All cultures, it's safe to say, tell ghost stories. Whether Japanese yurei, Irish banshee, or German poltergeist, the restless dead are pitied and feared. Whether haunting locations or specific people, phantoms remind us that repressed history and long-past tragedy may still be echoing around our political, social, or psychic present. They also signify that human beings are fascinated by the things we find the most terrifying.
The grimacing beauty of a Kokoro Ghost. Photo: Chris Randle|
On top of the Sunrise Market in the midst of Chinatown, 12 Scottish ghosts stand, garbed in white linens and lace, adorned with red and black sashes. In the center stands the musical guard, frocked in kilts and armed with bagpipes and drums.
Kokoro's Ghosts follow the bagpipers to the top of Sunrise Market, photo: Chris Randle
Four young dancers pose with the serious beauty of those who respect the eye of the camera, or in this case the audience. Their costumes are fifties-style street clothes, the two women in dresses and two men in jazz-casual suits, yes, ready for attention, ready to perform. Beat. Still ready. So ready that the tall woman's broad smile (JoDee "Fiesty" Allen's irrepressible grin) begins to freeze.
Solid State polishes the floor between couples dances
I strongly believe that anyone should be able to tell not only their own stories but also those of people from other cultures, countries and backgrounds. That said, I have now seen two productions at two successive Magnetic North Festivals that have been spearheaded by large theatre companies in association with smaller Aboriginal organizations.
Any play in which the lead observes, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport” should tear away at a viewer’s comfortable and smug preconceptions. I admit it: I went to Vanier Park to ache and feel King Lear in my guts. But didn’t with This Bard on the Beach presentation.
Patti Allan wheels Christopher Gaze, followed by Anderson, Lyndall-Knight, Marr and Wheeler; photo David Blue
A play that is simply staged with few props, Sour Brides production of So Many Doors begins, well, at the beginning: a giant sepia mobile hangs above the stage while below it the four actors, each with only a chair, start their baby lives to its tinny wind up tune. As the movement work builds through each stage of development, one actor kneels in prayer; all look anxious.
In a Philadelphia apartment strewn with outdated furniture, clothes and debris live Treat (Andrew McNee) and Philip (Michael Rinaldi), brothers orphaned at a young age and left to fend for themselves. Now grown up, Treat, the older and more aggressive of the two, provides for himself and his agoraphobic brother with petty thievery, while the latter indulges in his penchant for tuna, mayonnaise, and Errol Flynn movies.
These Orphans are Michael Rinaldi, Andrew McNee, Michael Charrois; Photo: Damon Calderwood