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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Feature: Michaela di Cesare on remounting 8 Ways

Testing the Scripture 
Possible outcomes of a remount of 8 Ways my Mother was Conceived among its very subjects
by Michaela Di Cesare

Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family." – Mark 6:4

When I was invited to a meeting with the National Congress of Italian Canadians at the gilded monument we call the Leonardo Da Vinci Center in St-Leonard, shortly before my run at FRINGE had begun, I thought only one of two things could happen:
  • I’d walk through a large, ornate door that would shut mysteriously behind me, after which I’d find myself facing the back of a tall chair. Following my tentative hello, the chair would swivel slowly, revealing a fat gangster chewing on a cigar. With a subtle gesture he would then summon his goons, willing them to appear from where they had been lurking in the shadows. At which point they’d put a bag over my head, tell me I had dishonored my people and must be silenced. And before I knew it, I’d be swimming with the fishes… Or this more pleasant version:
  • I’d walk through the door, swivel, yadda yadda—but then I’d be offered a bazillion dollars to make the play a propaganda piece for the Italian community and tour the world with it, accompanied by my very own pair of goons who I’d affectionately name Sal and Vinny-- following a soul-searching pondering of my artistic integrity, of course.
It’s safe to say that neither of those scenarios transpired. This is also a good time for me to add that I was in no way seriously insinuating that the LDV centre is run by the mob. That’s preposterous. Please don’t kill me.

What did happen was a meeting with Josie Verrillo, the General Director of the National Congress for Italian Canadians in Quebec, in which I was invited to present my play as part of Italian Week 2011. I gladly accepted, not thinking for a moment about the ridiculously busy week I’d be undertaking since Italian Week happens to coincide with opening week of Titus Andronicus. Of course, my unfaltering integrity (if I do say so myself) permitted me to only book 1 show during Italian Week-- on August 7th—the only night that week without a showing of Titus. So I suppose if situation #2 had actually happened, I probably wouldn’t have accepted the money and the goons after all.
8 Ways my Mother was Conceived was born in Toronto and for that reason it did experience some growing pains during its transport to Montreal. 

The show had been directed for a large theatre space, in which we had residency for over a month. The project had a crew of 6 working on it, under the direction of a professional technical director. I know now that my belief that she show as it was could be a travelling show was erroneous, as my surprise that our blocking did not work perfectly in the FRINGE space proved. However, if the move to FRINGE meant downsizing my usual playing space, the Piccolo Teatro at LDV will prove a positively tiny space to work in. Gladly, I have already had two full rehearsals in that space and am proud to say that it helped to streamline and tighten the physicality of the show. I am also convinced that any future incarnations of this show will require my director and I to be in the same city at the same time! And, you know, I mention this because I would like another run of this show, please. I have the University of Toronto Art Council’s Emerging Artist grant, I have the willingness, drive and desire to push this show further, and now all I need is another venue willing to take a leap with me. Come on, make me an offer I can’t refuse. (Yes, that was a mob joke)

On a serious note, some of you—fellow artists, audience members, complete strangers—have been so amazingly supportive of me and my show. I’m grateful beyond words. There have been so many times I wanted to quit, abort this baby and move on to hiding behind a desk job for the rest of my life. And then, as if by complete serendipity, following one of those episodes where I take a box of extra large pizza  (maybe some onion rings)  into the shower and just cry it out, I bump into one of you and you tell me so-and-so said this amazing thing about my show, or I find a new review online, or I hear someone quote a line randomly--- THANK YOU! I feel I really must thank you—and I should also apologize for the times when I neglect your support and focus on negativity. I shouldn’t do that.

I am super-duper ready for Italian Week and, assuming I do not mysteriously disappear during curtain call, I will let you know all about it.

See also CharPo's review of the original Fringe production of 8 ways

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