I haven’t been posting blogs lately as I have not been inspired to write about anything. Everything that has been going on around me has only made me grumpy and want to complain. Everything that I was writing about was becoming hard to live with so I just decided to stop. I decided to live inside of that platitude that if I couldn’t say anything nice I wouldn’t say anything at all.
I figured I just needed exposure to some talent, so I decided to go out and see stuff. However, I haven’t been having a lot of luck watching shows lately. I have been disappointed almost all of the time. Two nights ago I went to a show and was left so drained for the experience, I was ready to leave town. I was looking at my watch, making mental notes about how bad the script was and yawning at the plethora of tired old gimmicks being employed to make the audience feel as though the had not wasted their money. I left the theatre depressed and started to believe that innovation was truly dead, at least here in this town. After being here for almost a year I had yet to see anything that filled me with the euphoria I have only known when something truly original and inspiring comes my way. It seemed as though Vancouver was devoid of any real talent.
As a performer and artist I am always looking out for that special something, a show like no other that ignites the imagination and keeps you transfixed for how ever long it is. I give really bad audience. I have seen too much.
Last night I went to the In Jest Clown Festival at Russian Hall in Vancouver expecting more of the same. The evening started with a red nose clown doing some pretty rudimentary stuff that the kids who were in attendance seemed to be indifferent about. Some of what he was doing in terms of technique I had seen the previous night but in a slightly different form. It was unclear if what he was doing was for adults or kids. After about 10 minutes, I started looking at my watch and trying to figure out how to gracefully exit the premises. I simply couldn’t do this to myself two nights in a row.
However, the clown then did something that took me by surprise. During the course of his camping excursion show, he had befriended a puppet squirrel. The kids who were at the show came to like the squirrel and found his antics amusing. My heart had been won and I was actually enjoying myself. Then, owing to a complication in his script, the clown got hungry and without much warning, broke the neck of the puppet squirrel, skinned it, cooked it and ate it, all in a cartoon fashion but graphically enough to make everyones heart stop.
I looked to the kids sitting beside me to see their jaws drop and their eyes bulge out of their head. Although the clown technique and the story were under developed, the artist had succeeded in grabbing my attention. His show ended and I decided to stay for the next show to see what else might happen here.
After a short break, The comedy duo James and Jamesy took the stage with their new show “High Tea”. From the moment the lights went up and the first character took the stage I felt a familiar electricity in the room and found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. It only took about 30 seconds to realise that I had a huge smile pasted on my face and felt I was about to witness something astounding.
The physicality and eccentricity of the short lean and lanky character Jamesy juxtaposed against his foil the practical, pragmatic and rather imposing James, while the former serves the later tea, was an absolute joy from start to finish. The attention to detail, the choreography, the unexpected twists and turns of the script, the audience participation and the over abundance of fabulous ideas left me with a serious lack of superlatives with which to describe this show. Conventional accolades simply will not do. All I can do here is to tell you to go and see them when they come to your town, if you are looking to be a part of something incredibly special and deliciously rare.
I left that show filled with a renewed lease on life, a jump in my step and an inspiration I had not know for quite some time. I owe a big thank you to the people who produced the inaugural “In Jest Festival of Clown and Play” for showing me some compelling stuff. You can find out more about the festival here: http://injestfestival.com. Creativity is not dead, it is alive and well and living in Vancouver.
If you are in Vancouver, you can see James and Jamesy at the Revolver Festival May 13 through 18 at The Cultch, 1895 Venables St, Vancouver. Check the website for show times: http://www.upintheairtheatre.com/2-tea-vancouver. If you are not in Vancouver, they will be touring across Canada, if you are not in Canada, call them, invite them over and pay them to do their show for you.