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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Feature: Festival TransAmériques

Yume No Shiro (photo: Klaus Lefebvre)

And We're Off!
Festival Transamériques takes on today's youth with an unpredictable blend of new hybrids in the performing arts
David King

If there was a way to describe what to expect at this year's Festival Transamériques (FTA), it would first be to expect shows about our youth - and then expect the unexpected. Although the Festival makes some pretty clear delineation between its theatre and dance offerings, there's an increasingly fine line between the two each FTA as disciplines overlap.

Until June 11, CharPo will be reviewing more than a handful of the English-language related (spoken or subtitled) international theatre highlights at this year's FTA, including the Berlin / Amsterdam work Trust (read Joel Fishbane's review here), the always exciting Vancouver company Boca del Lupo with Photog, world renowned director Richard Maxwell's Neutral Hero, the much-anticipated Gardenia (see our preview by Bugs Burnett) and the contemporary Buenes Aires adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House entitled El Desarrollo de La Civilizacíon Venidera, by the brilliant Argentinian director Daniel Veronese.

Bodies in Urban Spaces
(Photo: Lisa Rastl)

This year, with venues that include the more intimate Théâtre Prospero, you're going to want to book your tickets fast, because for some anticipated shows, they'll be sold out in the blink of an eye. Those include Yume No Shiro, Tokyo's punk, "semi-documentary" theatre experience that portrays 8 seemingly lifeless young roommates held up in their squat-like flat like caged animals in a zoo. In Tokyo's other import, Hot Pepper, Japanese artist Toshiki Okada equally paints a grim picture of today's youth with an abstract, banal, and emotionally disconnected aesthetic that will leave us all wondering if Japan's youth are as ready to explode as their Fukushima nuclear reactor. 
Mexico's El Rumour del Incendio, a 1960s look at revolutionaries, will also take us on a documentary theatre exploration of disconnected, internalized and angry youth at a major turning point in their history that's not so dissimilar to the country's current, unresolved war against gangs.

Yume No Shiro (photo: Klaus Lefebvre)

The emotionally disconnected may wreak havoc on audiences expecting something more "linear" at this year's FTA, where productions are introduced to Montreal audiences for the first time as internationally recognized work that's meant to play with form, content and aesthetic. While that subversive originality is what has made these new works so successful in their native countries and abroad, they can be sleepers to an otherwise fidgety North American audience expecting a plot and storyline. Prepare to broaden your horizons, or you may find yourself spending too much money on a nap.18 venues and locations are lined up for this year's fest, on a schedule that overlaps with Montreal's Museum Day and the Montreal Fringe Festival, and with a festival program that's now downloadable as an app. While discount packages are available for the FTA, expecting us to see 13 shows to get 40% off can be a tough call unless you're an FTA die-hard every two years. Fortunately, several dance and off events have tickets below the $30 mark, along with a few free off-events audiences will want to check out in between Fringe and museum hopping. 

Bodies in Urban Spaces
(Photo: Lisa Rastl)
Freebies include Vienna's Bodies In Urban Spaces, which we can expect to see popping up all over the city with all sorts of absurd sculptures made entirely with human bodies. Sylvain Émard Danse's Le Continental XL, taking place at Place des Arts' Place des Festivals, wraps up today, May 29 with 200 dancers, aged 12 to 72. The third edition of Émard's celebration of dance at the FTA, the event is now bigger than ever, blending amateur and professional contemporary dance with line dancing in the streets. If you've never rehearsed in a preparation for a Flash Mob, this is probably a good chance to see what it might look like. 

The tap shoe experiment Solenoid and Philippe Ducros' African-inspired photos and narratives entitled La porte du non-retour round out the free main events, along with a slew of parties at the FTA's Agora Hydro-Québec mainspace, an off-cinema line-up of films at the Cinémathèque, and inspiring symposiums and meet-the-artist sessions that include appearances by FTA favourites like Marie Brassard, Daniel Danis, Ducros and Dave St-Pierre.

Power to our youth, but hey, you're only as young as you feel.

To book tickets for FTA, visit their site or call 514-844-3822 / 1-866-984-3822.
The CharPo FTA links aggregator is here.

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