Summerworks Picks 2014: Part 3

15 Aug

The 2014 SummerWorks Festival is entering its final weekend and there is no shortage of good shows to choose from! Here are some more highlights of the festival:

HERO-Juni-Bimm1-Caterwaul-small-620x500 Unintentionally Depressing Children’s Tales

Written by Erin Fleck, directed by Maya Rabinovitch, with puppets by Fleck and Sarah Fairlie, and set design by Roxanne Ignatius, Unintentionally Depressing Children’s Tales is a delightfully immersive and multidisciplinary theatrical work. Fleck’s handful of whimsical stories are delivered by gentle-voiced narrators with a team of shadow puppeteers providing the visuals. With the style of presentation and puppetry varying between each one, the format never gets stale.

Some of the puppet creations are truly impressive, such as a female specter composed of layers of materials of varying opacity which results in a beautiful three dimensional effect on screen. Ignatius’ set design, which transforms the usually sparse Lower Ossington Studio into a grand and cozy pillow fort guaranteed to evoke memories of slumber parties from one’s youth, is another highlight.

shadowps_08-CopyThe Water Thief

An atmospheric and dream-like creation from Amy Siegel and Sean Frey (and a host of collaborators), The Water Thief blends film, music, and live performance to great effect. There’s no narrative in the traditional sense of the word, but filmed images of an old man tending to an abandoned maritime community and a water thief (a type of water-powered mechanical clock) evokes some pensive themes. The real magic happens when the all the layers of the production (both figuratively and literally) are slowly and deliberately revealed, enhanced by a hauntingly melodic and repetitive musical landscape. The whole experience is deceptively simple and meditative, yet still incredibly powerful.

UnknownSoldier-AlejandroSantiago-300DPI-3701-Copy-500x500Unknown Soldier

Writer/director Jonathan Seinen’s semi-documentary work about a thinly-veiled analogue of Chelsea Manning, the former US military data analyst who leaked sensitive and embarrassing classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks, is a fascinating portrait of a courageous individual enraged by the status quo and simultaneously struggling with gender identity. It’s not your typical one-two punch of themes, but reality is funny that way. The script includes text from the transcripts of Manning’s pre-trial hearings, court martial proceedings, public statements, and online chats, which adds a thick sheen of authenticity to the well-honed work.

A huge deal of credit for the success of this production lands squarely on the shoulders of lone performer Jeff Ho who delivers a powerhouse performance. Ho holds nothing back; his moments of joyful naivety, justice-fueled rebellion, and sorrowful realization are all piercingly honest.


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