Co-created by Julie Tamiko Manning, Eo Sharp, Nalo Soyini Bruce
Directed by Julie Tamiko Manning
Centaur Theatre press release (September 14, 2021)
– From September 23 to October 2, 2021, Centaur Theatre’s outdoor event, Portico Project, returns for its second year with a new commissioned work developed by the event’s inaugural curators: Julie Tamiko Manning, Eo Sharp and Nalo Soyini Bruce. They were given ‘carte blanche’ by Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes, to create a new interdisciplinary piece for the steps of the theatre, which the trio dubbed The Exchange. Referencing Centaur’s Montreal Stock Exchange origins, The Exchange features five performers with a wide range of artistic skills. They include Maryline Chery (actor, theatre creator and improviser of Haitian descent);Corrina Hodgson (award-winning Queer playwright and disability advocate);Sandra Kadowaki (Japanese Canadian percussionist and composer); Kayin Queeley (Afro-Caribbean educator and founder of Montreal Steppers); and Ainsley McNeaney (multi-faceted musician, composer and singer/songwriter). In The Exchange, a small group of travelers encounter a theatre performer who seems paralyzed … an empty statue. They resolve to awaken the actor from the fundamental limitations of their discipline to see the myriad creative possibilities available. Challenging the theatrical norm of written text and making full use of the unique setting, the exchanges between the travelers and the actor take shape through spontaneous movement, sound, and music in an exciting and powerful 20-minute work that explores various aspects of theatre invention and performance, from the process of how a new work is born and where it is presented to who is on stage and who is watching.
“The driving goal in this endeavour was to ensure performers and patrons go home feeling they have gained something valuable from their experience”, said director Julie Tamiko Manning. “There’s a certain inaccessibility that conventional theatres have, which can sometimes get in the way of that happening. It’s definitely changing, which is great, but it’s so ingrained in the system we often can’t see that there are other ways to make theatre. We forget that we can question our methods. It begins with something as basic as the universally-accepted assumption that we start with a written script but language can be a barrier too. We wanted to unpack ‘exchange’, because of Centaur’s history with the word, but also draw from an extraordinary rehearsal I had with another drummer, working on a previous project. We realized we were conversing in another language, one that sprang from a deeply spiritual place—rooted in cultural complexity—that words could never have fully expressed. With The Exchange, we wanted to investigate and flesh out how artists can create within a new rehearsal paradigm, how stage characters communicate with each other in performance, and how the performers connect with the space. We’re so grateful to Centaur for the gift of complete autonomy in this undertaking and for its unwavering faith in us.” “So much has happened in the last year and a half that has prompted us to question how we live in the world. Is it possible to imagine better systems based on respect and understanding that encourage us to build a more fluid, responsive society? Centaur is very proud to support these incredibly talented artists as they probe these vital issues within the theatre realm. By investigating and implementing a different artistic approach, they help us to envision new ways to look at our relationships and our world. I’m so excited for people to immerse themselves in The Exchange!” - Eda Holmes, Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director.
One of my favourite design explorations on this project was when Eo Sharp and I delved into the world of Plaster of Paris and embarked on an epic journey to realize the statue dress... and then had to make 14 of them ;)
Our wonderful team:
Co-created & directed by Julie Tamiko Manning
Co-created & designed by Nalo Soyini Bruce and Eo Sharp
Lighting design by David Perreault Ninacs
Dramaturgical support by Rose Plotek
Stage Manager Trevor Barrette
Assistant designers Courtney Orbin Moses and Sorcha Gibson
Costume dresser Darah Miah
Set builder Dave Surrette
Creative contributors & performers:
The Portico Ad-Hoc engages under the terms of the Indie 2.2, professional artists who are members of the Canadian Actors' Equity Association.