by Rose Plotek
This year the Wildside Festival turns 25. After 25 years of celebrating and showcasing bold and brave artists from Montreal and across Canada, we wanted to extend our commitment to these artists; to go beyond simply presenting their work to supporting its creation.
Even if we were not able to present the festival we wanted, we are happy to have been able to work with two great companies and give them the opportunity to further develop their productions.
This year’s festival was to feature two shows created by some of Montreal’s most exciting artists. Each company was given a two-week technical residency in the theatre in which they will perform. They were given free licence to create, explore and dig deep into their work. A technical residency is a vital part of the creation process. It is a time when all the elements can come together and creators fully see what they are making.
I spoke with a lead artist from each company to hear a bit about their residency process and what audiences can expect when they meet the work. – Rose Plotek, Curator of 2022 Wildside Festival and Centaur Associate Artist.
HUSH co-director and designer
“The importance of a technical residency cannot be understated. It is integral to this kind of creation process. When it comes to a work in progress it means you get to create for the specific space, and use that space for everything it has to offer. You can progress slowly; you don’t have to make all the decisions at once. You actually get to see the storytelling in all its elements. As a creator I am not able to simply squint and imagine what a work will look like. I get a kind of writer’s block if I don’t have a reasonable number of the components in place.
Our focus during this residency was first and foremost to rig up a set piece that hangs in the air. This set piece receives light,and is intended to make several movements throughout the performance, which have a metaphorical role. This was something we have only ever been able to imagine doing in previous workshops. So we had to verify how we could do that, how we could do it simply, and most importantly: did it mean what we thought it meant when we were finally able to do these manipulations.
When this work, which is still in progress, meets an audience, the big question we are asking ourselves is how do they receive the kind of storytelling that we are proposing? With this piece, stylistically, we move around within modes of presentation; there is not one consistent form of address. Dramaturgically, I believe that is the force of the piece, but we are still trying to understand how we can make those kinds of shifts and how willing people will be to follow us. How well will they understand what those choices signify or how they support the storytelling?”
Deer Blood co-creator and performer
“As an independent producing company the opportunity to develop work in actual theatre space is such a gift and very impactful to our storytelling. Integrating technical support and design elements like lights, projections, and set are crucial steps in the creative process. This is especially true when dealing with more expressionistic, abstract work. These design elements really establish the artistic landscape we are playing in and gives our audience a lot of information about how we want them to experience the piece.
So getting to work with these elements, getting to build them progressively as a team, really helped us develop, understand and deepen the story we are telling, and to better frame the piece. For multidisciplinary, multimedia work, to have as many of the components as possible as early as possible, helps make the piece more complete and more cogent. This allows us to actually understand how our show is functioning.
We are really looking forward to how the work will meet an audience. What most excites us about this encounter will be how they interpret the show. What are they taking away from it? The piece is purposefully open to interpretation and so we are very curious to hear people’s thoughts and feelings about it. To hear what it provokes in them and what questions they have. At the end of the day this work is for them, and is incomplete without an audience. So we are eager to hear what they make of our offering.”
Wildside REMIX runs from March 2 to March 12, 2022.
Centaur Theatre will host Logic of the Worst by Étienne Lepage and Frédérick Gravel (March 2 – 4 @ 7PM) and 1, 2 maybe 3 by jean & syd, (March 9, 10 ans 11 @ 7PM), two productions that were to run at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines.
Confabulation: Good Date, Bad Date — stories of romance and regret, organized by Matt Goldberg, will be on Friday March 4th @and a musical celebration of the 25th anniversary of the festival will be led by singer/songwriters Sarah Segal-Lazar, Lucy Earle, and Vienna d’ Amato Hall on March 5th in the gallery.
Even at the ‘all-growed-up’ age of 30, Montreal’s St-Ambroise Fringe Festival is still as youthfully spontaneous, energetic, and joyful as when it first began and we’re so pumped for its upcoming 30th anniversary. How lucky are we to have such a cool arts organization committed to Importing international artists, showcasing our own city’s unique theatre, dance, clown, comedy, music and puppet communities, and giving emerging and established artists an annual occasion to experiment and play.
We are proud of our long association with this crazy, unpredictable kick-off event to Montreal’s renowned summer festival frenzy. Twenty five years ago, when we debuted the Wildside Festival, initially dubbed Walk on the Wild Side, we frequently included Fringe show remounts, introducing the artists to wider audiences.
In 2005 we made that practice official when we established a Centaur Theatre Frankie Award which gave one outstanding Fringe production a starring slot in the Wildside Festival. Over the years the award has had several incarnations—Off the Main Award, Best of the Fest Award, and most recently Best English Production —but no matter the moniker, the award has always stood for uninhibited, innovative, unique storytelling.
While still in the wake of a global pandemic, the Fringe Festival’s 30th anniversary year will likely be one of the most unique since its inception. We applaud the Fringe’s unwavering commitment to originality, its flexibility and resilience, and all that it’s done to promote the performing arts and provide a platform for artists of all backgrounds and levels of experience to take risks. Don’t miss this milestone edition, taking place from June 1 to 20 – in person and online!
By Johanna Nutter
By Holly Gauthier-Frankel and Paul Van Dyck
By Kirsten Rasmussen
(Banner image feature)
Kathleen Greenfield and Ingrid Hansen
Nathane Howe & Morgan Murray
By Elena Belyea
Written by, and featuring Nisha Coleman
Written By Ann Blake and Featuring: Ann Blake and Lucia Smyth
Presented by Sex T-Rex
Featuring Conor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Kaitlin Morrow, Seann Murray
Presented by Vancouver’s Mind of a Snail Puppet Company
Created & Performed by Jessica Gabriel & Chloe Ziner