Fabulous Fictions and Peculiar Practices




From David Ferry

The work we are starting on this multi disciplinary project will be unlike more traditional theatre work. The process, therefore, will be a little different. At times we may feel like Dorothy in her red shoes . . . "We're not in Kansas anymore!"

How God Talks in His Sleep image

An important thing for us to realize, as actors, is that the 'text' originates with the 'image', not the other way around. And the images of Tony Calzetta are distinctly whimsical, cartoonish, playful, wacky. Leon Rooke, our author, has reacted to those images in his own wacky, humorous, blasphemous way.

[See satirical image of religion (Slide 1) here.]

So as we approach the work as 'actors' (dancers, singers, musicians) our first task is figuring out how to look at the source material: how to get inside the images (and words) and to try and find an internal impulse from those images as well as an external expression arising from those impulses. I think this will lead to a lot of right brain work, which:

  • uses feeling
  • "big picture" oriented
  • imagination rules
  • symbols and images
  • present and future
  • philosophy & religion
  • can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
  • believes
  • appreciates
  • spatial perception
  • knows object function
  • fantasy based
  • presents possibilities
  • impetuous
  • risk taking

The workshop on Fabulous Fictions has a couple of long-term objectives as well as a short term one (which is a 10-minute example of the work we are starting out on as part of a Cabaret evening attached to the Pages Unbound Festival on May 9 on the stage of the Randolph Theatre.)

The initiative for the workshop actually comes from a publisher who is looking to push the boundaries of traditional publishing. How can we find alternative ways of promoting and exhibiting an art book? Well, one way is to turn the book into a art gallery event . . . a theatrical adventure that crosses disciplines and offers the traditional book purist with an alternative way of looking at the work. So eventually we hope to have a full production of Tony and Leon's fantastic pop out book/narrative (in a series of scenes) that can live in a gallery as performative and visual art.

How God Talks in His Sleep image

Our objective then with this workshop is to take three sections of the work and look at ways where a composer, an author, a painter, a visual artist who works in inflatables, and a theatre director can devise strategies to investigate the original impulses of a painter, look at the literary responses to those drawings, and make them, in real time with an audience, literally POP OUT like the paper creations in a children's book.

[See also image of Alice in Wonderland pop-up book here.]

This is where we come in. How do we use our skills to populate the imagistic world of Tony Calzetta's drawings into a 3D living book? We will be parcelling you (Randolph actors) all out to various artists.

Richard Whiteman, a fine jazz musician, will be taking some of you that play instruments and creating a free form non linear music expression as a kind of acid soundtrack for some scenes. He will work with all voices to possibly create a choral section that reflects the primary colours of the painter's world. (See: http://youtu.be/6SXDEIpwF-w)

How God Talks in His Sleep image

Leon Rooke, literally the voice of God (think George Carlin: http://youtu.be/gPOfurmrjxo) will be looking to partner with three muses to show us just how Cezanne got his inspiration.

Our mad inflatable scientist, Max Streicher, will be in Europe during the workshop, but he will be preparing an inflatable image from Tony's work that we will work with.

[See an image of Streicher's inflatables here.]

Tony Calzetta is busy sourcing LED lights and Tyvek suits for you to play with as you literally become colours in his palette.

I (David Ferry) will be working with you on movement and choral patterns that tell the story theatrically.

This probably makes as much sense to you now as a game of 52 pickup, but think of this project the way we all think as kids at playtime: as a big tickle trunk to pull stuff from and make believe . . . literally PLAYING. Have fun. Like Tony does.


Read on: Our Progress in Pictures »
Go back: The Workshop »

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.