Thursday, 25 July 2013

Dog Act - Nancan Productions @ MTC Mainstage Venue #1

Local company Nancan Productions brings us this clever script from American writer Liz Duffy Adams with a stellar cast of Winnipeg performers. Situated in a future-past time where tribes war and cities are destroyed, yet vaudevillians roam performing their old standards. The world of the play is truly imaginative, and the cast bring it to life briliantly. Notable is the tribe thugs' near-iambic pentameter, peppered with expletives.

Yet despite excellent performances and a great script, I found my mind wandering; the piece could have done with some tightening, and more nuances in the shape of the action pertaining to pace in particular. As well, there were occasions when the rich language was lost to rushing, as if the actors themselves were aware of this.

These things aside, it remains a strong production and one I recommend seeing.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Mixtape - Theatre 3 @ Winnipeg Fringe Venue #9

Mixtape is a series of  stories told through clown and physical work, ranging from silly stories of watering a plan, to clownish circus acts. R.G. Chesterson is captivating with his highly detailed and specific physical work; his smallest movement evoking emotion from the audience. He plays on the audience through clever participation activity, and truly engages. Some highly enjoyable de-familiarization of objects occurs, including dancing robot heads for some clever puppetry.

Unfortunately his partner is not as deft a physical performer, and lacks the polish that Chesterson offers. The result is that her solo scenes drag somewhat, and diffuse the energy of the performance.

Overall this is an enjoyable piece. Personally, I would love to see Chesterson either working on his own, or perhaps with a different partner.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Taking Things Apart

I had the unique opportunity yesterday to be in the audience for a filming of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's acclaimed Moulin Rouge, choreographed by Jordan Morris. The project will be  broadcast to cineplex theatres around the world, and is a really monumental occasion for the nearly 75 year old company, home to many brilliant dancers.

What was really exciting for me was the process; having trained in dance myself, I am most engaged with the work of the dancer, and the effort made to make it appear effortless. Due to filming, the ballet was shot out of sequence (as it is easier to situate cameras and costumes for filming this way) which had an unusual effect. What it brought out was a reminder of the work that goes into performing a ballet of this magnitude. Occasionally while waiting for technical setup, the dancers would wait on stage, stretching or reviewing their choreography - things that always happen, but typically are hidden from the audience to maintain the illusion of perfection. As well, the movement of sets and testing of lights throughout was unintentionally performative, and highly engaging.

It was just as much an experience of dance performance as it was an experience of the structure and production of dance performance - something ballet of all modern art forms has the tendency to hide. The result was the most Brechtian dance performance you could imagine. Verfremmdungseffekt is generally the antithesis of classical ballet - whose very aim is to transport you along with the story - however in this instance the distancing, the objective observation of the behaviour, was truly possible. A moment when Zeigler pulls a pistol on the young lovers, then proceeds with a dance of seductive pas de deux with Natalie, gun still in hand, was haunting in a way it couldn't have been had we been caught up in her story. As well, the masochism of ballet rang loud and clear (perhaps ironically for a company which recently dismissed a student for appearance in a porn) with the fact that the goal of all female characters was valuation and redemption in the eyes of a male character.

I'm very excited to see the piece "Put together" as it were, in the intended order, as it will be a very different experience of the ballet.