PuSh Blog

Nine shows in six days

June 30, 2009

Managing Director Minna Schendlinger does Luminato & Magnetic North

I got to see 2 Luminato shows this year, thanks to my successful consultancy with Chris Lorway, the Artistic Director of Luminato, last year, and PuSh’s Senior Curator, Sherrie Johnson, who worked on a Luminato show this year.

“The Children’s Crusade” was a Luminato-commissioned opera by composer R. Murray Schaefer that was performed by nearly 100 musicians, actors, and singers over 2 hours on a purpose-built set in an abandoned warehouse on the shores of Lake Ontario. The piece was parambulatory: there was little seating and the audience moved with the action through the warehouse to the climactic scene. I found the event of the show more compelling than the show itself, but the young lead had a remarkable voice and the music was incredibly beautiful. The next day I saw “Tono” by Red Sky Performance, a dane piece involving North American and Mongolian aboriginal artists and musicians. It was a visual delight, and again, the live musical accompaniment took it to a particularly sublime level.

I left Toronto for Ottawa on June 8, and got right down to the business of seeing shows on Sunday evening. Magnetic North created a beautiful series of 6 short theatre pieces that were performed at different junctions of the Rideau Canal and told different stories, in both official languages. As a born-and-bred British Columbian anglophone, the two pieces that were entirely en francais were lost to me, but the experience of walking to the pieces, sitting on a little folding stool and taking in the secret-feeling courtyards and alleyways of Ottawa was completely satisfying.

Over the following three days, I saw four more pieces. Monday evening was a triple bill: “Trudeau Stories” by Brooke Johnson, a theatrical re-telling of her friendship with the former Prime Minister and “Letters to my Grandma” and “Pyaasa,” two separate and complementary pieces by Anusree Roy about the experiences of South Asian women. Tuesday evening I was in the audience for Anton Piatigorsky’s “Eternal Hydra,” a complex and riveting tale of literature, deceit, theft and redemption. Expertly directed by Chris Abraham, the performers were individually superb and uniformly brilliant. A treat to watch. Wednesday evening I found myself at the latest staging of “Fear of Flight,” created by Jillian Keiley and Robert Chafe (the team who brought us “Tempting Providence” in 2006.) In this piece, 9 writers contribute to a series of monologues that are delivered by actors on a plane. I saw the incarnation of the piece at the Magnetic North Festival in St, John’s Newfoundland in 2006. The original was a student production with a tonne of potential and this new version is excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

That was it for my live performing arts consumption on this trip. 9 shows in 6 days. It’s no Edinburgh Festival, but not bad!

Posted by Minna Schendlinger: Managing Director of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival