I’ve hardly been getting any theatre viewing in these days, what with all the money-handling I’ve been doing (not exactly complaining, but still…). I managed to miss SPRING AWAKENING, THE CRUCIBLE, and the entire second half of PRAIRIE SCENE. What I need is a quick and dirty festival, lots of shows in rapid fire format, preferably all in one venue, multiple shows in one night…perhaps with cookies…
…ah, bless you, YOUTH INFRINGEMENT, you’re just what the Visitor ordered! Because fuck me, but I was yearning for something to write about. So welcome to my first ever Youth Infringement installment of the Visitorium. Not that this is my first time AT the Festival, held annually at Arts Court…I made my debut there last year, and had a swell time. But that was back in my dark, pre-chud days, when random strangers on the internet didn’t have access to my uneducated, curse-ridden drivel! Thankfully, we’re all a little more enlightened now, so for your perusal, here’s my take on the opening night of YI 2011!
Made it to good old Arts Court for 6, good time to get my fest pass and settle in for the evening’s entertainment. And okay, they had some problems with the ticket-printing system for the first few hours, but everyone was very much accomodating in that regard and it posed no particular issue in the end. A lovely gal by the name of Erin Fagan provided music in the lobby (very nice) until the doors opened for the first of four shows tonite. Each show is an original piece according to the festival mandate, written by, starring and crewed entirely by local youth aged 15-25. sounds good to me, and I hustled on in to the front row for the fest opener, Mike Kosowan’s TRAPPED IN A VOX.
I know Mike from last year’s wicked fun RED NOSES show at Ottawa U, not to mention his work with Insensitivity Training and Sanitas Playback Theatre, and had high hopes. Adding to it, the show was stage managed by my recent supahvolunteer Jess Preece, and starred Jake William Smith, who seems to always impress me when I see him on a stage. The action centers around a hospital sleep clinic where Will (Jake Smith) is trying to get to the root of his insomnia. And tho the doctor, played by Pirate Jenny’s Circus alum Ted Forbes, seems stymied, the problem MAY have something to do with the cruel voices constantly shrieking at Will to kill himself. Kate Heney and Jacki Brabazon do the honours there with gusto, and VOX is a smart, funny piece with a gleefully dark edge to it. Jake Smith is on target as always as the tortured Will, and props to director Brigitte Aube-Harrison for solid staging.
One brief intermission and cookie break later, and it was time for the second offering that night, A TOUR DE MOROSE by Martin Glassford. A sharp and quick-paced comedy about heartbreak, miscommunication, and a lost orange hat that had the room laughin’ hard, as much thanks to the onstage work of Colin Giles, Jeremy Jones and Rebecca Laviolette as to Glassford’s clever script and the nifty direction from Alex Beraldin. Short but sweet. A winner.
Another break, and now I finally noticed Miss Emily Pearlman in the crowds, she being one of the mentors helping out with some of the budding playwrights and directors behind the scenes, on account of Miss Emily Pearlman is just plain awesome. Always good to spot her around, and we both headed in soon to catch play number three, THE GAME AND HOW TO PLAY IT, one of two at the festival by Rebecca Garcia. The set immediately looked invitingly cool and moody, and the show did not disappoint in that regard. I don’t want to give much away on this one…suffice it to say it’s a dandy drama-thriller, with great stagework from Hannah Evans, Rana Laviolette, and Lisa Johnston ( I was personally especially impressed by Johnston’s Lou, but all three were terrific). Director (and fest jr.Producer) Chris Jaworski makes the most out of his minimal setpiece, and this is a play I’d love to see get more time and work at a later date. There’s great stuff here that’s worthy of love and attention. Now I’m looking forward to Garcia’s QUEEN FOR A DAY later this week even more!
After one last pause, it was time to end the evening with play #4, Nicholas Amott’s THE SUMMIT. A very fun story about a meeting between the mythologically-imagined ‘ambassadors’ of Health, War, Economy, Religion, Environment and Arts under the auspices of the enigmatic Alastair, to try and work out a solution to the world’s problems. There’s a lot on the plate in a show like this, obviously, and while the pacing bogs here and there, the intelligence of the script continue to shine through. Jenna Naulls, Keir MacDonald, Ian Huffam, Kate Heney (on double duty tonite after VOX), Kelsey Johnston, James Graziano and Kyle Cunningham all have great moments in a very intriguing show. There’s a great bit involving a mysterious photographer, lots of physical stagework that must have taxed director Patrice Tremblay more than a little, and some lovely rhyming verse delivered nicely by Cunnigham’s ‘Arts’. A nice finish to day one. Well done.
So that was my first day back at YI, andI’ll probably be back on Friday, when I’ll get the opportunity to see the tree shows I still have to catch. Big thanks go to fest producer Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, who by the way also rocked in last year’s SACRED SITES IN SUBURBIA. Peace, love and soul, Youth Infringement, and I’ll see you in a couple of days,
The Visitor (and Winston)