I heard of Rob Faust and Faustwork while I was still in university. I’d always been interested in mask work (it being one of the forms I had always been wanting to experiment with but never had the opportunity), but, sadly and probably due to the sheer vastness of acclimatizing to the independent theatre world in Canada after graduation, I never really knew where to find him. It wasn’t until last year, after being successfully and passionately introduced to the world of clown and all its associates, did I see Rob perform a few of his best pieces at Helen Donnelly’s Foolish Cabaret. The audience was in stitches. The full house was on the edge of their seats as he performed his backwards ballerina and introduced us to The Creep.
Rob has that effect on people.
A couple months later, the night of the Great Deluge of Toronto, did we actually meet, in a leaking garage opening onto a flooded stage and an audience that was smaller than the number of performers crammed in the back. After a soggy performance, we all headed to Squirly’s for a much needed pint.
And the rest, to use a tired cliche, is history.
I couldn’t be happier to be working alongside Rob and this talented bunch as we animate 30-some-odd-years of his masks for an all-new fully-mask cabaret: FALLEN APPLES, happening on March 10th @ Unit 102.
Who are we talking to?
You’re talking to born and bred New Orleanian who grew up in a carnival culture that identified with fun, masks, and ritual, but it was after moving away from Mardi Gras that I encountered masks-for-theatre in physical theatre classes.
What gets you going in the morning?
Besides the obvious answer of rich strong coffee and hot milk–the way people in New Orleans have always liked it—what gets me going these days is the work of making masks, coordinating and promoting the biz of Faustwork Mask Theatre, performing, and these days looking forward to the serious fun of pulling together the first (perhaps of many) Mask Cabarets.
What is your earliest memory of realizing, yep, I need, or want, to do this with my life?
When I was 9, Grandma gave me and my sister and cousins a silver dollar each for doing a nativity scene at her big family Christmas party. It wasn’t REALLY the money as much as it was having all the adults paying close attention to what we were doing and smiling and laughing. I played Joseph and asked the innkeeper for connecting rooms with an adjoining bath.
Have there been times you seriously question why you pursue this lifestyle/art form? If so, what was it that kept you in it, or brought you back?
Pure and simple: it’s fun. That’s what keeps me coming back. I’m fortunate to earn a living at it and the business owns me. There are of course many days it’s difficult and I want nothing to do with it, but I can’t figure out what else I could do to pay the rent as effectively.
Why “FALLEN APPLES”?
I love the point of view twist on “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This Mask Cabaret is all about family and all the positive and negative that that implies. We 12 co-creators all told family stories to each other and then deconstructed them and turned them into comic and poignant vignettes. Much of the material is cartoony in the best sense of that word… aka, clownish.
Why mask theatre?
I was blown away by their power in a physical theatre class. During those workshop days a fellow student taught me how to make masks and it turned out that i was good at both the performing and the making.
You’ve compiled quite a cast of artists for “FALLEN APPLES”. Can you let us know the roster, or some of the roster?
The cast is amazing!! We are in alphabetical order: Andrew Gaboury, Allan Turner, Christel Bartelse, Dana Fradkin, Eric Double, Helen Donnelly, Neil Muscott, Nicole Arends, Nicole Ratjen, Oliver Georgiou, and Rob Faust.
What’s a favourite memory, or story, from performing in mask in the past?
I performed a beautiful duo mask/dance piece nearly naked with a beast mask on top of my head.”Burden of Paradise”… think elemental dance/theatre version of “Beauty of the Beast”. Critics and audiences loved it, found it very sensual, almost erotic. My partner was friends with Carly Simon and her friends and we performed on a sweeping lawn under a willow tree for 160 swells at a benefit to help elect Mario Cuomo governor of New York. We blew minds! There were many people there who would never have bought tickets to see such a thing as us. We had celebrities–including Mario Cuomo and Charles Grodin (a fav of mine) in our faces gushing afterwards. The topper was that my father-in-law overheard Ethel Kennedy say to one of her grandchildren seated next to her, “Sheer depravity!!” Quite an endorsement if you ask me.
Describe “FALLEN APPLES” in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.