Care to know what a bagel sounds like on the air?
Tune in on November the 13th in our Tuesday Morning After show!
Got It For Cheap (GIFC) is a traveling series of group shows including 750+ artists. All works are original works on paper and sold for the low price of $30 USD, or the local equivalent. The goal of GIFC is to make buying original art accessible to all people and to give young artists a platform to sell their work and be exposed to a worldwide audience. On Saturday November 17th and Sunday November 18th, GIFC will be holding their latest show in Montreal at L’INCONNUE gallery.
Tune in to CKUT this Tuesday November 13th at 8:30am for our interview with GIFC coordinator Chris Rexroad for some details on the upcoming show! More Info
Hey you! Yeah you! Are you so cool it hurts sometimes?
Of course you are… You’re a CKUT enthousiaste after all!
Feel like sharing the cool with our audience?
We are looking for contributor for The Morning After – Lendemain De La Veille. Wether you want to cover music, news or culture related stories, we want YOUR voice on the air!
No experience is needed! We have a bunch of workshop ready for you though
email: email@example.com to know more!
The 35th Annual Montreal Antiquarian Book Fair will take placeSaturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th of September in Concordia University’s McConnell Pavillion.
Saturday: 12 to 6 pm
Sunday 11 am to 5 pm Admission is $6.00 for both days
Argo Bookstore: It’s your time to shine! We’ll be hosting our sixth open mic night since our reopening. Come share stories, poetry, music, or whatever suits your fancy! Let us know you’re planning to come at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just come the day of and lay it on us.
Youngnesse is a reflection on the political energy of youth.Dance, theatre, music, performance and visual art come together in a series of tableaux about a generation galvanized by the transformative potential of collective action. What kind of future can we imagine, realistically? When we cannot decide whether to shout, protest, withdraw, or escape, the only defense mechanism left is the energy we have. Live on stage with projets hybris, you’ll see the band DRY SEC, newly formed by members of VICTIME and Technical Kidman.
Monday September the 24th to Friday the 28th.
Kid’s Stuff: Come hear stories about the little people we used to be. Childhood is such a time of wonder and experiences. The Centaur Theater welcomes all people and stories, send yours today! More Info
Saturday, October 13, 20188:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Cinema Politica screens: “Reprendre le paradis” (Recuperando el Paradiso) An independent documentary shedding light on the struggle of an autochtone community: Santa Maria de Ostula. (In French)
Spoken Word and Poetry:
Poetry Night at the Yellow Door: Organized by our good friends of CJLO to showcase local poets!
Come to Le Cagibi to witness an amazing night of poetry and spoken word.
Sunday October the 7th
Stand Up and Comedy
The Wriggle Room presents: Tomas Leblanc: September 27th! Join me for “The Addict is Present”, my new solo-ish show: part stand-up (new/old jokes, en anglais mostly), part dance and music (some guests ie. old and new friends).
Burlesque: The Wriggle room presents: Voix de ville features musicians, burlesque strippers, dancers and comedian from Montreal and beyond.
Every Wednesday of September and October. Still the Wriggle room: The Grand Ballet Burlesque and much more.
September 29th and Through out October
Conferences and Demos:
UPop offers free courses in bars and Cafés. Look forward to
September: 24th Antique Philosophers: Diogenes against the folie des Grandeur, 25th Origins of Math: Euclide.
October: 8thAntique Philosophers: Socrates live and die a philosophe, 9th Origins of Maths: plane geometry, 22th Antique Philosophers: “Women philosophes: as long as need be”
LOVE, RAGE AND SOLIDARITY 13th Annual Memorial March & Vigil for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People
Thursday, October 4th, 2018 Cabot Square (Atwater Metro) 6pm
MUSIC CRITICISM, LOCAL SCENES, AND CONSTRUCTED HISTORIES What role does narrative have in the way creative communities are shaped and remembered? How does music criticism influence localized scenes? Which voices are heard, and how does this impact the participants and observers in a cultural space?
The rhythm of my life (Lyrics to the song The Rhythm of the Night by Corona)
“When the dusk heightens, like the amber on a stage set, those ramshackle hoardings of wood and rusting iron which circle our cities, a theatrical sorrow rises with it, for the glare, like the aura from an old fashioned brass lamp, is like a childhood signal to come home.” What the Twilight Says, Derek Walcott
The first thing one notices when one enters Montreal’s TOHU and its impressive theater space http://tohu.ca/en/season/spectacle/2014-2015/jeux-de-cartes-coeur/ is a kind of monument. That monument is the circular stage, set in a kind of amber glare,like in Derek Walcott’s quote above.This circular stage stage whiffs first of being intemporal2 and monumental http://www.amazon.com/La-métamorphose-dieux-3-LIntemporel/dp/2070108619 , and whiffs of being a machine like beast that will either wrest the audience into dizzying submission coupled with the spectacle to be presented, or whiffs like a stage that may remain just the machine-like beast it is, standing immobile in all its queer rustic like beauty, while the show, not that noticed nor transformative might go on.
With Quebec contemporary theatre icon Robert Lepage’s latest production Coeurs (Hearts), the second in a series of plays,we were left somewhere between the former and latter – the former being that Coeurs was a fabulous spectacle that of course beguiled and was noticed, and the latter – that it was a piece of theater that simply remained, as the French say, inachevé, not complete nor completely transformative. And yes the point may be that not every theatre piece need be transformative nor life changing, but yes at least evocative, which Lepage’s Coeurs certainly was. But yes, of course, with Lepage, this (sense of a transformative theatre experience) is what many here in Quebec have come to expect.
In entering Lepage’s Coeurs, we are, as previously said, first and foremost beholden and greeted by this circular stage, reminiscent of the 6th century Roman Circus Maximus, which in its heyday seated over 380 000 spectators. Lepage’s theatre group Ex Machina is resident at this theatre facility. As Robert Lepage says of a circular stage for gathering as opposed to what has come to be accepted as the imposed rectangle to view theatre:
“In the 20 th century, theater began to imitate cinema more and more…We have gotten distant from the idea of gathering, that enriches the theatrical experience…The presentation/ creation in a circle permits us to recreate that feeling. “ (my transl)
And further, in entering the theatre space, one is also struck by massive impressive clock- like contraptions above, mirroring the stage, giving the stage and these contraptions the feel of a literal time machine or suction cup one felt one was entering. The whole impressive stagecraft ensemble and theatre hall might have felt like an intemporal “stone room of black and ancient lakes”. And in a previous incarnations of Lepage’s work3, one might have also expected to find in such a “a stone room of black and ancient lakes”, an alabaster translucent creature raising “ its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared (ing) into the light.” 4
This was not case in Lepage’s Coeurs where he dives into a piece whose transhistorical world, merits and aims to engage with contemporary geopolitics were to be applauded. But, despite the deployment of a successful dramaturgy (but perhaps not dialogue), Lepage’s Coeurs fell short of diving us full fledged into transformative dark imaginary that might reveal to us something new or revelatory about our contemporary “clash of civilizations” and geopolitical games, or reveal to us something new or revelatory about the present contemporary rhythm of the night.
Looking for Common Grounds
Coeurs begins with Jean-Eugene Robert- Houdin, the father of modern magic sent by the French government to Algeria in the 1800s to quell the power of the local religion/ marabouts priests. As the story goes, Houdin performed a very impressive sleight of hand that up handed the power of a marabouts he challenged. Houdin was able to stop a bullet with an apple and have it not pierce past the apple into his chest. Houdin’s aura grew and the power of the marabouts faded, it is said. Lepage starts with this classic geopolitical charade game. Such charade games like the story of the sale of Manhattan for 24$ to the Dutch by the Lenape and many others as one might see like in the Herman Melville’s Confidence Man.Lepage equates these sort of stories in his Coeurs and previous Piques with the dissimulation one might find in card games:
“Card games carry with them a system/ ensemble of rules, signs, mathematical or numerological structures, of mythologies, and especially of characters. In combining these and ordering them, we can create as many histories as there are agencies possible. Card games incited to explore different aspects of linked to gambling, but also of temporality, chance, probability, and divination.”
So with such panoply of options through this throw of the cards, as it were, the story then moves us to present time Quebec where the Quebec born/ Algerian descent taxi driver Chaffik and Québecoise Cinema Studies teacher, Judith, fall in love. Coeurs then moves back and forth through these contemporary and past narrative/s, like the deck of cards being shuffled and dealt.
Lepage wants to display Algerian historiography, some underpinnings of our present “clash of civilizations”, and the story of how Chaffik’s family game to be in Montreal from Algeria. Of course, the formerly Quebec based Lebanese writer Wajdhi Mouwad has been deploying such a transhistorical approach for some years.
With – the young Algerian descent taxi driver – Chaffik, his dedicated hard working Algerian father, his boisterous Algerian grandmother, the smart/ eager/liberal Québecoise- Judith, her racist Québecoise mother, her stiff hegemonic “Australian” dad, the scientific Jean- Eugene Robert- Houdin, and his boisterous drunk wife – Lepage offers us stock characters: types that unfortunately often do not go past their cardboard cutting and the “stockness” of their characters. We don’t often enter into the deep “who” of these characters. And, in such a narrative of interpersonal matching and shadowing, in such a narrative of transhistorical join the dots, this is essential. If one looks to Faulknerian gothic which can certainly be taken as the 20th century example par excellence of how to deal with nation, family (join the dots), inveteracy, love/ hate, and secret family skeletons, in Lepage’s Coeurs there were not enough of those silences and shadows that tell more than a direct dialogue ever can. At many dream-like points, Lepage employed the most beautiful hypnotic imagery of a single character making continuous circles, walking non stop around the circular stage to show the passage between past and present historical narratives. These dervish like circles started to give us the hypnotic suggestion we needed to move beyond present and past realities and project a new sense of contemporary citizenship onto past tragedies and project something new onto our own rhythms of the night.5
I do wish Lepage would have employed more of these sort of silent ritualistic cues like the continuous circles6, rather than for instance the racist mom and dad spouting out ridiculously about their proto-son in law (Chaffik’s) terrorist leanings. One gets the point Lepage is making: Let us collectively in a theater piece see how ridiculous their racism is. But, at a certain point, one wonders about how more useful it would perhaps be to get into the head of such racists and understand exactly what is behind their false consciousness’ brawn and not brains. We remained distant from these characters (the racist mother and father) except as outsiders to their own personal (racial) hallucinations.
Of course, Lepage illustrated very well Chaffik’s journey to find his lost Algerian grandfather but this serious journey could not mesh well with the other stories whose deep interiorities were not always illustrated as cleanly. Judith’s decision to turn to Islam and wear a hijab and her parents (formerly excommunicating her) sudden acceptance of Judith, her miscegenation and Chaffik’s grandmother as a roommate seem too tidy. But it certainly is the ending we hope for, in a multicultural society, when we are looking for common grounds in our contemporary society profusely decorated with these realities. How one lives with the Other and Other histories? It is especially Coeur’s denouement of this and its stories which is being called into question. And of course one doe shave to ask if Lepage could join the points, more often in silent coalescing assemblages rather than through the the phatic realities of everyday words.
With brilliant stagecraft which moved with incredible bravado and sleight of hand, like the unfolding of a butterfly’s wings- slight, translucent, effervescent, effective- conveying the magic of moving through the ages from colonial Algeria to contemporary Quebec: Lepage’s stage would be at once a dinner Quebec and switch back through hidden levers and actions simply going into slits into the stage and other appearing, to then be a dinner in colonial Algeria.
But despite all this- the total-story of the play did not hold its own to develop the true cohesiveness that could entrance. Yes an awareness might have grown in audience members about how they/ we treat Others and Other histories, but what might be additionally interesting in future installments of Lepage’s trilogy or quad are characters deep explorations of necessary self questioning and sense of complicity that we should all feel when faced with History’s large questions and stories, which with present media’s daily unveilings we can no longer hide behind.
The true machinations of all characters’ personal individuations and not simply glosses
The Rhythm Of The Night
In one of contemporary“scenography’s” greatest scenes (of the last 20 years) of complicity, individuation, interiority, and colonial history – film director Claire Denis employs an unexpected dance to finish her film. French actor Denis Lavant dances seriously to the otherwise not so serious global pop sensation The Rhythm Of The Night.
Lavant’s character Galoup , the commander’s former bulldog, is now ostracized from his life long community in the Foreign Legionnaires, after the commander chooses another young man to lead. All the hubris and empty bubble hidden by hubris is burst and Galoup has nothing left. Not only is their a deconstruction of the empty shell of Western “power” and military life, but this character’s own opinions are burst. Denis’ film masterfully illustrates the “necessary” unpacking of Western gaze and hubris so necessary at this time. I was reminded of Lepage’s characters who played Judith’s father and mother: their own need to come clean. Lepage’s play ends and we still do not see the necessary dance7 of these characters – their own revelation/ realization. This is what I would have like to have seen in Judith’s “racist” mother and father – them naked and set before the very emptiness they were hiding behind- their complicity, individuation, interiority. It is not just the Other (as Lepage does represent with Chaffik) that we must give space to, in examining contemporary representations, but we must also give space to examine what is going on inside the head of those who ruthlessly dominate the scene, those in positions of “power”8. The complete revelation of all parties is so necessary to begin to understand the contemporary rhythm of our night: acknowledging all our complicities and finding the key to common grounds (of transparency). The such would not just be theatre which is historical but be a theater of history. And is only there, as Robert Lepage suggests from his analogy of cards that “we can create as many histories as there are agencies possible”.
1 The play is part of an ongoing trilogy or “quad” of plays, so far based on cards.
2 The round stage and hall/ theatre looks wooden and gives the feel of an early twentieth century circus. In actuality, it is one of the most technologically sophisticated stages in North America built by the Cirque de Soleil.
4 This scene from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road came to mind while being in TOHU’s cavernous theatre: imagistic, shadowy, silent, and intemporal.
5 I am thinking of Faulkner’s first few pages in his Absalom Absalom. Also to be noted, the filmmaker Claire Denis has been playing with new kinds of psychical impositions onto past histories since her earliest films.
6 The circles start to look like the American artist Richard Serra’s beautiful circle drawings or Joan Jonas’ performances with circles.
7Very well written article on the Claire Denis scene by Julie de Lorimier, “De La Danse Comme Révélateur- Denis Lavant Dans Beau Travail”, in 24 Images June/ July 2014.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a classroom or a strip club or a bus stop or a Mile End apartment—you can think about sex wherever you are. And not just sex as an act or a symbol but sex as sexuality, as its ascriptions and prescriptions. You can think about sexuality in relation to yourself, you can wonder about it in relation to another. The fictionalized verbatim play The History of Sexuality commands that you think about it, theoretically, relationally and personally, for its duration.
Writer, director and producer Dane Stewart is a Montreal-based, multidisciplinary queer artist and academic. Stewart’s method stemmed in part from his question, “How do you ethically write someone outside of your own life experience?” He interviewed queer folks in Montreal, transcribed their discussions, and worked their words, experiences and edit suggestions into the fictional narrative that is The History of Sexuality, shown at MainLine Theatre this September. The result is an ensemble of dynamic and dimensional characters that appear to possess real histories. Stewart’s well-timed punches through the fourth wall of theatre are facilitated by these respectful stand-ins for real experience.
The ‘quirky lesbian professor’ figure of Marie guides five on-stage students and the audience, Greek-chorus-like, through Michel Foucault’s three-volume tome charting sexuality in the western world. Between drags on her vape and jokes about Cinéma l’Amour, Marie asks her class of Concordia Master’s students to define sex, to explain power, to critique the French philosopher. They do so through the spotlight’s sudden flicker onto their own scenes of interiority.
Marie (Renée Hodgins) and Gayle (Annette Marmen) experiment with their relationship following a challenge to Gayle’s physical ability. Photo: Peter Ryaux-Larsen.
It is the knowledge of Stewart’s innovation that makes the production. Reminding ourselves that the characters are based on people we live with in this city (and, for some of us, on people we live with in this city’s queer community), the stories gain a heaviness. Knowledge of ‘the real’ legitimizes, and without it the characters may be read as simplified clichés: the submissive twink, the hot virgin, the ignorant straight white male who wears white button-downs and confusing shoes (compliments to the costume designer; straight white men often wear confusing shoes). The characters’ ridges and bumps of individuality protrude in the important conversations they hold between themselves. A crash course on stripping is narrated in synchronicity with an exposition of escorting. The multiple, distinctly individual modes of sexuality and approach are made visible, as are the points of intersection. While these interactions play out under the spotlight, it feels as though the characters stilled in darkness are listening in, just like us. Acknowledging that nothing happens in a vacuum is rare for theatre. Why shouldn’t the painful, pacing anxiety attack of Madeleine impact the refusal of definition made by ‘boy-girl’ Darr? And then there is the collective orgasm, characters alone and coupled in their corners of pleasure on stage, to capture that feeling of ‘everyone is fucking on a Friday night.’
While a range of lived experiences is made visible (to our voyeuristic delight and pedagogical benefit), what is unfortunately invisibilized is racial difference. Save for one character, who must carry the impossible weight of racialized sexuality all on her own back, the cast is white. This is not representative of the queer experience. Representation is a widespread problem in the Montreal arts, but The History of Sexuality is another reminder that we are not changing, or not changing enough. In Foucault’s words, revolution does not always lead to social upheaval.
But it is also Foucauldian to say that a challenge to power comes from detaching the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic, and cultural. The play possesses an academic bent that is ultimately humorous (“Don’t try to second-wave me, Alissa,” mocks Darr). In such a context, The History of Sexuality is productive because it imbues the conversation with lived experience. Lived experience is not hegemonic.
“Think about all of the people in your life,” requests Madeleine (or actor Natalie Liconti, or an anonymous interview Liconti represents—here these lines are unclear and interwoven) before the second act. “Who do you think is the happiest?” Foucault didn’t think happiness existed; it is not truly thinkable. But sometimes Marie steps off her professorial podium and offers her students tequila, and sometimes we revel in a time, or a person, or ourselves, and we see that experience as happy.
Talia (Katharine King) drags the mattress off stage after describing her experience of sexual assault. Photo: Peter Ryaux-Larsen.
Watching the interplay of stories in The History of Sexuality, the individual empathizes with some more than others. Recognizing the points of puncture elucidates something about one’s own sexuality. Ask, ‘What am I focusing on the most in this kaleidoscope?’ It could be Craig’s request to see more of his polyamorous, dominant partner whom he calls ‘Sir,’ or Talia’s account of her rape. The latter is particularly powerful. Overhead audio of the interviewee echoes the words she gave Talia, and Talia drags the mattress from the bed to off-stage (a nod to Emma Sulkowicz’s Mattress Performance at Columbia University?)
The play is an echo not only during Talia’s account or Marie’s libidinous recitations of Foucault’s name (“Foo-CAULT…Fooooo-cault”). It echoes us.
Stewart acknowledges that, “antithetical to its title, the play by no means offers a comprehensive history of sexuality.” If an echo, The History of Sexuality is a story anthology carrying the voices of a few real, queer lives, reverberating off the walls and hitting us so we understand.
Studio XX is pleased to welcome, from May 3rd to June 14th, 2017, as part of the 2017-18 residency program, Julia Dyck, Belen Arenas, Amanda Harvey.
The XX Files is a weekly radio show broadcast on CKUT 90.3FM. For the past 20 years, the rotating lineup of radio hosts have explored technology, art, and society from an intersectional feminist perspective.
The current hosts (Julia Dyck, Belen Arenas, Amanda Harvey) will use the residency at Studio XX to deepening the show’s potential for experimentation and disembodied performance by dissecting the themes of identity production, memory creation, and sonic ownership and boundaries.
During this residency, the artists will produce three audio documentaries including journalism, drama, sound art, original music to be mixed and produced live as a audio visual performance. Focused mostly on sonic production, the audio will be enough to stand on its own in a radio broadcast, but will be accompanied by an experimental video. The audio visual experience will act as a live radio broadcast and performance. This ephemeral performance of live mixing and collaging of interviews, original music, media samples, and spoken word will be recorded and broadcast on the XX Files radio show afterwards.
Preface to Festival Transamériques (FTA) 2017 – Interview with Interview Rimini Protokoll from Berlin Presents – 100% Montreal
How does a city represent itself? I mean really represent itself. Represent itself, not in the proportions of a kind of advertising campaign, but rather with it’s true fabric- revealing its very marrow, or as might be said in French, “dans sa veritable chair”. The representation of a city has huge implications. That is – how a city is represented is very high stakes, first for the very life bread of a city- it’ s economy. A city which promotes itself as welcoming thus might attract a larger number of “qualified” individuals that can add to its professional class and provide the very oil that can run the city’s engine, and then of course higher economic gain, tax dollars, and ultimately a better way of life “for all”.
Of course, any forward thinking contemporary person knows that a city’s realities, despite its economic power might fall short of that “for all”. The real stakes of the “for all” are part of a larger equation, an equation that might not always be the primary interest of the very architects of the city, although this “for all” might be part of the rhetoric of their framing the city, spoken at those very critical beginnings and junctures that decide a city’s next breaths of growth.
Many years ago, the urban city guru Richard Florida, at the big $ invitation of the City of Montreal had encouraged what many feel were his questionable suggestions on the vitality of his own idea of the creative class (a specific looking and thinking creative class he defined in limited and specific demographic terms) being (as he deemed)a necessary group (in that specific demographic he cited) to come to cities, almost like a colonial entity, but of course all in the interest of “everyone’s” prosperity.
To be sure, whatever one’s assessments of Florida’s suggestions (some of whose idea of the necessity of creativity for a city certainly rang true, but of course with possibly a limited window of who would be doing that creativity), the city-culture intelligentsia of cities like Montreal were gaga-eyed over the “then” trending Richard Florida, who according to many felt he told these cities what they wanted to hear.
So fast forward to Montreal at its 375th anniversary and what of this city that Florida once named the secret gem of North America, only to years later retract these ideas on Montreal, and also to years later retract much of the power he felt his particular theory of the creative class held for cities.
The avant-garde theatre festival (FTA) Festival Transamériques has consecrated the task of giving a snapshot of what Montreal is, to the German theatre collective Rimini Protokoll, through their 100% project, which has been done across the globe. And as they have said in our interview, they definitely have not just a created a portrait of Montreal’s creative class, but as their 100% Montreal program says …
“Just who are Montrealers, and what’s on their minds? Onstage 100 citizens portray 100% of the city’s population. Men, women or trans, adults, children and teenagers, atheists, Muslims and Jews, they draw a map of Montreal in a vibrant, exhilarating exercise in self-portrayal.
In this survey probe by the masters of documentary theatre the Rimini Protokoll collective, Montrealers will see themselves as they really are. Who avoids paying taxes? Who is against the wearing of the veil in public places? Who has cheated on his/her lover or spouse? Without any filters, without beating around the bush, the courageous participants of 100 % Montréal respond to all questions, both the banal and the very serious. Moving onstage as though in an organic diagram–never have statistics been so full of life!–they incarnate public opinion in sensitive fashion, dramatically revealing its unpredictable movements. A candid look at the multiple identities of our city.( From the FTA Program)
We sat down with two of the participants of 100% Montreal and with director…to discuss the ins and outs, of first choosing a representative sample of Montreal and then of initiating real talk among 100 Montrealers, on Montreal’s its 375th anniversary .
100% Montreal is a valiant attempt in its scale; the project might have missed have not been a platform for certain particular “silently visible” demographics like those born in the Montreal of foreign parents, feeling neither from here nor there . But then, “internal exile” might come in all shapes and forms.
The candid discussion of how many felt about trans and gay identity was a highlight of the project, according to the director. But, at the end of the day, the project’s goal is to give air to such occlusions and silences (and there are many) (yes beyond what some might consider the “vapid” lives of Richard Florida’s creative class) and as we see in the interview with two participants and the director, 100 % Montreal certainly might have enough fodder and luminous elucidations about the pleasure and pains of being in and around 100 % Montreal, living and playing in Canada’s French-Canadian gem, Montréal. Ultimately, a message of coexistence seems to have emanated from this grand scale documentary installation.
Interview with Rimini Protokoll Re 100% Montréal director Stefan Kaegi
How do you embed yourself, in the same sense a war reporter might embed themselves with a military unit. How do you get embedded so that “as someone from outside”, to get an accurate snapshot of representing Montreal on stage in your 100% Montreal?
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
I think that is not our strategy. We are inviting the whole troop/ troupe, if you want to stick to the army terms, to do something with us here. Different from If I was an actor and I needed to perform 100% Montreal and not being from the city, I would try and go into the city and get into the mood, like method acting and then I would go onstage and then very “fakely” represent, but I am not going on stage. We’re just actually helping the Montrealers to go on stage. The sensitive and complex part of it is how to find, to identify 100 people, that kind of representative. How to find the right stringers. Our strategy is that we were here a year ago I made contact with a friend of a friend from the statistical office and we started talking about how to represent the city, and we looked at numbers.
First, we tried to define gender percentages- 48% male/ 52% female would have to be onstage. We also have a trans participant which is not in the city statistics but we felt this represents the city as well. And then age groups and immigrants- but there was a discussion with them- do we go by passport, by parents birth/ origin. And so we decided for birthplace. We went by precise percent, so like in the case of the Haitian community, they represent 3% of Montreal’s population, so we included three Haitians. Then we go by neighbourhoods- five zones etc. Structures of household etc.
So we chose the statistician, who was a friend of a friend, to be the first one. Then we decided, we don’t choose the people because anyways we don’t know the city so how would we be able to choose. But also, we said also said the Festival should also not choose the 100 people, because they mainly know people from the theatre world, which is probably less than 1% of the population. So we said he, statistician choose one, then he chose the next- the friend of his daughter, who is a different gender, age, and from a different neighbourhood. Then she chose her best friend, then that person chose their mother, mother chose pupil, pupil chose sister, and so on and so on.
But aren’t you staying within a similar chain of related people? Don’t you think since you went from this person to that person, they might have more of a chance of sharing similar opinions?
(He shows me the book 100% Montreal they have printed that shows and describes each of the 100 Montrealers that were chosen. The selection started with a man from the statistical bureau, then his daughter, then a friend or classmate then mother of a classmate, then cousin of classmate, then a work friend etc until hopefully towards the 100th person, a far unconnected distance and difference might be arrived at, from the initial first link.)
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
No, we started with the statistician, a white man from Outremont. And you know the social experiment of six degrees of separation anyways. And they (the participants) would have never met if this project had happened. Anyways, we will see and there is a different thing we need to take care of. When we come with an invitation to take part in a cultural project, there will always be those who say, ” Oh I have a friend and he loves theatre and he would love to participate”. But there, we always say no. No art lovers as well.
So I guess what you are saying is that by the 100th person, there is no relationship to that first person.
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
Yeah, and there is also the fact that after 60th or 70th person chosen along this string, it becomes too complex for this one to find someone with similar ideas, because everyone in her age group, neighbourhood, in her migration structure might be gone to choose from. Our production coordinator Laurence also made sure we had people with conservative values and opinions since such a project has a certain kind of tolerance inscribed, whether you want or not , and so it is easier to find multicultural tolerant, so she made sure there were people with conservative values and opinions. And of course, we need these other ones and we do have them in the piece.
I heard there was some contention about French vs English language that came up?
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
Yeah, there were tensions. If you squeeze the whole city into it and if and when some participants saw and for instance said “how many people speak English and this is not my city”. This has happened. There were also tensions around the trans -woman. I was very shocked to hear about how many people were against gay adoption.
Yeah, because you are asking the participants question during the show.
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
Yes, the show is that we form groups of people that might have had the same experiences. For instance, we ask people if they have been in a war and who has served as a soldier. And it is a very interesting group because you have some people that been in Congo and been involved in a war and we have a young woman who has worked as a psychologist for Canadian troops and never been to a war. So you have interesting combinations of who has thought of suicide and you have younger and older who stand together for all types of reasons in this group.
And what do you think this can bring to a city like Montreal.
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
It is a bit what theatre always does. It tries to be a mirror of the society. I am not sure it will be a mirror to the audience because that is another question. Who is sitting in a theatre like this and who comes to the Festival Transamériques. But here our oldest participant, (he calls to her but she does not hear him). She is 88 years old and she has a very different mind view. She says when she grew up, it was all catholic here and she told me that at 7pm in the evening when she was young in Montreal, they were broadcasting prayers through the radio and she would go along with the radio and pray the rosaries, so it is a very different Montreal than after. She says that Expo 67 was the moment of a flip- when Montreal suddenly turned into an international and kind of scary for society.
Did she talk about that in stage or private interviews?
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
A bit of both
So in terms of this being what is called documentary theatre. Does this just remain documentary?
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
It is tricky to say it is a documentary. On one hand, it tries to be. It comes along with this gesture of anthropological study and we try and be as scientific as possible, going through the numbers. But then again, what we create here is a public…for instance if one of our questions to the participants on stage is, “Who betrayed their partners?” In the space that is designated for people who answer yes to that, is a certain group who may not want to stand there, because they might know people in the audience who know them and they don’t want to be seen standing there. Also, there is a bit of artificiality in the set up that comes- music , light , video that often may it look like an opera production.
But fiction can bring truth also?
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
Yeah, and 100% Montreal is definitely telling about the city. It is authentic or not, there are so many layers of authenticity. They are who they are saying who they are, but we rehearsed so do we transform that into something else or not. I don’t know. Transform it into something more musical? It is the numbers and the faces behind those numbers.
One last one. I and a lot of my critical community are always suspicious of the early successes of the urban planner Richard Florida to influence the city about the relationship of governmentality to culture through an idea of a specifically included and excluded demographics of a particular creative class he specified being necessity to building successful cities. The fear being that culture and various other terms that come along with it like diversity often being promulgated via a governmental voice and even arts organizations starting to follow the government’s approach to how these issues are treated. Using culture to form their own agenda filled ideas of exclusion and inclusion. You Rimini Protokoll 100 % Montreal looks like an amazing citizen initiative. Why do you think something like this is important to do as a citizen and not as a member of the government.
(Off- interview: One should recall the previous Parti Québecois government’s attempts at having citizen express their views about they felt about others in their community: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW9TWmj3qp4)
In this regard citizen initiatives like Rimini Protokolll’s 100 % Montreal are of utmost necessity.
Stefan Kaegi Rimini Protokoll:
This is not just a community initiative. For instance, it is important we pay the performers. For instance, we have a contract with them. It is not that they should be volunteering for this. This is necessary because if not we would only get the tolerant, open minded people that are happy to be on stage and express themselves (he laughs), and I do not want to see that 100% Montreal crowd because that will no be the city. So for us, it is about representation as theatre always is in that sense as before the King was the one being represented in Baroque theatre. Now we are living in a democracy so we should represent the people. And it’s a complex thing -what the people is and that is the interesting side of it to ask, as well, then there are problems with it because if for instance, there are 40000/ 60000 “sans-papers” in this city. No one knows exactly where they are and we cannot have on stage because they are not in the stats. Because if they show themselves and say they are sans-papiers, they may have problems. There are limits to this work and maybe… so that the “representativity”of it, the government-like is interesting because on stage we are almost like a parliament, trying to represent, but a parliament does not have children, does not have uneducated people, does not have certain age groups, and certain migration groups that would not be speaking the language. So we might be a little closer than what the representation is than a government parliament, but then again our decisions will not be executed out there, but it probably might be better that way.