masks that might be used in four years, or never. I love that time alone with the clay and the tools and the paint. Where I need help is with the playing and the developing of the business for stage.

Carnival Knowledge17. Are there noticable differences in the puppet / mask theatre community in the United States and in Canada? How would you describe their specific qualities, if there are any?

I don’t really see a difference between the US and Canada in that regard. The Scandinavian countries do great, highly polished, great puppet theatre with high production values.

8. What other media / art forms / individuals / cultural influences inspire your work?

Inspiration comes from many sources: the mirror, friends, sculpture, photography, cartoons, people on the street, time spent in Bali, Balinese and African masks, dreams, a desire to make people laugh, the need to address my own contradictions, and the overriding desire to play.

9. What would you like the audience of SummerWorks to take away with them after seeing your show?

I want people to feel looser, broader in their own identities, that is, to get in touch with parts of themselves that don’t get much air time. I want people to laugh and think and cry. (I don’t ask much, eh.)

10. Do you have any special connection to Toronto and/or its theatre community?

I moved to Toronto for love, and now I love Toronto. I greatly enjoy the people mix, the life of little villages all over town, the wealth of food and arts, and the efficiency of my bicycle and public transportation. One of the reasons I applied for SummerWorks was to get more involved with the theatre community here. Over the last 8 years I’ve done far more work in the states, where I got started, and now I’m hoping to open doors here in my new “home town”, make new shows to do here, make masks for other companies, collaborate, be in other people’s show.

BAND PROFILE: MIRACLE FORTRESS

BAND PROFILE: MIRACLE FORTRESS

by Carmel Garvez

MiracleFortress

Miracle Fortress came into fruition when Think About Life co-founder Graham Van Pelt decided to write and record a solo project that would favour his love of arrangements. But it isn’t always a one-man band. On stage, Sunset Rubdown’s Jordan Robson-Cramer, Telefauna’s Adam Waito, and SS Cardiacs’ Jessie Stein join Van Pelt to form a full band.

Five Roses, released in 2007, have been hailing praises by critics everywhere and was subject to a lot of blog-love. And rightfully so.

The record in its entirety is a fusion of “happy accidents” as most of the songs are based on sampling. Heavily influenced by The Beatles and The Beach Boys, Van Pelt has successfully attained the euphoria and romance that are infused with the sounds of the aforementioned.

You know when you fall in love, you get excited and your heart races, and there’s butterflies in your stomach. If such feelings were warranting a soundtrack, Five Roses would suit it perfectly.
My guess is if everybody listened to Miracle Fortress enough, World Peace might actually happen!


Catch Miracle Fortress with Karkwa, Thursday, Aug 6th at the Theatre Centre. Van Pelt will also re-appear in Think About Life with DD/MM/YYYY the next day – Friday, Aug 7th.  advance @ rotate this, soundscapes, artsboxoffice.ca, 416.504.7529

Interview Series – The Ecstasy of Mother Teresa or Agnes Bojaxhiu Superstar

Bembo Davies (“Forget Zis” Experiment) interviews Alistair Newton, director and creator of:

The Ecstasy of Mother Teresa or Agnes Bojaxhiu Superstar

• This production is conceived as the third element of a trilogy depicting various forms of religious service, how did the proposal to explore the life and myth of Mother Theresa occur?

Pastor Phelps Project

Pastor Phelps Project

It was partly discovering a book by Christopher Hitchens called The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice and part of it was a memory of my younger-self: I remember when Diana Spencer (the so-called People’s Princess…I guess Divine Right of King’s Princess doesn’t fit as nicely on a T-shirt…) died in the same week as Mother Teresa and I was one of those who railed on and on about how it was a travesty that everyone focused on the glamorous lady Di at the expense of pious Mother T (I’m sure you remember such people…). The genesis of the trilogy itself (which began with last year’s SummerWorks production of The Pastor Phelps Project followed by my Ecce Homo’s Rhubarb Festival production of Leni Riefenstahl vs the 20th Century) came when the Dalai Lama said he thought homosexual love was immature and needed to be grown out of. I was embarrassed not just because of the fatuous thing he had said, but because I had always regarded him as being morally and politically beyond reproach (ah, youth…). I suppose this set of three plays is my atonement for past acts of wanton credulity. I grew up without religion and I think because of that, I’ve always been fascinated by religious fundamentalism. I already took on socially unacceptable extreme Christianity (old Pastor Fred) so I wasted to explore the opposite end of the spectrum and wrestle with the acceptable – though no less terrifying – fundamentalism. I guess I’m just a sucker for that old time religious demagoguery…

• The world is full of true nuns labouring at the very edge of subsistence; do you give yours a fair shake?

It’s funny because I managed to have a drink with Hitchens while he was in town speaking at the ROM and I asked his advice on this same question about fairness and balance. He said, “It’s not about being fair. You’re an artist: give them your opinion and they will give you theirs”. I agree. That being said, In Ecce Homo Nietzsche says, “I never attack people – I make use of a person only as a kind of strong magnifying glass with which one can make visible some general but insidious and quite intangible exigency.” The show is much more about the nature and political ramifications of saintliness, and deals with Mother T’s crisis of faith. I think most people would look at the facts and say that Mother Teresa is a symbol of love, hope and charity in a cynical world and Agnes Bojaxiu (her given name) could possibly have been a nasty fundamentalist who said things like “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion” and likened condoms to murder. I think it’s much more likely that Agnes was just as flawed a human being as the rest of us, and the real problem was Mother T, the Catholic Fundamentalist Superstar. My very favourite Catholic Priest – Sinead O’Connor – said “Through their own words, they will be exposed/they’ve got a severe case of the Emperor’s New Clothes”. Every line of dialogue in the play is an actual piece of found text, so if Mother T comes off badly, it’s largely her doing (though the production numbers and blasphemous puppet ought to help…).

chess3• Does it concern you that the very fact of this production will be used by her proponents to propel the beatification of Holy Agnes?

Interesting question! I should like to think that the Vatican keeps up with my artistic projects but I doubt it…though I suppose slander and persecution by heretics (of which I proudly count myself) has always been a prerequisite to Sainthood.

• In the current usage, your company name Ecce Homo denotes a concern for minority sexual practitioners. Your topic invites us to be carried to the very real world of Albania and Calcutta, do we in fact get much beyond Queen Street?

Firstly, I have to say that “minority sexual practitioners” is my new favourite euphemism (a place previously occupied by the Farsi word kooni which loosely translates to “one who likes to eat ass”). The name of the company actually comes from four sources: artistic – a famous series of political drawings by Weimar Republic-era Berlin artist George Grosz, philosophical – the autobiographical text by Nietzsche, religious – Pilate speaks the lines (which translate to “Behold the Man”) during the crucifixion, and sexual – I believe that my ontology is influenced in a profound way by my queerness and my art is directly tied to my ontology. This is why I always question people who prickle when they are labeled as a “gay artist”. If you accept my premise that being queer in contemporary society has an ontological effect, then I am highly suspect of an artist who would state that their art is not tied to their ontology; I would go so far as to say such a person is not a serious artist. So, I hope to cover all sorts of ground. Apologies for such liberal use of the word “ontology”…

• You threaten us with elements of Bollywood, would you say that your choice of form facilitates escapism for the masses, or does it open other doors?

My work is ruled by the principal of prodesse et delectare (politics and entertainment) so all of my aesthetic choices – be they arch camp or otherwise – are attempts to strike this balance. My production designer Matt Jackson and I always strive to ensure that the visual image has equal weight to the spoken text, music, and dance; it’s a total expression I’m after. As for escapism, I want my audience to be engaged with mind, heart, and body…hopefully simultaneously.

Pastor Phelps Project

Pastor Phelps Project

• Your cast line-up is interesting: one identifiable character and eight ensemble players; could you reveal the directorial ploys used to deepen the ensemble’s exploration of the piece’s themes.

It can be a challenge to communicate abstract and/or political ideas which are personal to the writer to an ensemble of actors but I believe it is important for the actors to find aspects of the politics being espoused to connect with. I would never expect my actors to blindly adopt my specific politics, and I also wouldn’t want someone to compromise their morals by performing in one of my pieces. It is, however, crucially important that everyone find ways to connect intellectually, emotionally, and yes, even spiritually. The ensemble for this piece comes from different cultural, ethnic, religious, and artistic backgrounds and traditions; some might connect to the piece’s exploration of the connection between missionary work and colonialism, others might connect as lapsed Catholics themselves, but the variety of experiences and voices in the mix add immeasurably to the final product.

• Theatre and religious ritual are inextricably entwined, how far dare you go in offering the audience a religious experience?

I’ve been researching the darkest and most reactionary elements of Catholic dogma for many, many months but I still get goose bumps every time I hear the ensemble sing the Catholic hymns which are a part of the score. I may be quite a strident atheist, but I do believe in the transcendent and the numinous. In my more naïve and open-hearted moments, I’ve always believed in the theatre as a kind of secular church.

Alistair Newton

Alistair Newton

• Similarly, a good theatre proposal expands in girth under development, have you learnt anything cogent from the good woman herself, and to what degree is the production counting upon a miracle?

She may have taken money from criminals like Charles Keating, heaped praise on despots like the Duvalier’s of Haiti, prayed at the grave of the Stalinist murders of Greater Albania, played nice with Ron and Nancy Reagan, begged Maggie Thatcher to outlaw abortion, campaigned for a law against contraception and divorce in Ireland, and believed that the hideous suffering of the poor was a gift from God, but even she had the courage to admit, at the height of her crisis of faith, that she might not have believed a word of the dogma either. I recently tattooed my body with the line from Horace’s epistle “sapere aude” (“dare to know”); it might be nice to live in world that contains pious saints who exist in a world beyond politics and above moral reproach. But, so long as I live in a world where abortion clinic murders are a regular occurrence, then I will gladly take Mother T’s advice and actively question faith.

Interview Series – Lake Nora Arms

Asked by Heather Davies, of Toronto Noir.
Answered by Co-Adaptor/Composer Jane Miller and Director Liza Balkan of

Lake Nora Arms

1) What was it that drew you to this material?

Liza Balkan

Liza Balkan

(Director Liza Balkan) I am a fan of Michael Redhill’s  beautiful writing and love Jane Miller’s music. I first became aware of this  project several years ago when  Brian Quirt and Naomi Campbell (Nightswimming)  asked to be  in a workshop of it. I fell in love with the material. When Jane asked if I would direct  it for Summerworks (and some Outdoor Festivals prior to that)  I jumped.  Also, I’ve never directed something quite like Lake Nora Arms :this  particular mix of  a cappella singing and poetry. I figured it would be a very sweet challenge.


2) What has been your process of adapting it into a theatre piece?

Jane Miller

Jane Miller

(Co-Adaptor/Composer Jane Miller) Brian Quirt of Nightswimming had read the book and thought it could be put on stage. He asked me to write some songs with some of the poems, the ones that spoke to me the strongest as songs. I did four songs for a 30-minute version at Buddies Rhubbarb! In 1997. Since then Brian’s company has produced several workshops of the music and script and we did a staged reading at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Edmonton, as part of the National Arts Centre’s On The Verge New Play Reading Series in 2004. All these workshops gave us amazing information about how to get a flow throughout the piece, especially because it’s not a linear storyline, and how to make the music effective for the text.

3) how similar or different has the process been for you/the company from previous work?

(Jane Miller) I’m so lucky that Brian Quirt and Naomi  Campbell of Nightswimming stayed true to this project for so many years. This is the mandate of Nightswimming, to develop new theatre works, so this long and careful journey to staging is very much in keeping with their usual process. For me, it is unique in my career and has hugely impacted me as a composer and creator.

4) what’s been the most memorable moment of this development process for you so far?

Lake Nora1(Liza Balkan) Watching the actors totally break the 4th wall in the outdoor 35-minute concert version of the piece being done for the Edge of the Woods Festival in Huntsville and surrounding areas.  Doing this piece outdoors, in the setting that Michael was writing about, has allowed the actors to connect with the audience in a beautifully immediate , personal way.  Boundries of  “participant” “observer” “text”, “song” and “poetry” all blur as  the actors and the audience connect so fully and easily – with each other and with the landscape that surrounds them. So, watching the actors actively go for this connection and EXPERIENCE this connection for the first time , was a huge treat – for everyone concerned.

5) Most memorable moment for the company so far?

(Jane Miller) Having the dancefloor to ourselves at a bar in Huntsville on “Retro 80’s” night and dancing our asses off.

6) What would you like your audience to take away from seeing/experiencing this piece?

(Liza Balkan) Hopefully, they sit inhaling Michael’s gorgeous words and Jane’s equally haunting music, the audience will be able  to leave the city for a short while  and enter in to  their own familiar  – or not so familiar  – memories that are connected to nature and summer and cottage and  youth and innocence and water.

6) what’s you favorite color? (joke!)

(Jane Miller) It changes from time to time. Right now it’s true robin’s egg blue, which has a lot of green in it. I found some broken robin’s eggshell while up north on tour and I’m going to paint my living room that colour. With an orange couch.

7) how does this piece ‘fit into’ the rest of the writer’s work?

Michael Redhill

Michael Redhill

(Jane Miller) For myself, it is a departure to be adapting someone else’s writing to the stage, although I’ve often collaborated on writing songs and enjoy having someone else provide the lyrics – gives me some structure and inspiration. For Brian Quirt, again this is a common thread in his work, adapting source material and working in concert with other people. In fact, he’s pretty genius at it.   And for Michael Redhill, to my knowledge this is the first and only instance of his poems being adapted to stage, though he’s written plays (Building Jerusalem – which has won Dora and Chalmers awards and was nominated for GG award ) and wonderful novels (Martin Sloane, Consolation).

8) What do you feel is the ‘unique aspect’ or ‘unique selling point’ for you piece? (i.e. why should I see this piece as opposed to any others?)

(Liza Balkan) The mix of fabulous a cappella singing and stunning,  sometimes dense and always rich and evocative writing. Hey, it’s Redhill!!

9) how are you feeling about being part of Summerworks?

(Jane Miller) Delighted!

10) what are your hopes/desires for the piece after Summerworks?

(Jane Miller)
We’re doing the show pre-SW at the Leacock Summer Festival, which is a writer’s fest in Orilla. So we hope to do more of that sort of thing with this little show. It’s a great crossover for writer’s fests given Michael’s great reputation. And we also hope to book it as a fundraising show for theatre companies and some summer runs in the Muskokas and other cottaging areas in the coming years.

Thanks Heather!

Interview Series – Some Reckless Abandon

Interview with Leah Bailly (Some Reckless Abandon)

by Dave Deveau (My Funny Valentine)

Leah Bailley

Leah Bailly

Leah Bailly, writer and citizen of the world, can never quite be pinpointed geographically. Her travels channel into her work through a multitude of genres – travel writing, poetry, screenplay, new media, and, naturally, theatre. Her latest work “Some Reckless Abandon”, which visits SummerWorks as part of a larger tour, has emerged quite organically through a variety of media. Toronto theatregoers are fortunate enough to have it land at the Passe Muraille Backspace. Leah took some time out of her jet-setting to answer some of my questions about this latest solo work:

1) What’s the draw of evangelical bible camp for you? Do you have a connection to fundamentalism? A fascination?

When I was 18 years old, I traveled for nearly three years through Latin America, backpacking sort of directionlessly from Mexico to Chile. One consistency I noticed in every country I visited was the missionary activity by big American Evangelical churches. These giant Baptist groups (complete with a bellowing Preacher with a Southern drawl) would set up in the soccer pitches and convert people night after night by offering medicine and food and salvation bribes to bring Christians into their congregations.

Evangelical Christianity has swept Latin America in recent years. Now one in five Latin Americans identify themselves as Pentecostal or Evangelical Christian, thanks largely to massive missionary efforts by these US-based churches. This missionary work is often done by teenage recruits— attractive young Christian women are very effective as an evangelizing force. These girls, often venturing out of their small rural communities for the first time, are often the most adventurous in their communities, and strike a very interesting relationship with the countries they are effectively colonizing. It made such compelling material for a play, I couldn’t resist.

2) Had you always known this piece would manifest as a solo show? What are the challenges/delights of writing for a single performer?

This piece began as a novella that I wrote in residency at The Banff Centre. Then, during the One Yellow Rabbit Summer Lab (in Calgary AB) I started playing with the idea of a voice-driven narrative that could be performed. I wanted to base the play on the young character (Madeleine) telling us from her point of view why she would sign up for Teenage Jesus Camp just to get out of her hopeless hometown. Madeleine is feisty, and a liar, and she manipulates her way into the Evangelical world as a means of escape. Having her voice relay the story was crucial.

3) What’s your working relationship with Cara? How did the two of you come to work on this project together?

Cara Yeates

Cara Yeates

Cara Yeates (the star of Some Reckless Abandon) and I met in an ashram in India in 2005. She was doing research for her last show (Bye Bye Bombay) and I was just beginning Reckless. Creative fires ignited. I showed her a very early draft of this script last summer (in 2008) and she immediately jumped on the project. Since then she has been co-producer and instrumental in not only setting up the tour (she’s a FABULOUS producer) but also as a great creative partner. Cara also brought director Lori Triolo to the project, another total rock star, and the team has really killed it since then.

4) Certainly we all have that moment of wanting to just get away from it all, where do you go? What’s your ultimate escape as an artist?

Rolling in My Sweet Baby’s Arms

5) You seem to be all geographically all over the place right now. Tell us a bit about the places you currently occupy and what brings you there.

I work and live in transit. Currently, I live in Las Vegas NV where I am working on an international MFA in fiction, and where I also teach and edit a lit-journal. I weirdly love Las Vegas, and write about it all the time, first as a culture columnist, and most recently in various fiction projects. My next play titled “Terribles” is also set in Sin City.

Next, in January, I’m beginning a project with Journalists for Human Rights in Sierra Leone and Liberia. For five months or so I’ll be living in Freetown and Monrovia, writing articles on the West African journalists working on human rights stories. And I’m also working on my first novel, which will be partially set in the area.

Originally, I am from Calgary, but I’ve been living and traveling abroad for much of my twenties, from France to Kenya to India to Russia, and lately Vancouver, which must be one of the earth’s most stunning cities. Strangely, since my first three years in Latin America, I haven’t been back. It haunts me.

6) Where does this piece sit in the context of your other writing? Are you heading in a new direction or does it compliment your existing repertoire?

Some Reckless Abandon fits into the body of my work thematically more than anything. Most of my work (whether fiction, travel writing or theatre) deals with the concept of escape and restlessness. Like I said, in my twenties I spent something like 7 years abroad, always testing the limits of how disconnected and far away I could get. For a character like Madeleine, small communities are like traps, especially at 18 years old; any way out would be better than staying. The problem often surfaces though, that you do it alone, and the problems that you face grow to adult proportions very quickly.

7) Your piece employs a musician – how do you feel text and music work together to serve one another onstage?

Miss Emily Brown

Miss Emily Brown

Miss Emily Brown is a genius. Her music is gorgeous, like a tapestry, and emotionally complex and sweet and vulnerable and everything I think this show is about. So I think her music and my text work together in a totally complimentary way. When I asked her to use some of the material from her latest record “Part of You Pours Out of Me” she was so generous and hooked us up. Checkit: http://www.myspace.com/missemilybrown

8) What turns you on as an artist? You obviously write, but what other media excite you?

I’m working on a novel after a few years of short stories and articles and tons of travel writing, and now I have friends convincing me to write them screenplays, and collaborate on new media web projects… It all sounds amazing. My friend told me once that writing was for her the only way to surround herself with artists and be involved in their projects without having any real artistic talent like painting or music or performance. I think that is hilarious and true. We are just trying to get all of these other artists to manifest our ideas. A bit bossy. But rad.

9) As a fellow writer I’m always intrigued to hear about peoples’ process. Where do you write? When?

This project started as long as four years ago, and has taught me that my process is slow and deliberate. I move between genres: what starts as a poem turns into a short story and eventually a play. But the integral part of the work remains, often in the language. Cara and I worked hard to maintain the “teen angst poetry” aspect of this piece. Madeleine is very dramatic, and also a dreamer, and a writer too, in ways. She makes lists, describes settings, and chooses favorite moments to describe as if in photographs. That is how my writing process works too, in collage.

10) If you could whisper a single statement into the ear of your audience, what would it be?

It’s scary, because it’s real.