Shortstanding Festival: Bold Pieces in a Tiny Space

Shortstanding Festival. Elisabeth Yale , Rosaruby Kagan - Live Action Theatre Project - Line Up A

Espace Freestanding Room hosts its second annual Shortstanding festival from February 4th to February 15th, offering 9 performances over separate evenings, each featuring either line up A or line up B. This Wednesday, I had the pleasure of seeing line up A, which consisted of four performances.

Lex Youssef, Tania Dos Santos, Lesley Pahl - Typhoid - Line Up A

When was the last time you saw puppets working puppets?

Lex Youssef, Tania Dos Santos, Lesley Pahl – Typhoid – Line Up A

An excerpt of Jonathan Fournier’s work in progress, Typhoid, is the story of Mary Mallon whose life derails when she becomes accused of being a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. Throughout the excerpt, we meet Mary Mallon, read by Lesley Pahl, Dr. George Soper, a sanitation engineer, read by Lex Youssef, Mary’s friend Elizabeth and Ms. Brant the assistant read by Tania Dos Santos. Following the reading, Fournier seemed eager to receive audience feedback on this research based piece about Typhoid Mary’s story and its impact on medical science.

The Live Action Theatre Project created by Julia Ainsworth and Rosaruby Kagan offers new realms of audience interaction in this second phase of a work in progress. Freestanding is an ideal space with a perfectly sized audience for a piece such as this one where three characters reach out to the audience for aid in their individual dilemmas. In a brief interaction with Kagan who has a background in drama therapy, I asked, “Did that come from drama therapy?” to which she responded, “Haha! You put that together!”

Sabrina Miller - Which Is Best - Line Up A

Sabrina Miller – Which Is Best – Line Up A

Bazooka Theatre’s Which is Best? is a collaboration between Resident Designer Sabrina Miller and Producing Artistic Director Jen Quinn. This piece comes from a Howard Pyle story which was used as a platform to workshop the idea of storytelling with puppets using puppets. This experimental piece must be recognized for its impressive storyteller/puppeteer who tells the entire story in a squat position. The few moments of ad libbing earned and using the unpredictable elements that surfaced in the room earned laugh and warmed hearts. At one point, and audible “so cute” was voiced from an audience member.

Nic Turcotte - Trappings - Line Up A

Nic Turcotte – Trappings – Line Up A

The evening came to a close with a work in progress performance piece entitled Trappings by Nic Turcotte. The program leaves everything to the imagination as all the information provided says “Trappings… Something or other by Nic Turcotte”. The audience’s response appeared to be quite mixed for this bold experimental piece wherein Turcotte holds the space using merely his being. Turcotte offers unsuspecting audiences a new flavour for their palettes. I hesitate to say more since Turcotte seems to have intentionally left so much to mystery.

The Shortstanding Festival takes place until Feburary 15 in Espace Freestanding Room (4324 St. Laurent, #300 3rd floor) at 8 p.m. $15/12 or $20 for two nights. The line ups are as follows: Wednesday February 11th – Line Up B (8:00pm); Thursday February 12th – Line Up A (8:00pm); Friday February 13th – Line Up A (8:00pm); Saturday February 14th – Line Up A (2:00pm); Saturday February 14th – Line Up B (8:00pm); Sunday February 15th – Line Up A (8:00pm).