Tag Archives: steve pirot

Ukelelia, echolalia, wordplay

After picking up my Sunworks turkey at the Strathcona Market, I took in another Snow Globe Festival performance this afternoon, this time Brother Platypus & Sister SuKat Go To The Sea, by Spirot with Khiara Quigley, directed by Murray Utas.

It was poetic, funny, musical, allegorical, and kind of free-associational in a similar way to other Steve Pirot/Murray Utas work, but at the same time appropriate for young audiences.  There was a story with problem and resolution, but it was not entirely plot-driven.   So, it was pretty much what I expected but at the same time enjoyably surprising.

Both performers, Sydney Gross and Steve Pirot, were playing ukeleles and singing. I’ve seen Sydney Gross behind the lights/sound boards lots of times but I don’t think I’d ever seen her on stage, but in this role she was enchantingly childlike but not childish, easy to identify with.  There was a little bit of dance, a little bit of audience participation, and wordplay for both kids (that name rings a bell!  Literally, and every time!) and adults (random apposite quotation from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)  There was also fantastical Matt Schuurman background video.

I’m not going to be able to catch the third show in the Snow Globe Festival, but each of the three plays has one more performance tonight.  One suggestion for Promise Productions:  next year, it would be great if people could find your schedule with fewer clicks – your website has the 2012 schedule and your Facebook event requires a bit of scrolling-down.

snout – even weirder theatre

My next experience with weird theatre was an Azimuth Theatre / Catch the Keys production called Snout, in the little playing space at the Arts Barns.  I believe it was written by Megan Dart and directed by Beth Dart, but that is from memory because there weren’t any paper programs.  As people entered the theatre, we saw a small tented space, draped with sheets and decorated with living room furniture, which also seemed to be where we should sit.  Atmospheric music was playing, and mysterious video images (Matt Schuurman’s work of course) were projected on the sheets.  An awkwardly-hunched character in bare feet and a burlap poncho (Ben Stevens) welcomed the theatregoers to his house and directed us to the couches, chairs, and cushions on the floor, while steering people away from a kitchen-table set at one end of the room.

We had lots of opportunity to study the space, especially those of us who were a little bit uncomfortable about engaging with the unpredictable character scuttling around.  The draped sheets made a football-shaped space, with openings at either end and at a few other places in the perimeter.  After a while I became aware of a looming bearded presence watching us from the various rents in the draping, but again I kind of averted my attention so as not to engage.  (As I’ve probably already said here, I love weird theatre – but I’m still awkward about being dragged in to participate.)

The main character turned out to be named Ori, and this was his home.  He also introduced us to a Wolf (Steve Pirot), as a friend that he played with and fought with.  The wolf stalked on his hands and feet, hair covering his face, and snarled convincingly enough that my neck got shivers.  The character felt dangerous in that form.  Later, he walked upright and delivered a monologue about possessions, theft, and exchanging valuables, while returning to people various objects of theirs that he had somehow pilfered earlier – in my case, a book about improv theatre that I’d borrowed from one of my teachers.  I was probably easy to steal from because of having tried so hard to ignore him!

The other two characters in the play were an ordinary couple, (Ainsley Hilliard and Mat Simpson), who had been together long enough to remember happier more romantic times, but unsure how and whether to try recapturing those feelings.

And the rest of the performance (I was going to say “story”, but that would suggest something more linear and less lyrical and cryptic) was just those characters interacting with each other and rebounding off each other and hurting each other.  I probably missed a lot – the box-office flyer suggested some resonance with an Isis and Osiris myth, for one thing – but I didn’t mind, because I liked it.

Azimuth Theatre’s Free-man on the Land – better than its blurb!

Free-man on the Land, playing at the Roxy Theatre on 124 Street, is the most unconventional or postmodern performance I have seen since the Fringe Festival.  And it’s fun!  It was both more playful and more provocative than I expected, and less of a humourless rant (or to keep the alliteration, I could say polemic).   The handbill description really doesn’t make it sound as interesting as it is.

I saw a preview show, with the theatre not very full, so I sat in the second row with nobody in the first row.  When I realised at the start that the narrator was ignoring the fourth wall and other conventions of theatre, I suddenly wondered if I would regret being so visible – and of course they called on me, but I think I responded well (all this improv training is coming in handy!)

I’ve read a bit about the Free-man on the Land movement and some of its proponents.  This Edmonton Journal article is one of the more entertaining bits.  I have a lot of sympathy for many people who call themselves anarchists whom I might describe as grassroots activists, but the FOTL thing has me sort of scratching my head and backing away, in general.

In the play, there’s enough story shown and hinted to make the main character (the man commonly known as Richard Svoboda, played by Des Parenteau) interesting and to suggest how he developed his views.  His attitudes bring him into conflict with his partner, played by Dale Ladouceur, who also sings several original songs during the show while accompanying herself on a Chapman Stick.  Her character isn’t quite as interesting as Richard, but more than a foil.  Other parts (a narrator and his chorus or counterfoil, a taxman, a court-appointed defence lawyer, a former employer, etc) were played by director Murray Utas and playwright Steve Pirot.

The Azimuth Theatre production of Free-man on the Land is playing at the Roxy until Sunday January 27th.  If you like weird theatre, you should go see it.