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Best of 2012

1. These Associations [Tate modern/London, UK/Tino Seghal + many performers]
An astounding live performance of a large group of strangers (friends probably by the time it was completed in October) who travel together in turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. They swarm, walk slowly, look around, tell personal stories, sing a gorgeous choral piece while all the lights go out and blend into the audience. I spent three hours at the Tate in September and could have gone back many times, it was the closest thing to going to church I have experienced in a long time, communion with unknown, peace with strangers, immersive awkwardness and discovering beauty in the ordinary and everyday.

2. ok/ok/ok [surprise performance/Chad Dembski/Cathy Gordon/Emilia Xochitl Alvarez/Festival Phenomena/Casa del Popolo]
This solo performance took everything out of me but was one of pieces I am most proud of as I tried my best to collide my love of dance, music, stand up, monologue, audience participation (mild), and storytelling. While in an early form, doing a one night free performance as part of the ambitious Festival Phenomena in October at the awesome Casa del Popolo I felt like a rock star, a nervous theatre nerd and someone trying to figure something out. Cathy Gordon shaped my jumble of randonness into a show and Emilia Alvarez jumped into a chaotic process with massive generiosity. Thank you everyone who was able to make it out, there will be more.

3. Student Protests/Idle No More [Montreal/Quebec/Canada wide]
As an optimist I believe people are good and sometimes do bad things despite their better judgement. As good people they sometimes also rise up, say enough is enough and give the entire world a burst of inspiration. The Quebec student protest movement was an astounding time here in Montreal where protests took over the city for months. Peaceful, sprawling, loud, and beautiful protests that showed a solidarity that I did not think could exist in contemporary society and made me believe that a better place is possible.
And now with Idle No More there is another inspiring and breathtaking example of community over coporation, modern cyber communication over government, and despite a lazy and ignorant media a growing following. Both of these movements proving that the simple act of being together in one place with a common goal is an incredible thing in this day and age and shows a dedication to a future where leaders can come from anywhere, not government.

4. Toronto Argonauts [Toronto, ON/2012 Grey Cup]
This was the final season of my Dad having seasons tickets to the CFL Toronto Argo’s after starting in 2000. We had been able to go to majority of their home games together since 2000 but after my move to Montreal in 2009 it became almost impossible. Still I was able to attend three games this year and watch a team slowly momentum after finishing dead last in the league last year with a disorganized and scattering group of individals. Their run in the play-offs; beating Edmonton at home easily, taking care of old demons in Montreal by handing Montreal a major upset and then on home turf securing the Grey Cup with a complete game where almost every single member of the team contributed an important play. As the NHL strike shows the massive greed on both sides of the table, the CFL is an inspiration of fan friendly, economical and entertainment that I will miss dearly in the coming years.

5. Pussy Riot/Madonna [Russia/Montreal (Bell Centre, August)]
I caught on late to the highly unjust Pussy Riot trial in Moscow that caught the world’s attention and asked serious questions about the role of judgement in artistic expression. These woman continue to stand up for their beliefs in jail while I get to write about it in the comfort of my own home. I think I sacrifice a lot for my art, which maybe I do at times but the Pussy Riot actions, music, and manifestos proved that I only skim what it means to commit to a cause. At a concert in August, Madonna half way through her concert revealed a FREE PUSSY RIOT stencil on her back and then sang a gorgeious version of “Like a Virgin”. This mix of popular cultures showed that this issue is about freedom of expression, the need for feminism more then ever and that in our trending hungry culture these stories need to be pushed forward more then ever.

6. Perhaps in a Hundred Years/Antigone [Small Wooden Shoe/OFFTA 2012/Agora de la danse/Tranzac Club]
In early June, Jacob Zimmer, Ame Henderson and myself performed “Perhaps in a Hundred Years” almost exactly seven years after first working on our first incarnation of the piece in 2005. The three of us have worked together almost constantly since and the history, trust, and love sat in my body in a way I have never experienced before. At the tiny gallery space at Agora de la danse we did probably the last performances of the piece (though lots of people suggested a 2019 remount) for a sold out and amazing group of people. It was easy to do this piece again, play music, talk about how my friends all have kids or houses, and be both silly and serious.
In October I saw Evan Webber’s adaptation of Antigone Dead People that was fantastic. With video monitors flashing recent CP24 news, a old table and a few chairs the Tranzac club looked like a low budget Wooster Group set in an old high school. To see actors have to restrain their voices (all “living” people were on voice over), their emotion and movement so that everything was a choice to be more real and ask what is the role of pretend? With barely two weeks to record, tech and rehearse, this 90 minute piece reminded me how much Canada needs a home of experimental theatre.

7. Public Recordings/TPW [Toronto/Public Recordins/TPW Gallery]
A one night event developed around a relay conversation that also was tied into Public recordings latest project “what we are saying” (that will premiere at World Stage in May 2013). I was there for the day of to help test audience configuration, timings of questions and lighting but also to be a part of a company that I miss dearly. the actual event of questions, answers and people moving in and out was so simple, easy and unpretenious that I was wishing I could do this at least every week. A vunerability came through that brought this temporary community a sense of initimacy is so often missing from live performance events.

8. Girls [HBO TV 2012]
Lena Dunham is incredible. From one low budget, autobiographical film (Tiny Furniture) came this break out hit that I could watch over and over (am going to over the holidays). Strong, hilarious, awkward and personal writing, a strong ensemble and a brillant sense of there here and now, it is the best show I’ve seen that actually deals with relationships in all there beauty and horror. While also super easy to critisize (basically all white cast through and through, very 1st world problems, most of the main cast have famous parents) maybe it’s even more of a miracle that the show is so fantastic. My favorite scene is where a character named Adam shows a dress rehearsal to Hannah (Lena Dunham) at a dingy theatre space and she is almost in tears, a moment that seems to say “theatre will remain alive through TV”.

9. Farewell, Aarhus! [Festival Aarhus/site specific/Secret theatre/Dustin Harvey]

The Farewell Project was created last year in Halifax between Dustin Harvey and myself. Through Dustins hard work, pitching in Vancouver and grant writing we were able to tour to the Aarhus Festival in Denmark. From a 14 hour flight delay, a nightmarish night at Heathrow Airport, I arrived at the Aarhus train station and walked right into our venue for the festival. Performing in an old travel agency we set up maybe the best version of the show so far and had incredible audiences of students, volunteers, grandparents, and a teenagers (on the outside) all of whom had no idea who we were. The festival treated us incredibly well, fed us astounding food, showed us around and put on a festival that took over this beautiful, historic and changing city. We were one of the few actual performance events as the festival was also a park, a music event, films, an architectural conversion of the downtown, and comedy. It reminded me of why touring can be so incredible, inspiring and re-invigorating.

10. Les Jardins de Tessa/Compost Montreal
This year Bryn and I joined a CSA, a local community run organic farm collective. While expensive at times, the food provided was easily the best vegtables I have ever had in my life. Bryn and I would plan every meal around what we would get each week or two and were never disappointed in the quality, quantity or ability to try something new. Also this year we joined Compost Montreal a weekly pick up service that cut our garbage output by over 70%, making us feel a lot better about cooking at home all the time. These organizations reminded me of always wanting to support independent businesses and trying harder to put my money where my mouth is (literally).

Film of the Year: Beasts of the Southern Wild [U.S.A./2012]
Song of the Year: “Oblivion” – Grimes
Book of the Year: “Pulphead” – John Jeremiah Sullivan

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Based in Montreal, Quebec and director of surprise performance, a small, independent performance company that has produced work in Toronto, Montreal, and Cardiff, Wales. Works with other contemporary companies such as Small Wooden Shoe, Public Recordings and secret theatre. Has worked in Paris, Italy, Cardiff, NYC, Atlanta, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax and many other cities.

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