The seed of the idea for The Anniversary began a decade ago when I met robothespian, a smooth-talking humanoid robot designed for performance. After 15-seconds of conversation with robothespian I felt a cognitive dissonance: I knew I was talking with a machine; but I feltI was interacting with a person—making eye contact, responding to questions, being polite. The Anniversary began with the idea of casting robothespian in a play and exploring the rise of social robots. But in energetic and wide-ranging talks about the idea with Kevin Orr, he continually encouraged me to think broadly about what I was exploring. When it came to writing the first draft during a pandemic summer, he did the same, giving this experienced writer the ultimate creative challenge: See what you come up with. The story emerging in The Anniversary—one about what we can control in life, parenting, and the unforeseen consequences of choices—is much juicier and universal than I’d initially imagined. Orr’s feedback on the draft helped me see these core issues, situate the story in the larger theatrical tradition (he leant me a dozen plays to read over the summer), and set me on my enthusiastic way for writing a next draft.
When beginning the lab process, we were looking to explore borders. A lot of questions came to our mind surrounding the topic. We ended up choosing those aspects that were closer to us: geographical limits, personal boundaries, the thoughts that won't let us move forward. We reflected that those borders could not only separate but also be a bridge that connects. The aesthetic of this piece was defined during our explorations. The performing experience we've envisioned includes live performance, live streaming, and prerecorded materials. We use those mediums to connect two places, in this case, Canada and Mexico. We'll continue exploring based on the experience gained from the Lab.
The Inside Out Project
Helen Cruz and Carolina Gallegos Colmenares
Carolina Gallegos Colmenares
Theatre 4.669's 2020 Creators' Lab has provided the duo with the opportunity to both solidify and formalize their performance practice into set strategies that can be built upon in future performances. The 2020 Creator's Lab has given Matt and Lesley the chance to "balance their checkbooks, write their set list in black sharpie, and to finally say "YES" to the dress(es).
Lesley Marshall and Matt Miwa are frequent collaborators in performance art (ChinaTownRemix, Nuit Blanche, SAW Gallery, Axeneo7, Htmlles Festival) and both approach their collaborative practice from different perspectives and disciplines. While Matt is trained in theatre informed by Japanese histories, acrobatics and gender non-conformity, Lesley's practice draws upon her experience as a musician, video artist, environmental activist and feminist they converge in the arena of queerness.
Leslie Marshall and Matt Miwa
Remplir le vide\Filling the void s’intéresse aux multiples façons que l’humain utilise pour chasser l’ennui, la lassitude, le manque. Quelles sont les stratégies tant toxiques que ludiques qui permettent de remplir le vide, qu’il soit financier, relationnel ou existentiel?
Dance, movement, words, music and projection are used in a desire to utilize a multitude of languages to answer this question. Each member of the creative team “contaminated” each other and allowed themselves to step outside their own discipline to explore the question with a fresh outlook. Therefore the musician became a director, the visual artist created the musical environment, the dancer delivered the words, and the actor wrote the text.
Remplir le vide - Filling the Void
Marc-André Charette, Marianne Duval, Pierre-Luc Clément, Amelia Griffin
No More Mister Rice Guy
Franco Pang and Allie Harris
The lab process helped us firm up ideas touched upon in No More Mr. Rice Guy's initial 15-minute iteration at the 2019 Ottawa Fresh Meat Festival as well as unearth new concepts and themes taking Rice Guy out of his bedroom and into the world. Musically, the duo expanded the show's repertoire with an additional 3 songs and polished pre-existing songs. The final showcase of the lab helped us have a chance to show the incubating piece to peers and other professionals in the field to receive feedback and even making a connection with a dramaturg to join the group in polishing the piece further.
While still developing, the show is gaining traction and will be digitally featured in the 2021 undercurrents festival in February.
Alea de Castro and Arnaldo Betancourt Silva
(MOOVE Ottawa Dance)
This piece, “House”, was inspired by our everyday movements in our Own Home. By incorporating our Street Dance background with our day to day activities, we were able to not only create a safe space to live in, but also to dance in. The initial idea was to exhibit a “Dance Circle” or “Cypher”, but with further exploration, the concept eventually gravitated towards showcasing our organic interaction amongst each other in our Home.
IMoove Ottawa Dance
Whirlwind is a contemporary exploration loosely based on the development and theory behind Whirlwind I, a computer designed by MIT shortly after World War II, and inspired by software pioneer Margaret Hamilton, whose first major project was as programmer for a system based on Whirlwind I. Project Whirlwind translates key elements that made Whirlwind I an effective and innovative computer system for its time and transforms them into a physical language and instructions that guide solo structured improvisation in real time.
The elements serve as tools to create a universe that operates in the here and now (realtime output operation) and that is driven by multiple/simultaneous sub-tasks that exist independently of one another (parallel calculation), but is more than the sum of these tasks (flow production). Within Project Whirlwind’s framework I create pathways to access embodied information and apply it directly to the work as it progresses (magnetic core memory/ 3D information storage). On another level, Project Whirlwind evokes the singularity and loneliness of a female computer scientist starting her career during the Cold War within a massive male-dominated corporation, and makes space for mechanical computation/calculation to coexist with the female experience.
Project Whirlwind was presented at Free Flow Dance Theatre's WIP Series in Saskatoon, SK in Fall 2019
Emily Pearlman with Kristina Watt
How do you develop a performance language for characters PLAYING other characters rather than BECOMING other characters. Can one character also just be themselves and a secondary character simultaneously? During the lab we explored performance styles for a text in development, and in doing so, figured out some complicated relationships between female characters who are at times historical, imagined or autobiographical.
Emily Pearlman Kristina Watt
The Other Hand
Peter’s project considers the case of Chaim Rumkowski, one of the most problematic figures of the Holocaust.
A Polish Jew appointed by the Nazis as Camp Elder of the Ghetto of Łódź, Poland, King Chaim ran his fiefdom as a mini nation-state, printing its own money and stamps bearing his face. He sincerely believed that the only way to save his people’s lives was to make them indispensable to the Nazis. He turned his ghetto into an inhumane and lethal industrial machine in service of the German war effort, all in the messianic pursuit of a “Greater Good”.
Maria and the Man in the Moon
Madeline Hall & Mitchel Rose (Aplombusrhombus)
We used the Summer Lab to discover what our big idea would like like if we broke it down and looked at it through a smaller lens. We came to the process with a lot of ideas and needed an outlet to test them: we had bikes and balloons and a willingness to fall on our faces. We ran. We fell. Occasionally we soared. But most of all...we explored. We created something that resembled a skeleton of our ideas and we created something we needed to push further. Our aspiration to create and present something polished pushed us to foster our creative habits and also forced us to reject our normal process so we could discover a new way of attacking our work. We went to the moon and back (at least once) and we were left with a few great ideas, a few that didn’t work at all, and at least a room full of ideas that we want to explore a few moons from now. What a trip indeed.
Much to (un)do
Lola Ryan and Patrick Teed
Poetry by Lola Ryan
Much to (un)do was a skeleton, the bones of a shared story that we embraced in its essence. We were Tiresias, Tiresia, Zeus and Hera, Lola and her predecessor. In this first iteration, the narrative was holographic, present in all times and in all places. Both loving and cruel, we spoke in image and metaphor, moved in the same way. We know the territory - now we must draw the map
Ndishnikaaz [My Name Is…]
Brittany Johnston and Emily Seguin
with Montana Adams, Elaine Endanawas, Ludmylla Reis
“I stand on the shoulders of all the women who came before me…”
Ndishnikaaz [My Name Is…] was created out of a need to build social awareness around the national epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women across Turtle Island. The project is deeply steeped in Indigenous cosmology to reflect Indigenous ways of being/seeing/relating to the world. We wrote a script (and performed in the round) to reflect the traditional teachings found in the First Nations Medicine Wheel. This wheel symbolizes one’s journey through life and the lessons we stumble across along the way. Sometimes that journey is cut short…
We titled the project Ndishnikaaz, meaning “my name is”, to honour the lives of the countless Indigenous women who were lost prematurely. CBC News created a web database which displays 306 cases of women who have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada since the 1960’s. A large portion of these cases go unresolved and become another faceless statistic. Our goal was to create a Call to Action for all Canadians.
Future: We intend to continue developing the work into a One Act play, with the goal of touring to the show to first Nations communities and Indigenous Arts festivals.
Brittany Johnston Emily Seguin
Montana Adams Elaine Endanawas
with Nicholas Amott, John Doucet, Laura Hall and Geoff McBride
The lead up to the 2018 municipal election was frustrating. I had a growing distaste for the current mayor, but no credible alternative to vote for. The city deserved an election campaign where serious issues – transit, taxes, sprawl, environment, infrastructure – were raised and discussed. The outcome felt inevitable, but someone needed to ask these questions.
So, it was either run for mayor, or write a play about it. Since I'm horribly unqualified for the former...
It might be too inspired by current events, or maybe not inspired enough. I wanted to explore satire and farce. I think if the audience is laughing, they're more receptive to what you have to say.
Nick Amott Laura Hall
John Doucet Geoff McBride
Doreen Taylor-CLaxton, Christopher Moore,
Hilde van den Heuvel
In a song cycle called Song of Eve, you’d expect Adam, Eve, a snake and a tree in a garden. But what if there’s no Adam, no snake and no tree?…. ƎVE uses 4 songs from Gabriel Fauré’s Chanson d’ Ève, projected photography, a bee video and a very large basil plant to explore modern issues of consent, #metoo, and the role of faith in secular society. Moving forward we hope to include the remaining songs of the cycle, more photos, and further explore and clarify the themes of faith, power, responsibility and environmental issues.
Doreen Taylor-Claxton Christopher Moore
Hilde van den Heuvel
(talking bodies + carnivore carnies + affectionate pissing contest)
with Madeline Hall, Victoria Luloff, Olivia Tilley, Elise Gauthier
Katrina Soroka and Caitlin Corbett
They say relationships are mirrors. That we can find parts of ourselves by looking at others. Shed light on things we couldn't see before. Ultraviolet Love is a story about self-exploration, finding oneself in others, the reflexivity or relationships, and the light that guides the way. Bringing together a cast with unusual characters in an adventure that parallels a treatment clinic with an unexpected doorway into another world, Ultraviolet Love takes the absurd into a surprisingly contemplative direction where Violet learns about the hardest way to love - herself
Ultraviolet Love was performed at the Ottawa Fringe in 2018.
Madeleine Hall Olivia Tilley Elise Gauthier Victoria Luloff Katrina Soroka Caitlin Corbett
The Nightmare Circus
with Madeline Hall, Victoria Luloff, Olivia Tilley, Elise Gauthier
Katrina Soroka and Caitlin Corbett
Our goal for this project was threefold: To write a female-driven story, to create an immersive piece of theatre that would involve multiple artistic disciplines including circus sideshow and burlesque and last (but not least) to tell an eerie and unsettling ghost story about a travelling circus that can delight you, enchant you, and devour your heart. During the lab, we were able to find the right structure for the piece, develop the first act of our script and by getting the first scenes on their feet, we were given the freedom to explore the relationships between the characters and find the ‘heart’ of the story.
Madeleine Hall Olivia Tilley Elise Gauthier Victoria Luloff Katrina Soroka
Nick Fornier and Drew Moore
The young Buck$ were set on exploring the young mans dilemma of taking unnecessary risks. Through guided play and exercises in vulnerability they were able to distill most of the words away and truly embody the essence of their youthful vagrancy. Their Ultimate goal; to shed light on the normalization of addiction among youths. Moving forward they want to flesh out and learn the rules of the "consequence free" world this piece takes place in. They also yearn to define what each of their characters represents individually, hopefully they will each bring forth a simple lesson for the audience to walk away with.
(Small town erasure + battle of the sexes + more pizza + dick painting)
"What makes a long life inherently more valuable than a short one? More pizza. More orgasms"
Look, we're all going to die. And soon - relatively.
From this starting point - we began an examination of life: of it's value and purpose, and of death: of what it is and feels like.
And most importantly, of why more (pizza, orgasms, time...) is always better.
Through lenses of science and spirituality, ethics and entheogens, we worked over the summer on solving life's great mysteries and failed. It turns out that value and purpose are objective and there's only one way to definite answers on the death stuff.
Instead, we engaged in circular conversations and found a story about drawing a circle.
An incomplete circle - but one that could hold some our most dense and philosophical questions.
Through collaging texts from the summer, we developed the beginnings of a script about the round trip of adolescence with a team of outsiders who mostly don't make it.
Development work continues with the support of aCity of Ottawa Youth in Culture 2016 Pilot Program and is continues in Phase II with 4.669 into 2018.
Eleanor Crowder & Sarah Waisvisz with Kevin Orr
Sarah Waisvisz and Eleanor Crowder of Calalou invited Kevin Orr to play in.
The question: is modern-day rape culture more fraught than gendered reality
was for the Happy Hooker?
Hockey Man meets Xaviera, and Sarah interrogates her real-life cousin,
resulting in stick-handling and verbal games.
Research leads to the real Xaviera, still writing in Amsterdam
Ray Besharah & David Benedict Brown
Dicky Dicky started as an improv troupe. Then it was a sketch comedy duo. Then Ray and Dave started to perform a series of one-off cabaret performance pieces at variety shows and fundraisers. These unconventional theatre pieces seek connection, strive to create vulnerability and presence, and each has at least a tenuous thread to a political or social issues in our world. Ray and Dave sought help from Theatre 4.669 because they were interested in two things: developing the idea into a full-length play or festival experience, and figuring out how to make their material legitimately compelling and entertaining.
Dicky Dicky Dream Factory presented at the Ottawa Fringe Festival 2017. It will be applying for more development grants to keep growing new and relevant ideas. We’ll be applying to national festivals and we’ll continue to seek out one-off performances where our unique perspective is appreciated.
David Benedict Brown
Road To No Where
Kevin Da Ponte, Even Gilcrest, Brittany Johnston
We worked to create a piece which incorporates choral speaking and movement to explore how our backgrounds and ancestries shape our identity. Throughout the piece three characters struggle to reconcile themselves with how their past growing up in a small town has affected who they have become. These characters have left their small towns, which no longer hold anything for them, in search of something bigger, however on these journeys they come to realise the impact the places and people they left behind have had on them. In making this self-discovery, perhaps they will find what they are searching for.
Kevin Da Ponte