Culture & Conversation

Open your Mind to Open Mic

Montreal is home to Just For Laughs, the most prestigious Comedy Festival on the planet. So you’d think comedy would be huge in this town. Unfortunately, it’s only huge for huge acts. People come out in a pack to see a well-known comic, and that’s great. It’s something to look forward to – but for now can you come and support us while we’re crawling to fame and fortune? I’m hoping to turn you on to something different: the ever under rated Open Mic Night (cue Saw soundtrack).

The Comics Next Door

Conundrum Press is Canada’s second oldest publisher of comics and graphic novels, yet within the sparsely populated Canadian comics publishing community, Conundrum is still somewhat under the radar. Considering that their main competition is the world famous Drawn and Quarterly, and the smaller, brand new Koyama Press, why isn’t Conundrum a household name in the comics community?

Images de Femmes

The all-woman art collective, Images de femmes, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and will be featuring work by some 70 women artists. The official kick-off is today, Saturday, March 2, at 1:30 pm at the Mile End Library with a reception and vernissage. In addition to a sister art exhibition across the street at AME ART until March 10, workshops given by local artists are scheduled throughout the week, which culminates with Rythmes de femmes, a celebration of women and music at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, March 10.

Walking Distance

For choreographer Sharon Eyal, walking is the new dancing. Corps de Walk, performed here by the Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance, Carte Blanche, redefines the mundane act with sharp, rigid lunges and robotic arms. Dancers wear flesh coloured body stockings and ice-blue contact lenses, marching in unison like an army of goose stepping zombies.

Large Emotions, Small Executions

In a work of eight successive solos, José Navas explores the effects of time, memory, and dance upon his body: through each, the vulnerability of the soloist is revealed and heightened. As the title suggests, we the audience move through a series of Navas vignettes: detailed studies from which we can but guess their subjects and significance. Beauty rests in the shared intimacy of the space, and in the concentration of the dancer’s efforts.

Starting from Scratch

Jean-François Laporte has scarcely put down his tools in the last decade and a half as he refines the sounds he’s making. The instrument inventor and composer uses PVC tubes and balloons, plastic tie wraps and compressed air in search of the limits to the noises that can be made from one object striking another. “I just go by the sound,” Laporte said. “It’s an intuitive process. I see what a sound tells me and go from there.”

Friendly Opera

After months of anticipation and a week of hysterical weeping from the neighbours, we left to attend the opening of Opera da Camera’s first full production, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, at the Rialto on Friday. This is not a good theatre for opera, its acoustics are as successful as Greek government and significantly less loud, but its size worked to our advantage and the evening’s wrong notes faded into a glow of joy at close range.

Butterfly Effect

Welcome back to Barbara Kingsolver country. You know, the Appalachia of the mind and soul. Dellarobia Turnbow is climbing a mountain – literally – to escape…

Water Works

There is an anarchic animalism to Harold Rhéume’s Fluide. Clothed in punk garb, Le Fils d’Adrien Danse exude the dexterous pack mentality of wolves and the languid cool of a vampire cult. When its seven members move in wave-like formations they are a smooth unit, almost pourable. Yet placid combinations break apart when one dancer resists, the group disbanding and reforming, willing the dissenter back into line by cutting off paths of motion.

Heavy Lifting in Montreal

Award-winning author Alexander MacLeod will be one of two mentors in the inaugural Mentorship Exchange Program between the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.The 2010 Giller Prize nominee will be coaching up-and-coming Quebec writer Josée Lafrenière, while Montreal Gazette literary critic and author Ian McGillis will go to Halifax to work with Nova Scotia writer Jessica Chisholm.

The Klein Files

Jesse Klein seems such a nice fellow in person. Upbeat, endowed with a sharp wit and always ready with a tangential anecdote, he doesn’t seem too glum in casual conversation. But like many in the Canadian film milieu, when Klein sits down to write, things enter into a harsher dimension. Since 2011, when he made his first feature, a confident debut film called Shadowboxing, Klein showed a clear ability to lay the human condition bare.

Deconstructing Hollywood

Slavoj Zizek says one thing was perfectly clear as he was appearing in his latest film, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. “I’m no actor,” he concedes, laughing. “Director Sophie [Fiennes] would ask me to do something, and then ask me to do it again for another take. That was traumatic for me. I would invent things as we were shooting, then half forget what I said.”

Sleepy Pastoral

Trois Paysages, as choreographer Karine Ledoyen notes, is not meant to pack a punch. Instead it should flow naturally, like a river; its dancers blown about like leaves in the wind. Poetics were absent Wednesday night at Agora, however, and the work felt disjointed and stagnant.