Welcome to our new Forum Artists!

Today has been the start of rehearsal for our 5th year performing Mixed Messages for colleges and universities in Southern Ontario.  Mixed Messages creates dialogue about sexual assault on a college/university campus and the grey areas that exist as we navigate new relationships while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.  Having just walked out of rehearsal, I am extremely excited about the artists involved in this year’s production and I want to introduce them to you.

Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome the new team.

Michelle Jedrezejewski

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Using theatre as a tool for social awareness and change is one of the things Michelle loves about this profession and this company, so she couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining the cast of Mixed Messages as Teesha.

Michelle recently played Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Rose Theatre) and Wendy in Top Gun! The Musical (The Lower Ossington Theatre). Other select favourite theatre credits include Viola in Twelfth Night, Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Catherine in Waiting for the Parade, the Woman in the V-Day World Premiere of The Treatment and Rachel in Voices (a production she co-created with fellow company members of Theatre After Four).  Michelle extends her sincerest thanks to the Mixed Company Theatre team for this extraordinary opportunity and her family and friends for their love and support.

Catherine Martel

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Film/ TV: Between Heaven and Ground Zero; The Atrophy (Web); Lovers & Strangers; Audition Me; Teach’er; Human Extinction League. Theatre: Our Town; Bleaker Street Blues; Five Women Wearing the same Dress; Bye Bye Birdie; Anne of Green Gables: The Musical; Wonderland Other: Second City; Humber Film & TV; Catherine also writes and works in technical production. She currently lives in Toronto is working on producing her first film.

Michael Iliadis

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Theatre credits: Far From the Heart (Sheatre); An Inspector Calls, Tons of Money, Johnny Belinda, Pygmalion (The Montgomery Theatre); Red Light Winter (Another Theatre Co.); Scrooge: A New Years Carol (Bain & Bernard Comedy/St. Lawrence SF); Pride and Prejudice (The Grand Theatre); Bent (Theatre Engine); Blood Buds, School’s Out! (Beggar’s Bag Theatre); The “You’ve Never Seen Anything Like It” Show!, Time Machine Adventure Time! (Bain & Bernard Comedy/The Junction Arts Festival), A Glendale Christmas (Hamilton Fringe), Anything Goes (Unionville Theatre Company); The Drawer Boy (Richmond Hill Curtain Club); graduate of the Ryerson Theatre School Acting Program.

More to come from the team:

A conversation with Michael Iliadis –  Creating dialogue with youth about sexual assault.

Stay wired. 🙂

Theatrical Hacking – a new form of theatre?

Several months ago, an article written by J. Kelly Nestruck about a Montreal Theatre artist raised some controversy among my select group of theatre Facebook friends and associates.  The article discussed Olivier Choiniére’s ‘Theatrical Hacking’ which took place at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde 60th anniversary Season opener.  Essentially – for the sake of keeping things brief – Choiniére

had bought the entire second balcony of the theatre for the final performance of director Yves Desgagnés’s production of L’École des femmes by Molière, and each of the Projet blanc spectators was given a ticket to the show. They were instructed to hide their headphones (and their intentions) until the house lights went down – and then put them back on and press play.

Take a read of the full article here.

The article and idea intrigued me to respond to several of the FBook threads going about, and in a hope to collect my thoughts, I decided I was going to write a more thoughtful post, which I then did and then forgot to post.  🙂

So although the conversation on Fbook has passed and the article I am sure has been forgotten, I recently stumbled onto the post and wanted to live up to my promise.  Should you have any responses please email me, or post below. Would love to know what everyone else thinks.

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This is a very interesting debate, and though I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment which Choiniere presented in his commentary – at least my understanding of it (negative opinion thus influencing the overall first experience of a theatre goer) and would not do this myself without first planning with the artist in question – I do find the concept and event fascinating.

Firstly, these individuals who attended the podplay event, were not audience members for TNM’s theatrical event, but for Choiniere’s.  Though the performance space and subject of focus for commentary was TNM’s, the audience was brought to this experience though Choiniere.  So these individuals paid Choiniere, who then paid TNM for several more seats than needed meaning nothing tangible was technically taken from TNM, aside from the monopoly of audience’s attention.  Due to the steps Choiniere took, he ended up paying a premium for TNM’s production, of which TNM profited (Choiniere purchasing the entire balcony for audience less than capacity).  This audience may never have attended TNM’s production if not for Choiniere, so in a way Choiniere helped to market this show.  Even though his commentary was negative, the cliche ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity,’ must be considered because this ‘hack’ activity has brought great publicity to both Choiniere and TNM, which I assume will be beneficially to both parties.   Lastly, there is no way to tell whether or not the select audience members that experienced Choiniere’s experiential version of TNM’s production will stop at this first influenced viewing or if they are intrigued enough by the presentation to view it without Choiniere’s commentary.  This would likely depend on the value of the subject, in this case TNM’s production, and the personality type of the audience member, but even the journalist mentioned the potential of the idea to create repeat viewings.

Now it wasn’t clear to me whether the Choiniere audience was able to hear an equal mix between the TNM production and Choiniere’s podplay.  Some feel that there is no way they could have, but depending on sound in the space and whether they plugged both ear buds in, there could have been an audience member experience that was a mix of both the production and commentary.  I assume that this would have been disorienting, but without experiencing it myself or hearing from the audience in question, I can’t say whether there is value in the effect. It may be an interesting journalistic venture to speak to these individuals as a case study of the effectiveness of the event concept.  I would be very interested to hear their opinions as to how it affected their experience as well as their impression of the TNM show.

I think the crux of the issue is the ‘hacking’ of communication between artist and audience, of which I am somewhat indifferent.  I assume if this were my production, I would initially be angry, but that anger would be a result of surprise of my artistic expression being criticized and the sacred theatrical space I created being co-opted.  We are traditionally used to some span of time between production and criticism, but Choiniere has used technology to tighten this time gap, and thus inserted the criticism into the production.  TNM’s expression was not altered, but rather reframed and resold to a new audience, for which TNM effectively received royalties (Choiniere’s purchase of the balcony seats – as stated above).

Doing this without permission is where the rub lies, and I am not sure if terming it a ‘rape’ is appropriate or inflammatory.  I suppose inserting one’s opinion into the experience of these audience members without permission from the artist could be considered ‘rape,’ but the experience is not the artist’s it is the audience member’s and these viewers were consenting parties in the action.  It did not alter or change the production, only the experience for those that knowingly took part.

Consider the YES Men and their hacking of corporate events, are they committing a similar form of ‘performance rape?’ I am sure the corporations they imitate would consider so, but many of us in the arts find these antics, clever and needed to push forward an anti-corporate agenda thus creating public dialogue and discourse.  Should Choiniere have started performing in the balcony for his audience thus influencing the entire space I would agree   Using private listening devices keeps the experience just that – private.  If a young audience member chooses to listen to their personal music list, which in the theatre – is that youth performing ‘theatrical rape?’

Just terming this a rape seems grossly misplaced.  Rape is a severe assault on someone’s mental, emotional and physical being; an event that forever alters a person’s life and mind. Rape’s goal is to destroy personal power and oppress.   Choiniere’s actions, though exploitive, were not comparable to this deplorable act.  I understand the connotation with which the statement ‘theatrical rape’ suggests, but it is insulting to victims of rape to compare their experience to that of an artist’s production being exploited.

Choiniere is attempting to connect shadow tech/internet culture with that of theatrical culture – just calling this event a ‘hack’ is clear indication of this.  This is exciting to me.  The sentiment of invading an artist’s space without their permission could be considered an assault (depending on the artist), similar to one’s hacking of a computer for information.  A question to those in the FB’o’sphere is whether you consider wiki-leaks from hacked sources to be an assault on the government, or a right of the public to information and transparency?  It could be argued that the traditional two party communication of message and meaning from artist to audience has been altered into three party communication, which isn’t necessarily bad, just different.  Of course, this three party concept depends on whether each voice can be appreciated and interpreted simultaneously, which may not be the case, but nonetheless the act and the concept are not ‘assault,’ rather exploitation.

Perhaps this action helps us artists to not be so sacred and, as some would say, ‘precious’ with our expression.   Perhaps this could effectively help to strengthen expression and diversify theatre to a public that cannot receive the value of a traditional performance.  Choiniere has further commoditized the audience’s real-time experience of art.  Potentially with this door open, there is possibility for anyone to sell their opinion within live events, which could be dangerous for our traditional understanding of performance art, but it could have the reverse effect and make our work as artists speak more clearly to audiences.

What is certain is that Choiniere brought to the public’s eye a new form of communication with audience.  As of now he is the only person I have heard of that has used the smart phone as a value add to auditory experience in live performance.  He may not be the first, but for me he is, so I respect this.  This could provide great opportunity for a more layered and invasive theatrical experience.  Consider themes, character, direction and design that is created with these listening device that adds to the live performance.  This direct personal connection to your audiences hearing could provide an intimacy no other event could create; whispers and confessions too secret for public expression.

Specifically for our style of work at MCT – and I would assume other community arts organizations – this theatrical layer could create great opportunity for continued community collaboration.  Think Project: Humanity’s The Middle Place spliced with the voices of the individual sheltered youth.  Obviously this specific example given may have its own ethical issues, but if a project was created with transparency from all sides it could be a wonderful layer to performance.

Overall, I am fascinated by the concept, and intrigued by the debate.  I don’t think I sit in support or in opposition, but I do think the dialogue is needed as we navigate the relevance of theatre in modern life.  I don’t know what was stated during the commentary, but it seems to me that the idea is more valuable than the specific real time review that was offered.  His version of this concept seems less DVD commentary, as the journalist stated, and more MuchMusic comedy commentary on music videos and pop culture.  Not exactly the height of theatrical protest activism. Either way a good discussion piece.   I wonder what Peter Brook would think?

We are holding general auditions for our upcoming 2012 – 13 season. Send us your stuff.

posted in: Announcements | 0

 GENERAL AUDITIONS for our upcoming 2012-13 season tours.

We are seeking actors/actresses for a NON-UNION shows.

 Actors should be comfortable with / have experience: 

  •            Playing Adolescent characters.
  •            Performing Dramatic Improv
  •            Working with youth

Some experience or knowledge of the following would be an asset:

  •            Singing ability or musicality
  •            Understanding/knowledge of Forum Theatre.

AUDITION DETAILS:       Audition Date(s):         

  • Wednesday May 23rd (10am-5pm)
  • Thursday, May 24th (10am-5pm)
  • Callbacks will be arranged after generals

Audition Location:

  • Mixed Company Theatre
  • 157 Carlton,  suite 201, (corner of Carlton & Sherbourne Streets )  Toronto Ontario, M5A 2K3.        

Submission Details:     

  • Please email your resume and head shot to duncan@mixedcompanytheatre.com        
  • Deadline:  Friday May 18th 2012
  • Prepare for Audition:   2 contemporary monologues: one dramatic and one comedic

Help our AAD win the MAC’s People’s Choice Award. Vote Now!

posted in: Awards | 0
Duncan McCallum, MCT’s Associate Artistic Director

On April 5th, 2012, the MAC released its list of nominees for the 2012 Arts Awards, and in the emerging artist category, our Associate Artistic Director, Duncan McCallum!

Listed among other up and coming theatre artists, poets and musicians, Duncan is one of 23 nominees in his category, so we are hoping that the judges will recognize the amazing work he does in schools and in communities using his art to create dialogue about social issues.  And if not, Duncan is more than honoured to have his work recognized by the MAC.

In addition to this great honour, Duncan is also eligible for the People’s Choice Award.  If Duncan receives the most online votes from people like yourself, he could win.  Please help Duncan win and visit the site to vote.  HERE

Unfortunately for Duncan, he will be unable to attend the event as he has prior obligations at a conference in California.  If you are interested in attending the event, tickets are $25, and are available as of April 13th.  The event will begin at 6pm for some open socializing and the awards ceremony begins at 8pm.

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