dossier: Marie France Forcier of Forcier Stage Works for IN absentia

Slowly but surely, it seems, I’m getting to all of the current and past ADs of hub14. The amount my hub colleagues work is astounding to me, and I feel like I can never keep up with their ability to constantly produce. At least, in terms of this project. I’m happy about what my dossiers can do, but sometimes they feel inadequate as I keep wanting to promote the amazing work folks like Heidi Strauss, Cathy Gordon and Kate Nankervis are doing. This project, however, would get overrun with the same names too quickly, and that’s definitely not the direction I want to take this. I want each dossier to be unique.

I am lucky to be working closely behind the scenes at hub14 with Marie France Forcier. She radiates a maternal energy, one that is always in control and capable of steering the ship safely through the storm. She helps bring stability to what can otherwise easily turn into chaos, and the amount of trust she has in others is admirable. I can only imagine what it’s like to work with her creatively.

Enough gushing, on to dossier #25:

Marie France Forcier

Who are we talking to?

Marie France Forcier, artistic director of Forcier Stage Works ( and MFA candidate in Dance at York University; co-artistic director at Hub 14. Montreal-born and raised, Toronto-based for the last decade. Graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s professional training program, performer, writer, pedagogue, road warrior but most predominantly choreographer ever since. Academically researching the expression of trauma and dissociative states in contemporary choreography.

What gets you going in the morning?

Since I started my grad studies while keeping up my professional life? The sheer fear of not being able to stay on top of an ever growing pile of work! …In all seriousness: the excitement I feel about my work and my research.

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

I was in my first of a three year as a double major in Psych and Dance at CEGEP de St-Laurent in Montreal. I noticed that the director of the dance department and senior dance majors were addressing me with the assumption that I was planning on a career in dance.

I’d always vaguely dreamt of it as I was growing up, without ever allowing myself to believe that I had the chops. Finding out that others thought that my going in that direction was plausible allowed me to get there myself.

Have there been times you seriously question why you pursue this lifestyle/art form? If so, what was it that keeps you in it, or has brought you back?

I never question why I do. The drive is always very present although it constantly renews and redefines itself. There certainly are times when the hardships that come with a career in the live arts seem to outweigh the benefits, but those dips never make disconnect with the impetus.

Why IN absentia?

Three choreographic projects make up my MFA’s practical component: an autobiographic solo in studio theatre, an ensemble work for the proscenium stage and a self-produced dance event including the candidate’s choreography off campus. IN absentia is my off campus production. My choreographic contribution to the program is entitled Levity as IN (absentia); it is a short duet, it explores the experience of dissociative states in the presence of the other, revealing the dissonance that creates for the viewer.

My piece being less than 15 minutes long, and since I had Hub 14 for the event at my disposal, I figured: why not create a mixed program, providing an opportunity for other artists to present new work in a casual setting? Lucy Rupert (Blue Ceiling dance) and Brandy Leary (Anandam) are prolific creators, whom I admire and have know through collaborations on various projects. Heather Berry-MacPhail has been a pillar in my work since Forcier Stage Works’ inception.

Half Second Echo is an emerging collective of recent York dance graduates. Offering them a spot addresses my personal mandate to create opportunities for the emergence wherever I can.

In the year that followed my own graduation years ago, I was blessed with opportunities that kept me active and persevering in a competitive world. I am very grateful to those who provided me with such opportunities; the first year often determines the course of a career; whether the young person will persevere in the arts or abandon. I believe that returning the favor is a good way to make the dance community sustainable, on a micro-level.

Dancers Heather Berry-MacPhail, Justine Comfort (photo credit: Walter Lai)

What kind of atmosphere do you wish to create with IN absentia?

With Levity as IN (absentia), I am creating an atmosphere where coping mechanisms keep the characters standing. Where “retreating within following an episode of trauma” becomes the new normal. Where they have to share physical space with one other, externally present, internally elsewhere, trapped in a snapshot that may never be successfully processed; in absentia.

The other pieces on the program will bring their own atmospheres.

Brandy Leary in process for IN absentia

This is part of your MFA thesis work with York University. Did you ever think your work would bring you to IN absentia?

It has been a gradual process. The awareness that my own history of trauma had been seeping through the symbolism in my choreographic work arose within me over the course of 2 years or so, in phases. This insight about my own work led to my decision to dedicate my MFA research to the expression of post-traumatic stress in choreography. The process for Levity as IN (absentia) is a part of that.

What’s your favourite story about working on this project?

Levity as IN (absentia) is a work that has been in progress for nine months now, re-adapted twice for presentation over the course of that period. The most recent one was presented at Collective Space in Toronto, where the walls are curved, and the two dancers were climbing, reaching for unattainable levity, and sliding off walls as a choreographic feature. It was fun to watch, playful despite the contrasting content.

Describe IN absentia in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.

An assignment adapted for the better into a community event.

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


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.


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!


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!