dossier: Cathy Gordon for HAMMER / Summerworks

As the year chugs impressively forward, with no immediate end in its tunnel-esque sight, new relationships are building, strengthening and changing from what they once were. As one of the new Associate Directors of hub14, I’ve recently had the pleasure to spend time with the lovely Cathy Gordon, an artist who wears her heart on her sleeve and whose passion is easily admirable. You can see she’s always analyzing and, because of this, what she brings to a conversation, or piece of art, is truly unique. I had the pleasure to catch HAMMER earlier this year, when it had a showing in May at hub14, but somehow dropped the ball in getting a dossier built around it. 

This time around, however, not only have I appealed to Cathy for a dossier, I’m also going to be rather involved in the logistics of this incarnation as HAMMER is now being co-presented by Summerworks and hub14. And! As a bonus to this, because hub14 is going through a large change at the moment, with the old team of artistic directors moving out (Cathy being one of them) and us moving in, each of the five new ADs are going to be introducing HAMMER with a short, 10-minute piece of their own! Not only do you get to see this provocative piece of art from an integral member of hub14’s history, but you also get to see what the new guard is capable of! This is, if you can’t tell, really exciting to me (I haven’t even seen what my fellow cohort is capable of yet). 

Alright, straight to it.

dossier # 19:

Cathy Gordon

Who are we talking to?

Cathy Gordon

What drew you down this path? (to theatre, to wherever the hell you are in life)

Since I was a child I’ve been writing, directing and performing. I went to Canterbury School of the Arts for performance + then York University for Playwriting & Directing.

What is your earliest memory of realizing, yep, this is what I’m going to do with my life?

Playing with my dolls and realizing that I wanted to do many things with my life and as an actor, I could live all those lives within my one lifetime.

Why HAMMER?

In recent years, I’ve been doing a lot of different kind of performance (relational work, community work, installation work) and I wanted to get back “into the studio” – to create a piece with a more traditional actor / audience relationship. The quality of HAMMER is in line with some performances I had done years earlier as part of the annual Parkdale Project Read fundraiser. HAMMER in particular was inspired by reading the news one day in December 2012 and being struck by the level of violence against women that was making headlines across the globe. I was compelled to address this within my own family’s history of abuse.

What kind of atmosphere do you intend to set up, or can someone expect while attending HAMMER?

Well, people have said that it’s intense & compelling even if they are unsure of everything that is happening. On this version I’m working on clarifying certain moments while trying to avoid a whole lot of explaining. It’s true that I’m a pretty intense person but I’m also quite funny.

You’ve toured and performed in many festivals over the years. What is your favourite thing about bringing your work to a new audience?

Each audience has a collective boundary, I like to discover that boundary and really test it. I try to create a space that is charged with the energy of every single person in that room. However, I’m the one that is putting myself in a vulnerable position, and by trusting the audience to respect that, I hope to give people a real opportunity to invest in the experience without ever forcing anyone to do anything they don’t want to do.

What is your favourite memory from a past Summerworks experience? Or, what is your favourite memory from HAMMER’s development and production?

Chad Dembski has been my outside eye both in Montreal and this past May. He is the best. I’ve known & worked with Chad since the 1990’s and it was wonderful to reconnect with him (especially because I don’t see him as much since he moved to Montreal.)

Describe HAMMER in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.

Ok, I’ll take a line from video:

“Here is place where we pretend we are pretending but, really, we are telling the truth: our subjective truths”.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share? Photos, videos, links, posters, stories, wishes?

Here are some photos from rehearsal & the May production… I’m afraid I didn’t get any proper photographs, I just grabbed some images from the video.

And the schedule of opening acts for HAMMER are as follows:

Aug 8: Kate Nankervis

Aug 9: Coman Poon

Aug 14: Aria Evans (dance films)

Aug 15: Andrew Gaboury

Aug 16: Marie France Forcier

turning a new leaf.

Some of you may know this but, as of last Tuesday, June 18th, I can officially announce that I am part of the new leadership team that will be transitioning live performance arts incubator hub14 from its second cohort to its third!

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Along with new artistic directors Marie-France Forcier, Kate Nankervis and Coman Poon, Aria Evans and myself will be joining the team as associate directors (or artistic-directors-in-training)I’m excited to be part of this transition and to work alongside the current/exiting artistic director team of Cathy Gordon, Jeremy Mimnagh, Meagan O’Shea, and heidi strauss. Things have really picked up since being voted-in at the board meeting on the 18th and a lot of great things are underway. In fact, one of them was just released today!

hub14 is looking for applicants for the various residencies we offer. If this is your first time hearing about hub14, I’m posting our mission statement and descriptions for each residency offered below, taken directly from our site and from the call. If you’re a physical/movement-based performer this will definitely be of interest to you. Check it out!

hub14 is an artist-run live arts incubator and presenter. Our focus is interdisciplinary work as seen through the lens of independent contemporary performance. We contribute to the arts ecology through giving support to artists wanting to experiment and collaborate creatively with each other. We offer an evolving roster of programs including artistic residencies, dramaturgical services, workshops and presenting opportunities as well a variety of community-engaged initiatives.

hub14 encourages inventiveness and excellence by granting free and discounted rehearsal space so that artists may afford more time for process-based research and development.
Professional artists at all stages of their career who want to explore within or outside of their core discipline(s) and live art practitioners from a diversity of backgrounds and abilities are encouraged to apply.

launchpad residency
Intended to support previously unworkshopped new ideas or the development of commissioned or currently programmed work. launchpad residency offers a flexible plan that includes either free studio space (up to a maximum of 50 hours) and/or heavily subsidized studio time (up to 60 hours). A public/invited showing is required for commissioned and previously workshopped/produced pieces. New works have the option of a public/invited showing.

live in residency (outside of Toronto / Canadian / International)
Intended for artists living outside of Toronto. Artists are invited to live and create inside hub14 for up to a maximum two-week stay. A showing is required at the end of the Residency.
Simple live/work arrangements consist of studio, bed, 3-piece private bathroom, mini fridge, hotplate, basic flat wear and utensils.

community chest
Open proposal for special initiatives proposed by and/or supporting the community.
Proposals can range from performance-lectures, a curated series, artistic think tanks and professional development opportunities. We are open to other initiatives that fit strongly withhub14’s mandate.

Deadline: 5PM July 19th, 2013
Response: July 24th, 2013
Eligibility: all applicants must be a member of hub14 (membership is a yearly fee of $40 that allows you to rent the space and can be paid through our PayPal account)

If you are interested in applying, follow the link to the site and apply online!

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dossier: Brandon Crone for TURTLENECK and SAFEWORD

Today’s dossier is exciting to me because it is the first to profile a Toronto playwright. I’ve met Brandon at a few events and his charisma and general excitement for anything theatre is awfully infectious. I have no doubt you’ll be able to get a glimpse of this below.

That said, here’s dossier #4:

Brandon Crone

Who are we talking with?

The self-proclaimed enfant-terrible of Toronto independent theatre. The title is a little premature but here’s hoping it’ll stick. You’re speaking with Brandon Crone, Artistic Director of safeword.

Turtleneck is your first play. What drew you to playwriting?

The whole thing sort of happened unexpectedly. I never thought I would be a writer. When I was studying theatre in school, I was surrounded by playwrights who were constantly working on new material and I generally concluded that in order to be a playwright, it was required that you possess a natural skill with language and that was something I would never be able to attain to. I was always very good at structure but hopelessly inarticulate. It wasn’t until I started reading Harold Pinter for the first time that I suddenly realized that I could potentially use this impediment to my advantage when crafting a play. The way he uses language as a cover or a code to illuminate the true desires of his characters made me realize that most people aren’t actually that particularly lyrical or articulate in their daily interactions with other people. It’s what’s going on underneath those commonplace phrases or jumbled sentences that’s most exciting to me and more true to life in any case. I attended a bi-monthly, play-reading group that was created by two friends of mine, Andrew Young and Shayne Monaghan called Monday Night New Works, where people could bring in new work to share and discuss with fellow writers. After that, I told them I would write something and bring it in to be read at the next session. During that month and the half, I wrote Turtleneck start to finish and it hasn’t changed much since then.

What is you earliest memory of wanting, or needing to do theatre?

Since birth I guess. I’ve been doing it for long as I can remember. When I was growing up, my Mom ran her own daycare in our basement so I was always surrounded by other kids at a young age. She would read us stories, fairy tales, nursery rhymes and when we went on to the park, she recalls me directing all the other children in visionary re-enactments of the stories. There are also very embarrassing photos of me wearing a dress when I single-handedly directed and choreographed a production of The Nutcracker with my Grade Two class in the playground and presented it to the school’s faculty and students unannounced. It’s never been something I’ve had to think about because that need has always been inside me and I’ve always pursued it. I’ve been very fortunate to know from an early age what I wanted to do in life.

Turtleneck only has 30 seats per showing. Was this a conscious choice, or just a side effect of the venue?

A little of both. The initial idea was to do a small, intimate production but choosing to have specifically 30 seats was influenced by the size and capacity of our venue. However, having rehearsed in the space while experiencing the show from the viewpoint of the audience makes me realize that it has definitely worked out in our favour. Everyone is in such close proximity to the action that it’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of the play. It really creates an encompassing effect that perfectly lends itself to the overall theme of the show.

What has been your favourite memory from writing and/or directing Turtleneck?

What I’ve enjoyed most is the conversations I’ve had upon sharing it with other people. Turtleneck is an experience. You either come out of it deeply moved, deeply offended or in a strange limbo of moral ambiguity so for me what’s most important about this project is being able to create a forum of meaningful discussion and reflection about important issues, feelings and experiences. I’ve been living in the Turtleneck bubble for the past few months now as we ready ourselves for the production and in a way I really don’t want it to end. I wish we could just keep meeting together in rehearsals to work on the material, talk about it and explore the infinite ways the text can be interpreted. But now the time is fast approaching for us to share the fine work everyone’s put into this show with our audiences. I think that’s what I’m most looking forward. How are people going to react to this crazy play?!

Describe Turtleneck in three adjectives or phrases.

Carnal – The play is very driven by sexual desire in all its different lights. But whether it be sensual, tender, rapturous, forceful, aggressive, pathetic, mournful or just plain repulsive, it all derives from our base, primal instincts.

Side-splitting – Did I mention it’s a comedy? There are certain moments in the show where I can always guarantee without fail that I will be curled up in a ball on the floor crying my eyes out with laughter.

Haunting – When all is said and done, the play just stays with you. It’s designed in a way that allows the audience to draw their own conclusions and try to piece together the rubble for themselves.

Do you have anything you’d like to share with us? A story? A picture? A video? A song?

Yes, here’s the link to our show trailer:

Turtleneck is happening from Feb 7th-17th at hub14 (14 Markham St., just West of Queen and Bathurst). Tickets are only $15. Since seating is limited, it’s best to book online ahead of time at http://www.secureaseat.com/turtleneck to ensure you’ll get a spot.

Shows are on Thurs, Fri, Sat evenings at 8pm and Sat and Sun matinees at 2pm.

It’s gonna be a fantastic production and I hope everyone will try their best to come out to experience the ride.

For more info on safeword, “Like” our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/safewordtheatre