Michael Lyons asks 5 Tawiah M’carthy 5 Questions

February 17, 2009

ML: Correct me if I’m wrong. The back of the jumpsuit had the word “collection” on it, but that was covered up with a patch that said “correction.” What was the significance of that costume choice?

TM: I wrote the character into the orange suite, because I honestly believe it to be a very beautiful colour, but also because it has this sense of alienation about it. A Black man in an orange suite is a story on its own but a Black Gay man in an orange suite tells a bigger story on its own. The choice was because it fit it right. The writing on the back, I lucked out on; it came with the suite. I left it on because I believe it contributed to the story was I was telling. I am pretty sure the writing was a blessing. When someone does wrong by social standards, we are very quick to collect; “retribution” When someone expresses themselves differently from the norm, we are quick to correct.

ML: How did you choose the movements for certain words, phrases and names, such as the mention of the main character, the person they were talking to, “the heart beats,” etc.?

TM: The movement came through rehearsal, once we got the text on its feet, and the body of the character settled within, I will move as my body will impulse. With the direction of Evalyn Parry, we were able to decide on which of these moves worked with the text, its rhythm and sat well with the body of the characters. If I moved in a way that was not fitting or true to the characters, she would point it out, we will go back to the text and find its place on the body.

ML: How do you go about the creation of your work, and are you consciously influenced by any other performance mediums?

TM: sounds, movements, paintings and words……….. everyday conversation I see them, I hear them, I come to find personal understanding of them, I write from my truth in experiencing them and then I find the memory of these experiences on and in my body.

ML: What was the role of your dramaturge and director, Evalyn Parry, in the development of Obaberima?

TM: Evalyn was my personal god during this process. She was there; to ask the question that needed answers and help me find them when I couldn’t do it on my own. She watched and listened. She pushed me to find the honesty and truth in what I was saying without being apologetic. She made sure that I was not getting carried away with the idea of the show and kept focus on what I wanted to say. She allowed me the room to create without judgment. But most importantly she believed in the piece and me.

ML: I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed Obaberima, and I only wish I had the chance to see it again, but I want to ask you, why do you believe it is important to have this production staged?

TM: Because of its truth. I believe the heart and truth of Obaberima will affect and challenge others. “Being aware is never enough” the message is universal, but yet still very individual and it needs to be heard.

Tawiah M’carthy is a Ghanaian born, Toronto based actor. His new solo show, Obaberima, developed through Buddies’ Young Creators’ Unit, was presented as part of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre’s Rhubarb Festival and directed by Evalyn Parry.



February 17, 2009


Globe and Mail’s Kelly Nestruck talks to Erika Hennebury

February 9, 2009

Down at Buddies in Bad Times, the 30th edition of the Rhubarb festival of new works is in full swing. I’m really disappointed I haven’t been able to make it yet, because it’s one of my favourite theatre events of the year. I always get exposed to a new idea or style of theatre – and the fact that it’s not-for-review means I can just soak it in.

Regardless of whether Rhubarb’s boundary-pushing shows are good or not – and they’re often excellent – the conversation and dancing in Tallulah’s Cabaret afterwords always makes a night there worthwhile.

Anyway, not being able to blog about anything I’ve seen so far, I got festival director Erika Hennebury to answer a few questions by email…

full story here

Keith Cole asks Diana Lopez De Soto 5 Questions

February 9, 2009

KC: Briefly describe your Rhubarb Piece

DL: My piece is an investigation between words, movement and my relationship with beginnings. I picked poems that speak of the movement I feel within my pregnant body and music that have a connection with my relationship with my mother, my grandmother and my dad. I believe that beginnings are also ends to something else (or the other way around).

KC: As a first time performer at Rhubarb What are your fears?

DL: To be honest, I´m always afraid of disappointing the people that hire me or the audience that comes to see me. I guess I´m often afraid of not expressing my ideas.

KC: How is your ‘new body’ influencing your Rhubarb piece?

DL: A lot! The idea is the same but the movement and overall piece has changed as my body and hormones change. I´ve decided to keep it simple and poetic so that there can be some flexibility with my movement and erratic emotional input.

KC: How did you hear about Rhubarb and what made you submit a proposal to them?

DL: I moved to Ontario 3 years ago and have been hearing about it since then. Last year, some friends from Vancouver performed in it and told me about the interesting performances and supportive crew that surrounded them. This made me excited about writing a proposal.

KC: As a first time performer at Rhubarb what are your expectations?

DL: I hope to meet other performers to learn from and to keep those connections for the future.

Friday Late Night Shorts:

A double bill of new short works by Susie Burpee and Diana Lopez de Soto.

Fri, Feb 13 10:30pm, The Chamber

Mark Shyzer ask Lex Vaughn 5 Questions

February 6, 2009

MS: I hear Graham is pretty popular at parties. Do you find you’re sometimes upstaged by your dummy?

LV: All the time. Yeah. I mean, not personally, like Lex, no, I don’t think so… But it’s funny, I mean, a lot more people like Graham, but there’s always those few Diane die-hards.

I think sometimes Diane gets the shit end of the stick, and she can virtually disappear. And like last night, somebody said that someone’s head in front of them was blocking Diane so they just saw Graham almost the whole time. And they were like, I couldn’t stop looking at Graham’s eyes. I thought Graham was looking at me, like I really felt Graham was looking at me. So I don’t know, she kind of has, she has that ability. But yeah, Graham’s pretty popular.

MS: How is it different performing at Rhubarb, in a queer space, as opposed to somewhere more general? Does it change what comes out?

LV: For sure, I can do a lot of queer content. I mean Graham is so rude, right, and she’s so bawdy and harsh…

It’s just nice, I just feel like it’s more reciprocated, and I guess it’s the way we live, it’s more accepted, that kind of crassness or sexual innuendo, or over-endo, whatever Graham does. It’s more accepted. I like it. I’ve performed Graham a lot at a lot of different mixed spaces…

Like, I did this thing one night, at this horrible bar, and it was Graham and Diane, they’re pretty rude, and these two girls were really offended by it. And I was coming off stage, and they were like, excuse me, that was really racist. And it wasn’t a racist comment. Like, Graham said, Oh my god, oh my god, I’m sweating, it’s so hot up here, I’m sweating like a black man on election day. And, so they were like freaked out, because whatever, I said black man.

So this really knee jerk reaction, and they were like, excuse me, that was really offensive. And I said, oh, I’m sorry, Graham’s an alcoholic. And they were like, that’s no excuse. And Graham was like, Shut up, man. There’s no excuse for alcoholism? That’s bullshit. Bullshit! And I’m like, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, she’s very sick, and just walked away from them. They don’t know what to do. Because Diane is so innocent, and like really sorry and meek, I think it just really takes people off guard, because they don’t know who to hate. Or, they’re not going to fight some nerd with glasses, and then they find themselves talking to the puppet. They’re like oh fuck, I’m talking to the stupid puppet. It’s nice to be able to get off the hook in that way. Works for me.

MS: When you’re writing, is Graham around?

LV: Yeah. You know, because I can do Graham just sitting and talking, I don’t necessarily have to have her around, and the character will come out. That’s kind of how it started. It started when I was touring with the [Hidden] Cameras, we, just to entertain each other, the voice would come out…

I’ll get her out, if I’m feeling stuck. She starts doing stuff, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the videos, I have 11 or 12 videos online, and it’s all, I’d say 8 out of 10 of them are improvised. So even just turning the camera on and getting her going is enough to generate material.

But I had kind of really insane anxiety attacks I guess last week about the show, because, I set up a stage in my room. It was maybe like a week solid just performing it. And I don’t know, I just kind of hit a wall and totally flipped out, and was like, what is going on, who is this, what am I doing, this is totally fucked and why bother, kind of breakdown.

But then I just started hugging Graham, and being like, it’s going to be ok, right? Oh yeah, we’re fine, don’t worry about it, you worry too much, come on, come on. And it was just like, I’m hugging my doll. But I find this kind of strange comfort in her anyway. It’s very rare that she can be soft. So I don’t know. It’s a doll. But she’s very alive, yes. It’s fun to have her around.

MS: You said in an interview that “humourlessness is a crime.” If humourlessness really were a crime, what would be the mandatory sentence?

LV: Can you imagine? It’s getting pretty close in Canada actually. I think the sentence would be just to have to exist, being alive in a humourless world. But if it had to be some sort of, I don’t know, you’d probably have to be, you know what it would be? Being forced to sit in a room and watch Air Farce. Just episode after episode of Air Farce. Or like, you know that channel, the Ontario Legislative Assembly Channel. That. That’s what you’d have to watch.

MS: I have my first solo show, Fishbowl, coming up at Buddies in April. What’s your brilliantly succinct and wizened, insightful advice for me?

LV: Well, Marky, you know, I would be really, just be really committed to your characters. That’s why character based work is so great. Things come out of you that you would never say yourself. I think just be really honest. As long as you do enough exercises with those characters, that they’re all actually connected to a part of you, I don’t think you’ll have any problem.

Graham & Diane runs till Sun Feb 4, 8pm every night

Graham & Diane runs till Sun Feb 4, 8pm every night


February 5, 2009

Chandler Levak talks to Alex Wolfson and Amy Bowles (The Sexual Aberrations – Week Two) about moving their work from galleries into a theatre for te first time.

full article here

Jacob Zimmer asks Amos Latteier 5 Questions

February 5, 2009

JZ: What can you do in a lecture that you can't do in an essay or
AL: lecture is a live communication between people. It's not just about information, but about the speaker's relationship to that information. From the audience's point of view seeing a lecture is different from reading. For one thing, it's much easier to put down a book than to walk out of a lecture. Also I'm interested in using an image track to supplement my talking. I think that it provides a different approach to the material. Ideally different people can understand the lecture on different levels -- the humour, the information, the visuals, the performance, as parody, etc.

JZ: What brings the lecture into the art world? Or is that even an interesting question?
AL: My lectures are art because I'm not a real professor. That said, I'm interested in all different kinds of venues, not just art venues. The Rhubarb festival is interesting for me, since it's the first time I've presented lectures to a theatre audience.

JZ: There are now a lot of lectures online (TED Talks, Google talk, etc) -
do you you watch them? Are they relevant to your work?
AL: Yes I watch them. TED is pretty good, though sometimes a bit over corporate. I'd love to give a lecture there some day. Also I watch a fair amount of technical lectures on computer programming topics. In fact I got my start doing presentations at technical conferences.

JZ: I still have your Connections DVDs, is it ok if I bring them to the show tonight?
AL: NP. I hope you enjoyed them. James Burke rocks.

JZ: Should (some, most, all) art make us (artists and public alike) smarter?
AL: I'm not sure. My goal isn't to make people smarter. I'm inspired by information, so that's what drives my work. I want to educate people, but more importantly I'm interested in helping people see the world in new ways. I think that there's a wonderful freedom and exhilaration that comes with the uncomfortable process of shifting your perspective.

for more info on Amos Latteier visit www.latteier.com

BIG MAC ATTACK by David Bateman

February 4, 2009

Big Mac Attack

By David Bateman

“Blame it on the Boy Scouts. They got me into drag for the first time. I was Mrs. Casey Jones for my Cub Scout Troop when I was 8. I’ve like dresses ever since.”

– Pritsine Condition (The Cockettes)


In the tradition of those fabulous golden oldies form the San Franciscan sixties, the Cockettes, Rhubarb performer Taylor Mac takes avant-garde drag to a new level of fabulous absurdity in his ‘n her intensely political, hilarious, and poignant show ‘The Be[a]st of Taylor Mac.” I caught the performance as part of the PUSH festival last week in Vancouver and was mesmerized from start to finish by the conversational, high energy spectacle that ran the course of ninety non-stop minutes of musing, meditation, and song on everything from 911 to the lovably bitchy divide between different kinds of drag queens. When Mac tells the audience that more traditional glamour queens look at ‘his’ outfits and scream, “that is so wrong,” or describes a particular response from a group of drunken men outside a Scottish bar, you know this drag queen extraordinaire has been around the block more than a few times.


Pristine Condition (The Cockettes)

I was a mere teenager when the Cockettes made their debut in 1969, flailing about in the provincially located nether regions craving some avant-garde drag, only able to find anything even remotely intriguing in my Mama’s closet. Taylor Mac is a welcome reminder of those dysphoric daze as he takes us on a wild ride through the metaphoric global closet and treats drag lovers, and everyone else in between, to a conversational journey through American politics in an interactive fashion unconscious show of abfab proportions. In a PUSH publicity blurb Colin Thomas exclaimed that Mac’s compassion is even more radical than his make-up.” Indeed – the expressive face punctuated by carefully calculated glam/fright drag, turns the evening into a grand exploration of the beautiful and the grotesque as it applies to a North American penchant for fear and loathing in the face of global terrorist threats. Mac somehow makes it all seem terribly funny and his beautiful singing voice and ukelele skills decorate the overall show with a multitude of musical panache. Colin Thomas goes on to say that;

But it’s his generosity that’s really arresting. The Be(A)st, a pastiche of some of Mac’s earlier shows, includes standup comedy, yards of fabric, and a handful of sad, beautiful, funny songs, including “The Palace of the End”, in which American vice president Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne, and Saddam Hussein briefly recognize one another’s humanity. By the end of the song, you feel empathy for them both.

You don’t wanna miss the Big Mac attack at Rhubarb this week. It is a heartwarming rib tickling, slightly scarey, and totally gorgeous sight to behold.



February 4, 2009

In the spirit of ‘celebrating difference and questioning assumptions’ Buddies invites you to contribute to an ongoing conversation with us over the course of this year’s Rhubarb Festival. We’ll be updating the blog daily with interview, articles, Q & As, critical discussion, observations, photos, videos and more so add us to your RSS feed. We welcome your comments and we invite you to submit to the 5 Questions series.  Simply choose anyone who’s participating in Rhubarb this year and think about 5 questions you’d like to ask.

email your questions to me: erika@artsexy.ca and I’ll do my best to post them once answered.


February 4, 2009

Jeff Hnilicka for Culturebot asked me 5 questions about the Rhubarb Festival. I decided to steal his idea, so keep an eye out for upcoming posts.

JH: Rhubarb is turning 30 this year.  All the thirty-year-olds I know are pissed at baby-boomers and terrified by millenials.  How does Rhubarb festival locate itself between these generations?

EH: Rhubarb is in bed with both generations, as I see it. As a child of baby-boomers, Rhubarb has that whole Oedipus thing going on. I think sex and destruction best define the aesthetic of the festival. We want to destroy our parents’ generation and all its complacency but we still have a big thing for Mommy (in this case, Sky Gilbert). As for me – I am Gen Xer and so, unlike the millenials (as cute as they are), my love of flannel plaid shirts is in no way retro-ironic and I can’t type worth shit.

JH:  Why is it called the Rhubarb festival?

EH: According to Franco Boni’s book Rhubarb-o-rama, the name can be derived from Sky Gilbert, Jerry Ciccoritti, Matt Walsh, Fabian Boutillier and some other co-founding artists. They were sitting around trying to come up with a name for the festival. Sky suggested New Faces of ’79, which was pretty much instantly shot down. They were all really into surrealism at the time so they started naming random fruits and vegetables and Rhubarb seemed to stick. The festival was then named Rhubarb! Rhubarb!, later shortened to Rhubarb!. A few years ago we decided to nix the exclamation mark and here we are. Rhubarb. It’s like how in big crowd scenes in the movies they instruct the extras to just keep saying ‘rhubarb’ over and over again if they can’t think of anything else to say. So you have this underpaid crowd of random people, who aren’t good looking enough to be movie stars, saying ‘rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb’ over and over again as background for the ‘beautiful people’. What a totally surreal and horrifying metaphor for real life. But to me, those extras seem much more interesting to me than Brangelina, you know? I suppose that is my interpretation.

JH: Your festival has some fab national and international programming.  Who should we be watching in 2009 from Toronto?

EH: This year we are presenting a few touring pieces I am very excited about. Taylor Mac is here from New York for 4 nights only on his way across Canada. As a company that aims to present contemporary queer work that is pro-sexual, political and challenging, I can’t think of a better fit than Taylor. We are also extremely lucky to have Ame Henderson’s company, Public Recordings, showing /Dance/Songs/ for all of Week Three of Rhubarb, plus a special one night presentation of Matija Ferlin’s Sad Sam (revisited), which is one of my favourite pieces I’ve seen in the past year. I’m also excited about Amos Latteier’s new lecture performance A History of the Cage and Sweet Ecstasy, by Don Simmons who usually works in performance art. They are both artists to watch who are working in new hybrids of performance theatre and public lecture.

JH:  Buddies in Bad Times has been producing queer work for 30 years.  Do you see this role shifting away from topics based in identity-politics?

EH: Buddies redefinition of ‘queer’ was expanded in our revised mandate to include both ‘LGBT’ and ‘outside the mainstream’. So, on the one hand, yes, we are moving away from producing topical text-based narrative plays about the lives of LGBT people. On the other hand I feel that queers will never get away from identity-politics in performance. Transgression, performance and identity are a part of our every day lives. The solo literary tradition of playwriting is a marginal aspect of queer performance-making. Because playwriting is perceived as a more ‘legitimate’ and because it is currently a more rewarded artistic pursuit it can result in a system which alienates queer identities, censors sexuality and imposes a binary interpretation of gender. Queers often perform in bars, in galleries, in basements, in cabarets and in public spaces. It’s crucial that Buddies continues to defend a space where these artists are encouraged and granted access to the means of artistic production and development.

JH:  Do you have any delicious rhubarb recipes you’d like to share?

EH: My mom used to grow it in the backyard. The best is when you dip the raw stalk in sugar. A little sweet, a little tart and right out of the ground with the dirt still on it, eh?