Before the show.
I’m going to see this show because my friend Franco has something to do with it! I think he’s the assistant stage manager, but I’m honestly not 100% sure. I do, however, trust Franco and his tastes. I’ve known him since first year, and all the shows we’ve seen together, that he’s been a part of, or that he’s recommended to me have been nothing short of stellar, so I’m sure this will ring true for Blink as well.
This is also the biggest group of people I’ve gone to see a show with for quite some time now—I’m going with three or four other people, instead of alone or with just one other person. I find that it’s always much more fun to go with a bigger group of people, because to me, that adds to the theatricality of it all. Even though you’re inherently going to be part of an audience when you go to watch a show, it doesn’t truly feel like a big audience to me unless the group of people you’re going with is big too. It probably has something to do with knowing the people more personally, and being able to share the experience you had with them, instead of with just one other person. When you know more people in the audience, you have more opportunities to get different perspectives on the exact same event because you were all present for that one live show on that one evening in time. Even though you might see the same live show on a different day, the show will be different because of its live nature, but being able to share the experience of that one unique event in time? Priceless. That’s probably why I enjoy going with more people. (Well, assuming all these people are pleasant show-goers.)
This will also be my first time going to the Gladstone theatre! I love visiting new theatres. I love seeing the way their front of house looks, how the architecture leads people around, how the walls are in the theatre and the way those walls foster the acoustics, how high the ceilings are and how plush the seats will be. There is no standardized theatre, and every theatre I’ve ever been to is slightly different, so I can’t wait to see how the Gladstone will be.
Those are the things I’m looking forward to, because I actually have no idea what this show is about. The ad is bright blue and red and has a person with a television for a head on it, but I don’t even really remember what the ad says, so I’m hoping it’s a cheerful and funny show based on the colours of this ad alone.
I like being surprised by storylines and characters anyways—I find it draws me in more when I have no idea what to expect or what’s about to happen. It makes the whole thing much more enjoyable.
Anyways, I can’t wait to see the Gladstone theatre, and I can’t wait to watch a show with my friends! I have faith that it will be good.
After the show.
The Gladstone was really cute! It’s a very small building, but I enjoyed the feel of it—the little tables with candles, the fact that you could bring drinks inside, the friendly and free coat check. It was quaint.
The show itself was interesting to me because it confronts you with a different kind of modern relationship than what you would expect to be faced with as you come into a theatre to watch a play.
The two main characters are named Jonah and Sophie. Sophie has linked a camera that is recording her apartment to a tablet that she sends to Jonah, but they don’t know each other in person, and Jonah doesn’t know that Sophie is aware she’s being recorded through a camera. Eventually they meet in person and try to make their relationship work, but in the end, decide that their relationship worked better when Sophie was being watched by the camera and Jonah was watching her through the tablet. There might be some other viewpoints, but what I understood about these characters after the course of the play, plainly stated, is this: Jonah is into voyeurism, and Sophie is probably into some sort of clothed exhibitionism (although who knows, she might have stripped in front of the camera at some point in time; it’s never mentioned, but I could see it probably happening).
Why I called it a modern relationship is because it portrays a romantic relationship in which the characters have certain kinks, and after trying things out and discussing it, they decide what the best course of action for their relationship will be, together. The entire show is played off like an adorable meet-cute, with a funny, fast-paced script, quirky characters, and bright colours, but the subject matter could be seen as creepy, if the characters themselves weren’t mutually consenting in their relationship.
Sophie sends Jonah a tablet with a live feed of her apartment. Jonah likes observing so he liked watching her, but I feel like if he wasn’t into that, receiving that tablet would be akin to some sort of PG-rated version of receiving an anonymous dick pic—unwelcome, and kind of creepy. Jonah himself delves into stalking for a little bit when he realizes who Sophie is and where he can find her, and Sophie is aware that he’s stalking her and lets him continue because she likes being observed. If she wasn’t into that, she would have probably called the cops, as another character did when Jonah ended up stalking them for a little bit as well. (Although to be fair, if she wasn’t into that, she probably wouldn’t have even done something like send him the tablet in the first place, and thus wouldn’t have been stalked.) Again, the stalking would have been unwelcome, and definitely creepy, had it not been for the fact that Sophie liked to be stalked (by someone she knew was harmless, anyhow).
Anyways, after watching this, I didn’t know how to feel. My thoughts were that, as long as they’re both consenting, then their relationship was kind of cute—people are into what they’re into, and I’m glad they found someone able to give the other what they wanted in a relationship. Kink-shaming isn’t cool, you know, that sort of stuff. I wasn’t sure, however, how the other people in the audience would feel or what they would be saying coming out of it.
Most people seemed bewildered or at a loss for words, but with the general atmosphere of the show having been a good one. The friends I went with agreed with me that it was a good show, but surprisingly, the whole kink thing just… never explicitly came up. My one friend said she thought it was a really cute play, but was confused about why they went their separate ways in the end. Her boyfriend and I explained that that’s just what they liked and what they wanted from a relationship, and that was the closest it got to outright discussing things like kinks.
It makes sense when you think of the tagline: “Love is whatever you feel it to be”. No matter what they may or may not have been into, they did love each other.
It was a lot of fun going with my friends as well, because we went to grab dinner afterwards and continued to discuss the play. I was right in that going with a bigger group of friends makes it more fun for the bigger shared experience, because they pointed things out to me that I wouldn’t have noticed or ruminated on had it not be for my friends bringing it up again in discussion. For example, I didn’t notice the anachronisms until one of my friends pointed it out—the play is styled in a retro fashion with their suitcases and telephones, but then Sophie buys a small camera and a Tripod, and sends Jonah an Asus tablet—definitely not retro. It’s also fun to hear Franco’s experience of working as the assistant stage manager, and finding out how it was like behind the scenes.
I never thought I’d be talking about kinky things in a blog post that will be marked for a grade, but here we are. I bet the reason why theatre breaks more barriers and plays with more ideas is because at the end of the day, live means ephemeral. Its first runs only reach a certain number of people, whereas movies have the potential of going global very fast, without any further improvements being made. Live theatre can be workshopped, improved, revived, and toured, or it can just die and never see another audience member if it doesn’t do well, and because of this, people can play more. This is just conjecture from me, though.
I really enjoyed this class—I loved having an academic excuse to go watch live theatre, but I also can’t wait to apply what I learned in this class going forward, in all the future shows I watch, and live events I attend.
Thanks for a great course!
Note: I was very sure I was going to catch open question period on March 29, but then I found out that Friday sitting hours happen at 11AM and not 2PM. The following Thursday, I found out that Thursday will have Friday sitting hours when Friday is actually Good Friday. Then I found out the next sitting hours will be after the due date for the blog posts. I'm aware I missed the chance, but I wrote this pre-show entry before I found out about Friday sitting hours so I thought I'd post it anyways. I get it if it doesn't get any marks though—thanks anyways. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Before the show.
I’ve been the most hesitant to approaching this live event because I am completely under the assumption that it’s going to be very boring. I can see the appeal and the theatrical qualities in theatre, dance, orchestra, and sports events—the way the story might hold your attention, the beauty of the music or the movements, the bustle of the crowd, the investment that the audience has in what they’re watching—but I can’t really imagine all that in watching a bunch of politicians debate.
I’m sure it’s very interesting for the people involved, but as someone who doesn’t know much about politics and finds arguments tedious, I can’t imagine myself being very invested in this event. I’m pretty sure I went to go see open question period in the eighth grade, when I went to Ottawa for my elementary school graduation trip, but all I really remember is that there was a phone that could translate to the official language you understand best in real time, and that I sat beside my teacher so I tried my best not to fall asleep (and was failing spectacularly).
I’m hoping I’m proven wrong and it turns out to be quite interesting. I think what I’m going to do is focus on body language and tone of voice, and try to spot when people are agitated or hiding something. That will probably be interesting because it really is absolutely live—they won’t be acting for the sake of an audience, they’ll be discussing things and making decisions that could potentially impact my life as someone who lives in the country they are governing.
I guess that’s what would be intriguing: there is nothing “fake” about this event (aside from maybe some very sneaky politicians, but I don’t think I’ll be able to tell the difference at this point in time). All the events I’ve watched so far have had a certain drama about them, or a sense of showmanship—something they do that will impress the audience, or impress something upon them. What happens during open question period is significant for a large amount of people, even if there is no audience at all to witness it.
Then there’s all the traditional ceremonious stuff that I assume will happen at any event that occurs in parliament, like standing for the national anthem. I can’t really think of any other official ceremonious things that might occur, but I guess I’ll find out soon
I know this is probably a far, far stretch, but I hope there’s a point where they dim the lights dramatically. Literally all the theatrical events I’ve been to so far for this class have had theatrical and dramatic light-dimming before the show started, and it would be so great if open question period was the same. I know it probably won’t happen but a girl can dream.
Note: This is a backdated entry.
Before the show.
I’m a little bit dubious about going into this hockey game. I’m hesitant to say I’ll enjoy it because I’m not a team sports person at all and don’t particularly enjoy watching sports, but I’ve also been to a few provincial games to get volunteer hours and I had fun then. (Go Mississauga Steelheads!)
I’m going with a friend (a born-and-bred Leafs fan) who knows a lot about hockey, and she even knows one of the Sens players! Apparently Matt Duchene is from her hometown, and although she doesn’t know him that well personally, she played hockey with his sister, his dad was her hockey coach, and his mom was her guidance counsellor. Small world, I guess.
Although I don’t think I’ll be very into watching the sport itself, I know that I’ll get caught up in the excitement of the crowd. I love feeling like I’m a part of a community, so I get easily caught up in the energy and the momentum of a big crowd, and I’m sure it’ll be like that when I go to watch the actual game. I might not understand anything about hockey and I might not know anything at all about the Sens, but I’m sure I’ll somehow end up invested in the game, cheering for them and vocally hoping for their win, just because everyone around me will be doing so. I love cheering and being enthusiastic anyways, so I can see myself participating in that respect.
For example, I know nothing about soccer and actually kind of hate playing it (I am definitely not a cardio person), and I generally find watching other people run across big fields boring when it’s on television. When the Euro 2016 was happening, however, I lived with people who liked watching soccer and the Icelandic team definitely caught the world by storm with their underdog story, so I found myself watching the matches with my roommates and even going to a pub to watch with more fans. It was a lot of fun to cheer for a team together with people that I liked, to watch the games and feel a part of that community. I’m sure that’s how I’ll end up feeling when I go to watch the Sens game tonight!
I also know I’ll be intrigued by the athleticism of the players. Watching people move has always been eye catching for me, and I’ll probably be keeping an eye out for any cool moves a player might pull, the speed at which they skate around, how they hold their hockey sticks and position themselves for a play.
I guess I’m looking forward to it a little! At the very least, it will be a fun time with my friend.
After the show.
I actually had a lot of fun at the hockey game! I wouldn’t go so far as to say I will watch hockey all the time from now on, but I was definitely a Sens fan for a solid two hours. I might even like them more than the Leafs, and I’m from Mississauga so that’s almost like betrayal. I even have trading cards! (They were giving them away for free when we entered the place.)
It was a good choice to bring along a friend (her name is Paige) who knows a lot about hockey because I appreciated the game a lot more with a deeper understanding of what was going on. She told me that I got to witness a lot of things that you would want to see in a hockey game, except the actual fighting. There was a goalie switch, and the start of a fight, and one of the players actually hit the plexiglass so hard, it fell onto the ice and they had to move the last two minutes of the period to the beginning of the next one and take the break early because it took a while to get the plexiglass back up.
She also explained all the rules to me as they became relevant in the game. If there’s one thing I know about hockey, it’s the icing rule! (I feel proud about remembering this.)
From a theatrical perspective, I was surprised at just how traditionally theatrical the game was. When we arrived, the players were out on the ice practicing, similar to the way the orchestra was already out on stage. Before the game actually began, they all skated off, the lights went down, and a video was projected onto the rink and on the big screens, hyping up the players, the team, and the game. It created this sense of anticipation and suspense, as if we were about to watch something epic.
There was also standing up for the national anthems of both Canada and America, and how a huge Canadian flag was passed around a section of the audience near the bottom, all tradition and routine (my friend informed me that the passing of the flag was a thing that occurred before every game, no matter the team, and was a tradition in the NHL).
Watching the players do their job was an amazing experience. They were putting on a show as much as they were playing a game, and it is so inspiring to watch people move when they have a mastery over their body, whether that be in sport, in dance, or in theatre. The athleticism these guys possess on ice is unreal (especially since I myself can’t do more than skate forward in a straight line and turn to stop). Another friend of mine who is a huge Sens fan told me that, since Karlsson wasn’t playing this game, I should keep an eye on Duchene (and I already kind of was, as like I mentioned, Paige knew his family), and I was impressed by the way Duchene moved on the ice. There were some things he did on his skates, like the way he turned to avoid another player, or the way he maneuvered himself to steal the puck from the opposing team, that was almost artful in his movements.
One thing that surprised me a little was that there was a lot of hype before the game, but the actual beginning was unceremonious and without much fanfare. I hadn’t even realized the referee dropped the puck until they were already playing. I had assumed after all that suspense, everyone would have been waiting for the first puck to drop with baited breath, but it just… started.
Furthermore, the ending was super anti-climactic, probably in large part because the Sense were losing to the Panthers by five points (the game was unfortunately 2-7 to the Panthers). Paige, who is very much a Leafs fan and almost wore her Leafs jersey to a game that had nothing to do with the Leafs, told me that she’d been to a Sens game once before and she was surprised to see a lot of fans leaving before the game actually ended. She’s been to Leafs games as well and she told me she’s never seen so many people leave before a game finishes than she does at Sens games. It makes me sad to contemplate—it must be demoralizing to see the people who are supposedly your fans leaving before you’re done playing, like they’re deeply disappointed and can’t stand seeing their favourite team lose another game. I think I feel strongly about this because when you’re at a play, a dance, or an orchestral event, leaving early would be viewed as deeply rude and disrespectful to the people on the stage. I guess it’s different for a sports game—maybe it’s treated more like a concert, where people shout and dance and eat and come and go at their leisure.
There are differences in audience decorum based on the live event, and I guess I was mistaken about the kind of decorum you would have at a sports game, treating it in a much more formal manner because I was seeing it with this class in mind.
Anyways, I had a lot more fun than I expected I would at a hockey game, even though I don’t do the team sports thing, and I would gladly go again—provided it was with someone who actually knew stuff about hockey and wouldn’t mind fielding the thousand questions I will undoubtedly ask. Paige was the real MVP of the game in this respect, because she was patient about everything that I asked (and it was a lot).
One last comment: the chicken tenders I bought cost almost as much as my ticket! It’s more expensive than some drinks you might buy during intermission at the NAC. I guess the raised prices of anything being sold in the immediate area of any live event will be the same no matter what it is you’re about to experience. I’m still slightly exasperated about it.
Note: This is a backdated entry.
Before the show.
This is the event I chose for my live event, and it’s probably the most different event from the rest of them in that it’s not a professionally-staged event.
I chose to go to A Day in the Life because my friend Caroline is actually starring in it! It’s an original musical so I don’t really know if I will find it good or not, but I’m hopeful it will be the former, and I’m sure Caroline’s going to be great in it because she gives me the vibes of a good actor.
At this point, I’m mostly looking forward to the show and wondering if knowing someone in the cast will change my experience of the event. Will I enjoy it more just because she’s my friend? Probably—I love supporting my friends so I’m sure that even if I might not enjoy some parts of the show, I’ll try to look for the best in it instead of writing it off completely, for Caroline’s sake.
The proceeds for the tickets are also going to a charity, which makes my attendance feel morally correct, if I’m being completely honest. I’m sure that gives the people participating in the production and the audience members the feeling that whatever goes on tonight, it’s at least happening for a great cause.
Honestly, I’m not really sure what else to write about this because I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to expect, in terms of the story and the performances. Whatever I might think, however, I recognize that putting on any type of live event is a labour of love, and that these people are amazing for rallying together to put on a production for a good cause. Even just looking at the cast list, I can see that there are a lot of people involved, and I’m sure all of them are proud to be a part of this production, to have put in their sweat (and maybe tears, but hopefully no blood), and to put on this show.
After the show.
The show ended up being a feel-good show!
I will admit that the singing and the acting wasn’t the most top-notch singing and acting I’ve ever seen in my life, but like I mentioned, they worked hard and they came together and put on this show and it was still fun to watch. Besides, going up on a stage to perform is already a feat in itself and takes a lot of bravery, in my opinion, so those people are already great for being able to do that.
The storyline itself was about two girls—one a famous singer/actor, the other a girl being bossed around by a clique—and they were both unsatisfied and unhappy in their lives. They end up switching lives due to the interference of a witch, learn some lessons, and end up volunteering at a shelter (and then we find out the witch is actually also someone in charge at the shelter).
At times, the story felt dry and slow, and it turned a little bit preach-y when the girls got to anything involving the shelter, but the message about being happy with what you’ve got and becoming happier by helping others came through loud and clear. Furthermore, even though I might have felt this way during the show, the ending was still good enough to make you forget about all the dry parts and feel good about life, and happy for the characters.
I was the most impressed with the choreography. It was revealed to us at the end, during the thank you speeches, that the production only really started rehearsals in January. I just watched over two hours (they ran late) of cohesive dance choreography and blocking, and now knowing that all that was put together and memorized in less than three months, I can’t help but be impressed. The dances were the fun parts of the musicals, each song having its own choreography, and the ending number had the whole cast (they were a big cast) walking around the stage in a patterned formation.
I also really enjoyed the performances of the main girl that played a famous singer, the witch, and that of my friend Caroline! I found these three the most compelling to watch (and I mean this about Caroline honestly, and not just because she’s my friend). I found them to be the most charismatic and the least shy on the stage. They were comfortable in their roles, their voices projected, and they delivered their comedic lines with the right rhythm. Whenever they were on the stage, it was a pleasure to watch them and be drawn in to how their characters were feeling and what they were saying.
One last thing I want to mention is the lights. They actually had some interesting lighting. I figured since it was a show done by a club that wasn’t at all related to the theatre department, they would have very simple lights and lighting cues. Instead, there were some gels being used to add colour to the dance numbers and highlight some emotions, spotlights at certain points in time, and some dramatic lighting for the sadder parts of the story. I was surprised and pleased to find out it was my friend Franco doing the lights for (and actually calling) the show.
Anyways, it was definitely an amateur show, but it was also definitely a lot of fun to go out and support my friend and the cause her club cares about. It was also really nice to watch them all come together on stage at the end and radiate that happy community feeling you get when you create something you’re proud of alongside people you love and you’re finally able to show it to other people.
It was a nice reminder to me about why I really love live events: it’s exhilarating to create, witness, and/or perform beside people you respect, to have an audience recognize your hard work, and to be able to look your audience in their eye and have them react. It’s that community feeling, and that adrenaline, and the love that swells when you do something you love.
A Day in the Life was an enjoyable experience and a great way to spend a Sunday evening.
Note: This is a backdated entry.
Before the show.
I chose to watch this show at the beginning of the term, when I found out we needed to watch a dance show. I checked out all the dance shows happening at the NAC, watched their trailers, and decided on this one because I found the staging interesting as a concept.
I haven’t really watched too many dance shows before. I went to go see Betroffenheit when they came before and I remember being more interested about the tech than I was watching their movements. It was probably because I didn’t really understand how to interpret the dancing, so while I found the first part with the cool staging and costumes engaging, the second part where it was just them dancing in plain costumes on a plain stage had me nodding off slightly.
This time, I’ll be careful to watch out for how the movements of the dancers might be communicating something that can’t be portrayed with words, and to follow the way the dancers interact with each other. I also don’t really know anything about dancing, movement, or physics, but I assume the dancers will have to move differently to accommodate the moving floor, and that intrigues me (hence why I chose this show to watch).
I’m going to see this show with my friend and she went to a performing arts high school and has friends who are dancers, so hopefully she’ll be able to give me some insight about the dancing.
Honestly, I’m not really sure what else to write about it because I’m going into it with a completely blank frame of mind. I’m just trusting that the NAC picked out a good dance show, and that a moving floor will be a fun time for the dancers, and that’s about all I have in terms of expectations. I don’t really watch dance shows so I don’t know how to comment on that, and for everything else, I’m assuming that it will be much the same as watching a play at the NAC in terms of routine—waiting in the lobby, getting your ticket scanned, filing in and sitting, waiting for the lights to dim. For the other stuff, I just want to be completely surprised, as that’s how I like to watch most of my shows,
I guess all I’m hoping for is that I don’t nod off, because I hate being that person. I feel rude trying not to fall asleep when so many people worked hard to produce what I paid to watch, in front of me. I have faith that the moving floor will be intriguing enough to keep me awake, though.
After the show.
This was a great show. Great. Absolutely phenomenal, honestly.
I think it helped a lot that I had absolutely no idea what to expect and that I only really had stereotypical thoughts about what a dance show could be, because this was nothing like how I would imagine a stereotypical dance show to be, and it has opened my mind up to the possibilities. Just like what Fringe theatre did for me the first time I went to go see it, seeing He Who Falls has made me realize that there are all sorts of ways to communicate with body language and movement alone without it being miming, and that you could probably lump a whole bunch of things under the category of “dance show”.
Anyways, there are two things I enjoy ruminating on when I think about this show: the stage mechanics, and the athleticism of the dancers.
The stage was a large floor that moved, and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that someone thought about this and made it happen. They made it spin, they made it swing, they made it hang both horizontally, vertically, and in lopsided fashions, and they attached bars to the bottom so that the dancers could hang from the floor themselves.
There are so many possibilities when you can control the floor, and I found that this show really made use of it all. By controlling the floor, you could control and manipulate the movements of the dancers and where they went, and He Who Falls really showed us how the space (and the space within the space) dictates where and how a person might move.
Some examples: when the floor is spinning, the dancers went along with the movement, went against it, but always had to find ways to keep balanced, lest they get unceremoniously tossed off the floor by the momentum. When the floor hung vertically and became a wall, the one man on top of it walked the very thin edge of it way up high, and the others, on the floor of the stage now, sat and leaned against it. When the floor was swinging left and right, the dancers were running and pushing the floor to give it more momentum, ducking under it and hugging the ground so it could swing on top of them, holding onto the edge and swinging along with the floor until their feet were off the ground, or jumping on top of it themselves.
That brings me to the people doing the moving: the dancers. I must say, for a dance show, there wasn’t a lot of literal dancing, to a beat and a melody (although there was that too). Most of it was dancing around the wooden floor in a more figurative sense, in that they were just trying their best to interact with it without actually getting hit. It makes me wonder about what dancing really means, though. They were more or less choreographed to move in ways that interacted with this wooden floor, so is that not dancing too? Even though there wasn’t any music playing for a lot of it? It makes me wonder.
But yes, as I was saying: the athleticism of these dancers was intense and impressive. The core strength and cardio it must take to do this show is unbelievable. Some of the notable moments were: when the six of them were partnered up and the girls were being held in the air by the guys in a frozen pose while the floor spun around; when one of the girls runs around and around the spinning floor, jumping over the prone bodies of her colleagues as they lie there on the ground; when the one man stays on the floor as the ropes bring it up until it’s hanging vertically and he’s on the top; when the same man hangs from the bars hidden under the floor and hangs too high off the ground for it to be safe if he falls; and anything that they did when the floor was swinging at them. Watching them, I could see how fit they were to be able to keep up. It was like watching a sport—and I guess it was, because dancing is definitely as much sport as it is art. They also sang too! Later on in the show as well, after all that running. The wonders never ceased during the runtime of this show.
It was also fun being an audience member because I think a lot of the people watching this were in the same boat I was in that they didn’t know what they were expecting, and so they became enraptured by the movements of these dancers and what they (and the floor) might do next. People clapped when they did impressive things (there was clapping for when they all posed on the spinning platform), they gasped when the floor looked like it might hit someone, and the tension in the air was palpable as the one guy hung from the platform, the audience so silent you could probably hear a pin drop on the stage. Watching him hang there, thirty feet above the hard ground, you wonder start to wonder if he is the He in He Who Falls. When he doesn’t drop, but instead climbs his way back onto the platform, you could feel the tension in the air change to that of relief as the audience collectively breathes out in silent relief.
The lighting was also really cool. It started with a harsh light from over top, the dancers casting long shadows as they tried to walk up the platform as it slanted and made it look like they were climbing a really dusty hill in the middle of the desert. There were also self-reflective parts of the show, where the audience was made aware of the mechanics that went into the show and the floor by showing us these maintenance guys that fix and adjust the mechanism that makes the floor spin. During these parts, the lighting would be more white and fluorescent, the whole stage lit instead of just the wooden floor the dancers interact with, and you’re reminded that you’re an observer, and these dancers are perhaps experiments you’re watching.
That feeling of watching an experiment is exacerbated by the fact that there is a man at a control board behind the platform who controls how the floor moves. One thing that I found really interesting was that he walked around the platform to unhook it from the ropes used to bring it down from above, and he had a pronounced limp. It was a direct contrast to the easy, athletic way that the dancers move and really brought attention to the fluidity of the dancers’ movements by showing us this guy who limped around. It was a good choice.
Aside from everything I just talked about, there was a lot of symbolism in the show as well. Because there’s only body movement in the show, and the only words were sung in a language I didn’t understand or recognize, there was a lot open to interpretation. I was trying to figure out what everything might mean, and ended up not really settling on any one meaning, but I think that’s kind of beautiful—that dance can be so open for interpretation, especially in a blank context like this, where there isn’t anything but a moving floor, six dancers, and sparse music. The most present noise in the whole show, actually, was the sound of the floor itself—the creaking as it spun and swung, the thuds of the dancers walking and running on top of it.
I would definitely watch it again, and recommend it to all my friends and their whole families, because it was interesting and thought provoking, and a wonderful exercise in thinking about movement when the floor itself moves.
I only wish that next time I sit a little closer, because I would have loved to see the expressions on the dancers’ faces as they worked as hard as they did.
Before the show,
These tickets are miracle tickets.
My brother really wanted to go see Les Mis, but I messed up and didn't buy early enough, so they were all sold out at the beginning of January. I went to the NAC on Thursday to see if I could somehow get my hands on tickets for the both of us by way of cancellation or something, and magically, unbelievably, wondrously, there they were: two tickets to the Saturday matinee of Les Mis. I still can't believe it! And I think they're actually on the floor in the back, which may make this the closest I've ever sat to the stage for a show this big. Miracle tickets!!! I was literally jumping around and I couldn't stop smiling about my luck for the next hour.
I saw Les Mis as part of a school trip when it toured in Toronto, back in 2013, and I remember being so impressed with the set design. The two biggest things I remember being impressed with were the barricade and the "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" scene. The barricade was impressive because it was so huge and detailed, with its carefully stacked furniture, and yet it was there in one scene and gone the next! The "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" scene was probably impressive to me because I was comparing it to the movie version, and it's so much more powerful to watch Marius sing all alone on a dark stage as the Amis de l'ABC walk in with a candle and the leave him than it is to watch Eddie Redmayne sit in a pub with literal empty chairs and empty tables. The scene was that much more symbolic live and it left an impression, so whenever I think about my experience with Les Mis live, I think of that. That, and the fact that I didn't buy a souvenir shirt, so rest assured I'm rectifying that mistake.
I'm looking forward to seeing this show again because I think I'll be able to appreciate it so much more of it now. I wasn't that into theatre and Broadway back in 2013, but now I love it a lot, and I know I'll be able to appreciate the smaller details because of the countless hours I've spent watching Broadway behind-the-scenes videos, and because of the Intro to Backstage Theatre course that I took last semester. I'm also looking forward to it because I get to watch it with my brother, who is seeing it live for the first time, and I know he'll already be raving about it during intermission. The only thing better than experiencing something great for the first time is seeing people you love experience the same great thing for their first time and being there for the excitement you know will come.
The last thing I'm looking forward to is that I get to renew my own experience with watching this show live. The first time I watched it, it was with a bunch of other high schoolers around me, and I was unfortunate enough to end up sitting a person away from someone who loved the Les Mis soundtrack and decided it was okay to just sing along to all of it while the show was going on. Not cool. I know for a fact my brother will not sing along and we're in aisle seats, so here's hoping I don't have to listen to someone else join in while Enjolras and Marius are singing about the blood of angry men.
The word "stoked" does not even begin to describe how I feel about going to see this show, but it will have to do—I am STOKED to be seeing this show again!!!
After the show.
I'm not quite sure where to start with Les Misérables because I could probably talk for hours about it. I guess the most immediate thing I can think of is that the first part of the show is such a whirlwind! There isn't much room for breathing space. Yes, every song is spectacular, but there is no downtime before intermission—you're in jail with Valjean, then you're in a church with a bishop, then you're in the factory with Fantine, then you're in a hospital as Valjean and Javert sing-fight, then you're in the Thénardiers' hotel, then it's like ten years later and you're in the streets with some revolutionary young men, then you're singing in some different streets about love, then suddenly you're ready to build a barricade and oh would you look at that it's intermission. It's actually quite incredible that a cast this large can keep up with the pace, and that the guy who plays Valjean doesn't get tired every night (especially on two-show days!).
Speaking of Jean Valjean, I found he was very well-cast. The actors who played Valjean, Cosette, and Marius did an amazing job. Their vocals were boundless, and I was especially impressed with Marius' and Cosette's performances—probably because in the past, I paid more attention to the roles of Enjolras and Éponine, and only ever noticed the performances of the former two if I found them somewhat lacking. I enjoyed how warm both of their performances came off, and how innocent and in-love they were in the midst of all the revolutionary action. I tend to find Marius and Cosette a little bit tedious because they become so wholly infatuated with each other so fast it seems stupid and cheesy, but in this production, it just felt like getting caught up in young love and it was a pleasure to watch.
With Valjean—with any Valjean, really—I was impressed with the strength of his vocals. I was also sitting close enough (I have never been that close to a touring Broadway show in my life) to see that he was indeed quite young, but it just made me pay attention to the costumes more. You can't tell as much from afar, but up close I could see that he and Javert started wearing grey wigs as time went on in the story. It's something that wouldn't really occur to me to do, but it's a nice touch.
A short note about costumes: I only noticed because we'd looked at the Les Mis costumes in class at one point, but Fantine wasn't wearing pink. She looked just like the rest of the workers, although her hair stood out and maybe her shirt was a slightly brighter blue compared to the rest of the women (I didn't pay enough attention to be absolutely sure). I always wonder about how much is changed when reviving a play or bringing it on tour, but I guess if they do, costume designs can be subject to change as well. I did find that some of the costumes looked a little too modern. Some of the Amis looked like they were wearing jeans.
The use of projections was really great! They're mostly subtle things you don't notice as anything more than background, but they add so much to the scene in terms of setting a location and making it seem more realistic. Especially when Valjean is bringing Marius through the sewers. He walks on the spot but the projections move and it's almost like a movie. Although the projections play a literal background role in the play, it becomes a main character in the sewers. In this way, Les Mis was a quite good first introduction to the use of video and projections in theatre for me, back when I first watched it.
Aside from the projections, something to note is the lights! There's a lot of backlighting, incredibly bright beams of light, and off-stage bright sources of light to recreate daylight or create a feeling of intense drama (especially with all the backlighting at the barricade). Les Mis is full of drama and flair from the lyrics and the music to the acting, but I find the most evidence of its drama in the lighting. Even the scene changes are full of grandeur. Some notable dramatic scene changes: the set pieces flying apart during Javert's suicide, the barricade splitting right in half to reveal the next part, the really quick set change to a courtroom so Valjean can confess he is the real 24601, and the way Enjolras marches this way and that on the stage with a flag and a whole bunch of people following him as he sings "Do you hear the people sing?". A production's ability to choreograph that many people in a cohesive manner on a stage will never cease to amaze me.
Watching it, I started contemplating what it must be like to take up the mantle of putting on Les Mis while still being creative and making it your own. It's the 20th anniversary of the show and it's likely that many, many people who come to see this company's touring show will know every song, have their favourite characters, and have previous experiences with seeing the show (and even watching the movie). The pressure must be unbelievable, but I guess the company's love for the show must make it as wonderful as it is.
It also made me think about what it really means to put on a spectacle. What makes something a grand spectacle? Is it the performances, or the sheer scale of everything involved, or the fact that thousands of people want to go see it? With Les Mis as an example, but also with the other shows I've gone to see in my lifetime, I want to say that what makes something a spectacle is the love and work that goes into the event, no matter the performance, scale, or size of the audience. There would still need to be some sort of audience, however, because I don't think it's a spectacle if no one is there to witness it.
By the way, the "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" scene exceeded expectations. The candles were there, and the Amis, and of course Marius himself on a dark stage, but the part where they all raise the candles like they're glasses before blowing the candles out escaped my memory from when I watched it last, and thinking about it now still makes me feel giddy and sends shivers down my spine. There is nothing better to me than when a story successfully echoes earlier symbolism in a poignant and effective manner, and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is like the epitome of that happening. It just heightens emotions to be reminded of something from earlier in the story, and to see them raise the candles symbolizing their lives the same way they raised their drinks at the barricade hurts. It hurts to be reminded of their brotherhood in the face of the fact that the only brother left alive is Marius. It's still my favourite scene.
Les Mis is such a great production, and never fails to leave me with a feeling of hope despite all the death, heartache, and misery the characters go through. Listening to the soundtrack makes me feel uppity and ready to revolt, to work towards a brighter future, and I think we all need a little bit of that determination in us.
Before the show.
I've decided to go watch How to Disappear Completely, and I'm looking forward to it.
I was originally planning on just watching one undercurrents show and the choice was between Forstner & Fillister and How to Disappear Completely. I decided on Forstner & Fillister because, as I mentioned in my previous entry, I was looking for something light-hearted. When I was there, however, one of the girls sitting in front of me made conversation with me thinking she knew me from somewhere (she did not), and she ended up telling me she had watched How to Disappear Completely just before Forstner & Fillister and she liked it a lot. It made me want to maybe check it out after all, and I'm dragging my brother with me to go watch it, as he is currently visiting me here in Ottawa.
The reason I was originally interested in watching it was because, in the description, they say that Itai Erdal is an award-winning lighting designer, and I wanted to see how he would use his skills in a small venue to tell such a personal, intimate story. Now that I've decided to go watch it, this is what I'm most looking forward to, because I've come to love and appreciate lighting design, and it's always amazing to me how subtle and effective lighting is when it comes to telling a story. Lights push the atmosphere of what you're watching just that much more, and they're able to create a feeling that the audience instinctively understands, even if they can't explain it.
I think that's what's so interesting about being in a society so saturated with film and media: there's a visual language that comes through to all consumers that we don't necessarily think about, but we feel it. Warm lighting makes us feel comfortable and safe, cold lighting is scarier or disturbing, flashing lights are (usually) alarming... We don't always consciously think about it, but we've seen consumed enough media to understand the feelings. I find that lighting design plays with this so effectively, and I can't wait to see what an award-winning lighting designer can do.
Furthermore, I'm interested in the way he will integrate video projection into his storytelling, because from what I understand from the description, it seems like he will be using video in his piece as well.
The story looks like it's going to be an emotional ride and I get this feeling that, after I watch this, I'll want to talk about the story and my emotions a lot more. For now though, if I'm being honest, I'm definitely mostly interested for the technical aspects of the show.
After the show.
This show is an amazing example of intimate theatre. I loved so many things about it, and it was fun to experience it with my brother because he's never been to a theatre festival before or seen a show even remotely like this—he's used to seeing the big touring Broadway shows, so it was fun to bring him along and open his show-going world a little bit!
There are so many things I could say about this show that I loved, but I'm going to start with the lighting because that was what I was most excited about. I was right to be excited for his award-winning lighting skills, and I was not disappointed in the slightest! The way he explained what each light he had on stage could do and what he used them for made me feel like I was watching a behind-the-scenes video on stage tech. The whole show actually made me feel like I was getting a look behind the scenes, because as he says at the start, Itai isn't an actor, so the whole thing just felt like a fun conversation he was having with us (and I guess, in a sense, it really was).
I love that he shows us the way a PAR can light gets warmer as it dims and talks about how near the end, every percent counts, not only demonstrating how interesting this light is but implying that metaphor between his mother's life and the dimming light. I also enjoyed when he makes a square of light and walks into it, talking about how he can do that to emulate a skylight, to just make the scene look cooler, or to denote when something important is going to be said right before he starts saying something important. My last favourite lighting thing he explains to us is when he talks about how he'd light each person he's mentioned in his story, especially when he talks about the way he'd light Pedro, his mother's second husband—how he'd start with a harsh, scary light from the front to make him look imposing (a guy in front of me actually recoiled slightly when the light went on to create all those contrasting shadows on Itai's face and I thought that was funny), but then he would slowly shine a warmer light over Pedros' whole body so that, "by the end, you like him", as Itai explains. Other notable fun lighting things were: how he pointed out that shinbusters highlight the whole body to your audience; the rave lighting he creates and how he danced in front of the projection screen as a dark silhouette; how he starts the show in the complete dark, depriving you of one of your senses as he talks about how actors should be lit, but he isn't an actor; and how he controls a lot of the lighting cues himself with his cell phone, adding to the intimate feeling because you get the impression that he's doing everything himself (until the rave part of the show, when he starts shouting about adding strobe lights and gobos).
Sorry, I went on a bit of a tangent about all the cool lighting things he did during his show, but it was so awesome to learn so much about lighting design in such a short time, and alongside such a personal story. He says during the show that lighting is the most ephemeral part of a show because people will remember lines and performances and sets, but they won't really remember the lights. In his show, he makes the lights front-and-centre and one of the main aspects of the show, complementing the story by creating the feeling before showing us clips of his documentary.
The more I think about, the more I realize how creative this piece was. On paper, you would think that showing parts of a documentary, explaining stage lighting, and telling personal stories wouldn't fit together to make a show, and yet Itai Erdal has tied them altogether and made them work together in one show. In 887, everything Lepage talked about and showcased were related to his story, but sometimes Itai would go off on a tangent or just talk about his life. I guess it ties in better because Lepage's story was about a specific event and poem that affected him, but Itai's story was about his mother, and mothers affect peoples' whole lives.
Anyways, I'm inclined to disagree with Itai's statement because, as I talked about pre-show, lights create feelings and if there's one thing I will always take away from a show, it's how that show made me feel.
The story itself was very good. I didn't get as emotional as I expected I would, but that's because he added quite a few lighthearted parts to his story, where he told jokes for levity. He is a captivating storyteller, his voice full of emotion and enthusiasm, his gestures wide, his facial expressions earnest and comical. There's a game show-esque part of the show where he shows you he knows all the capitals of the world and I found that a bit cheesy and out of the blue, but it might have worked better with a more participatory audience (ours only had two or three people shouting out countries).
I thought it was a good touch to play with the size of the screen, so that it's not always the same frame of projection every single time we watch a clip from his documentary. The way he translates by talking over the clips was a good choice to me because, in this way, he's still a part of the show and it's less like we're watching a movie during those parts. I just wish the volume of the documentary clips was lower as I found that they occasionally conflicted with his voice a little too much.
Walking into the space, I was also surprised to see a curtain drawn through the stage. I had been in the same space the day before for Forstner & Fillister but the curtain made the space much shallower and it changed the feel of the venue completely, again adding to the intimacy of the story Itai was about to share with us. It was also much darker, I assume to further cement his lighting skills–just Itai, his lights, and a projection screen in the dark. It made it difficult to take a selfie, but that's definitely a tangential note.
In one of the documentary clips, his sister says that you can never tell a whole story, even if you try. That stayed with me because I find it so relevant to what I'm interested in and to what I usually try to do: tell stories, whether it's through film, photography, or other forms of art. Itai only highlights this when, at the end, he mentions that he had a wife even though throughout the whole show, he's been talking as if he's never settled down.
How to Disappear Completely really make you think about life, family, and how you can never really know where your own life will take you. His mother and his whole family never expected she would get cancer and die so early, and I'm sure Itai never would have thought his documentary footage would end up being in a play that he would take to Ottawa to show at undercurrents. It's a personal, intimate, self-reflective show that educates you about stage lighting while it tells a thought-provoking story, and I can't believe I took so much away from 70 minutes of theatre.
Before the show.
I just bought my tickets to the Forstner & Fillister show happening tonight at 9PM, and I'm pretty excited to go! I knew I wanted to go to at least one undercurrents show because I've been to the Fringe festival before and I enjoy the kind of atmosphere smaller shows bring. I find that shows that happen in smaller settings are often much more intimate because of the smaller venue, so it's easier to make eye contact with the actors, and there isn't any huge stage or proscenium arch creating a barrier between what is clearly stage and what is clearly audience. Some of these shows occasionally interact with its audiences as well, with actors speaking directly to an audience member, or handing out little things to the audience (I went to go see Countries Shaped Like Stars for the 20th anniversary of Fringe and they handed out little moustache cookies to everyone! They were yummy and the show was amazing).
What I'm most excited about is this table-building thing they're going to do. I read the description for each show happening at undercurrents and decided on Forstner & Fillister because it seemed light-hearted and I wanted a break from the busy mid-term schedule I've been keeping this week. I love shows that provoke thought and emotion and drama, but sometimes you also just need a break and to laugh until your stomach hurts, and that's what I'm hoping to get out of this show. When we were talking about it in class, the girl who had already seen it made it sound like that's exactly what I'm going to get, and then some, so I hope it's true. I'm a little bit disappointed that she mentioned the way the actors interact with the audience members right off the bat, giving lanyards and pretending you're all at some sort of table-building conference, because now I don't get the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by this interaction when I get there. After getting over that tiny disappointment, however, my excitement only grew because it's really fun to go to shows where the characters interact with you pre-show. It only adds to the intimate feeling I was talking about with smaller venues—really feeling like you're a part of the story you're about to go see, beginning to end.
I haven't really decided where I'm going to sit yet. I'm not always one to be put on the spot, and I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be being singled out, if it is one of those shows where they choose to interact with the audience members personally—sitting at the front will make it easier for them to see me and potentially choose me. On the other hand, I love sitting at the front at Fringe shows because I get to see every little thing that happens up close, and there aren't any heads in the way reminding me that I'm part of an audience watching a show unfolding, instead of someone being completely immersed in a story. I'll probably see how I feel once I get there.
Anyways, I'm pretty excited! Can't wait to watch these two guys build a table.
After the show.
This show gave me all the laughs I expected going into it, and its story ended up being quite relevant to my life right now, as my brother is coming to visit me in Ottawa tomorrow and we've had plenty of arguments like the one Forstner and Fillister did. I expected I would enjoy the humour of the show, but I didn't expect to get so drawn into the relationship between these two brothers, and I didn't expect to relate so much to Fillister, the younger brother who tries to do everything in a newer, modern way—a contrast to his older brother, who wants to do everything the old-fashioned way, exactly the way their father taught them. It probably just struck a chord with me because my brother and I are the same way—he sticks rigidly to what my parents taught us, and I always try to do whatever it is completely differently.
I'm sure their relationship was relatable to many audience members with siblings or very close friends, especially in the way the brothers argue. They fought and pressed each others' buttons right where it hurts the most, and instead of directly apologizing, they showed each other their forgiveness by working together to finish the table Forstner had stubbornly started to build halfway through their "presentation". I was impressed with the way they played off of each other, both in the lighthearted parts and in their arguments, and how the two of them were able to create such a tense atmosphere in the silence following how they shouted at each other. The theme of familial relationships is well-portrayed in the way they keep bringing up their father's motto of "wood first", and how they bring it up at the end, after they build their table and forgive each other, clinking their beers and saying "wood first" in a way that implies "family first".
I actually enjoyed the writing of the play as a whole—the jokes were funny without trying too hard, they poked fun at professional conferences with just the right amount of cheesy, they talked to the audience enough times to remind us that we were all part of this conference they were holding, and as I mentioned, their conflict and resolution were very realistic to me. The one thing I keep thinking about is the story Fillister told us about his father golfing and shitting (these were Fillister's words!) his pants. I know it's supposed to be about how their father was this overly proud, very masculine guy, and that this pants-shitting incident really humiliated him in front of everyone, cutting down his pride in front of his sons, but I found it to be just a bit too absurd for the message to properly hit home. Either that, or maybe they should have brought up more examples of how toxic their father's pride was to their childhood to drive the point home that no one should ever be that proud.
Other fun things about the show that I loved:
- Forstner talks about how magical it is to see the sawdust floating in the air, reflecting the sunlight coming in through the windows at the shop, and as they woodwork later on, the sawdust does float up in the air and reflect off the lights on the grid and it is quite magical;
- The lanyards and the audience interaction were both great! You really felt like you were part of the show because of how they treated everyone as part of the conference. At the beginning, they went and talked to you and gave out business cards, and Fillister was kind enough to take a selfie with me;
- There is a part in the show where they do math to figure out measurements for their table, and there was a guy in the audience who had extreme mental math skills and called out the answers, so the brothers started referring to him to answer their questions! They have enough audience participation to make each show slightly unique, and that makes each one feel special.
It was also fun to walk into the Arts Court and see all the fancy flashing lights and the disco ball—it really adds to the party feel of the undercurrents festival as a whole!
Overall, it was a great experience, and yet another great example of why I love shows that happen in smaller venues, and why I love going to shows that happen at festivals like this.
(In case you were wondering, I decided to sit in the second row: close enough to the front to see every detail, but not in a way that makes it easy for me to be chosen to stand up and do something. I think this was a good call, because they did indeed choose someone to get up and stand on stage. Audience participation can add a lot to a show, but I'm not a great on-the-spot thinker so I'd rather just watch other audience members be put on the spot instead!)
Before the show.
Live music events are always interesting to me because the main point of the event is to listen to the music, but witnessing music being made in person always makes it so much more. I love going to orchestral events and watching the musicians get lost in the music as they play their instruments, and the way you get lost with them through the highs and lows of the songs.
That being said, the "orchestral events" that I've attended have always been very local—high school music class performances, friends' piano recitals, the odd small orchestra playing on a stage in a park that I just happened upon on a walk—and they stress the community aspect of the performances. I'm assuming it's going to be quite different going to the National Arts Centre to watch someone play music live in a venue where I can't just get out of my seat and walk closer to the front to see better, where there won't be teenagers on the sides taking photos of their friends on stage, or kids at the back buying hot chocolate with the change from their parents' pockets.
I'm also wondering about whether or not there will be extra things, such as different kinds of lighting to accompany the music, or if it's just going to be Alice Sara Ott walking up on stage, sitting down at her piano, and then getting up and bowing when she's done. Will there be audience participation? How formal will the atmosphere feel at this piano event in a theatre? I've been to a few concerts, which are live music events as well, but I'm aware that the atmosphere is completely different seeing as how the audience at concerts are encouraged to jump around, participate in the music (by singing and dancing along), and occasionally even direct interaction with the artist on stage. How will it be like to watch a piano recital for an hour or two with people I don't know, in a place as formal as the NAC?
I also imagine where I'm sitting will affect the experience I'm going to have. I don't quite remember where my seat is because I bought my ticket so long ago (I hope I'm pleasantly surprised at how close I end up being!) but being close to the stage would probably be a much better experience. Being able to see Alice's facial expressions and emotion while she plays the music would, in my opinion, add more depth to the experience, instead of seeing her from a distance. Then again, maybe sitting farther away would really allow me to focus solely on the beauty of the music and the way it reverberates around the venue.
As you can tell, I mostly have a lot of questions about how this event will occur, but I'm looking forward to it!
After the show.
When I walked into the Southam Hall at the NAC to watch Alice Sara Ott play Grieg, I saw the orchestra practicing on stage and my first immediate thought was, "Oh, that makes sense—she plays with an orchestra, not by herself." It probably didn't occur to me earlier because, as I've just realized, I haven't actually seen an orchestra and a piano play together. If I have, the piano wasn't the highlight of the music, and so I never paid it much attention and can't recall it now.
Comparing the reality of my experience to the expectations and questions I had, I would say the reality hit right in the middle of the local orchestral events I've been to in the past and what I was assuming would occur at Southam Hall. The orchestra tuned the same way they do at all the local orchestral events I've attended, but as they tuned to the same note, the house lights dimmed in what I found was a subtly theatrical way, like when the lights dim for the movie at cinemas. The lights, though dimmed, were still bright enough to read my program, and that was also in between my past experiences of the lights at local events remaining on, and my assumption that the lights would darken completely to emphasize the stage in the same way they would for a theatrical event. There was (thankfully) no chattering among the audience like there would be at local events, but I felt more at-ease than I thought I would in the formal setting of the NAC—my seat neighbour had Grieg's sheet music in a book and he was following along while the orchestra played, and there were many, many people that came in late after the short number the orchestra did at the beginning.
I was also very confused, and I could tell that there were some things that the regular orchestra-goers in the audience knew that I did not. There was no clapping when there were pauses and the orchestra was done, and I now realize that was because the number was finished but there was still more to the entire piece, and we only clap after the entire piece is over. I couldn't tell when the pieces were actually over, however, so I just waited until everyone else clapped. Before intermission, the audience gave a standing ovation, and I didn't understand why when there was still another piece after the intermission. I thought perhaps I'd somehow nodded off for fifty minutes and missed the entire show. After intermission, I processed that the event is titled "Alice Sara Ott Plays Grieg" and the second piece was not by Grieg, so.. Oh, she's only playing the one piece.
That was my personal experience as a first-time NAC orchestra attendee, but the event itself was enjoyable! Alice Sara Ott was wearing a yellow flowing dress, standing out from the all-black attire of the NAC orchestra and emphasizing that she is the main character of the show.
In my pre-show writing, I was discussing how my seat would change my experience and that being closer would probably be a better experience, but sitting farther back didn't detract from my experience at all. In fact, from where I was sitting, I was able to watch all the violinists' bows move in near-unison as they played, and the way the orchestra swayed with their music as a unit, like they were one big living organism.
Furthermore, even though I wasn't able to see their facial expressions, I could still see the emotion in the musicians' bodies because they moved with their whole bodies as they played. The conductor was almost dancing in the way he went back and forth with his arms, and a woman at the front—I think she was First Violin—felt the music so much, she was almost standing up from her seat as she played. Alice Sara Ott herself played so emotionally, and seemed to feel the music so deeply, it looked like she was just a vessel, and the piano was pushing all this music out through her. During the powerful parts of the song, she would hit the keys with heavy hands, and when they were over, she would flop back in her chair as if she was relieved the heavy part was over and the piano was done pushing such strong music through her. During the soft parts, she would tap the keys with a featherlight touch, like anything more would upset the piano. It was moving to watch her play so emotionally, and I couldn't even see her face.
I opened my pre-show entry by talking about how watching orchestral events in person adds so much more to the music because you can see the musicians get lost in what they're creating, but after watching this performance, I'm realizing that what I enjoy isn't just watching the musicians individually get absorbed in what they're playing, but the way they come together to form a community on stage. It's the relationships between all the people in the orchestra and how the countless hours of practicing together shows not just in their performance but in their interactions. It's how they all come together for the same love of playing their instrument(s) to serve the larger, greater purpose of performing music that moves them.
Hello! My name is Reine Tejares, and this is my blog for THE 2100: The Theatrical Event at the University of Ottawa.