Monday, November 29, 2010

Imagining Montreal

Really enjoyable event last night at the Bain Saint-Michel. Looked like a full house (about 100?). Kudos to Marianne Ackerman and the folks at Infinitheatre (Guy Sprung) for the effort. Excerpts from about two dozen works were read by about a dozen or so performers sitting on stage as if gathered pell-mell at a café or a bar. Weaving the texts together from disparate works of fiction could be sticky business but I think Marianne did an admirable job of bringing out certain themes (Montreal's weather, seasons and languages, being three of the most obvious) and even a subtle narrative arc that culminated in the 1995 referendum, which appears to be the defining event for anglo Montreal writers producing work in the early 21st century. There were stronger and weaker readers, some choosing to play it straight with the texts while others were more animated. Fortunately, the excerpt from The Rent Collector was read by Anna Furstenberg who was one of the more skilled readers. I was left with the impression that the excerpts chosen leaned to the side of a romantic view of the city and its people (young people, artists/writers, the Plateau/Mile-End), as opposed to the caustic or humorous. The excerpt read from TRC came near the end, got a laugh, which pleased me, and also was a denouement of sorts, since it talked about surviving the referendum and the mysterious glue that keeps this disjointed city together. At the end Guy Sprung said that there will be other evenings like this and I hope so. Visuals might be a nice addition to future events.

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