THE WORLD PREMIERE OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEATRE INITIATIVE
AN ARTISTIC RESPONSE TO COVID 19
LAUNCHED ONLINE VIA SCAPEGOATCARNIVALE.COM
FEBRUARY 15, 2020 AT 8PM
WRITTEN BY ALEXIS DIAMOND, MARY JANE GIBSON, GITANJALI JAIN,
JULIE TAMIKO MANNING, ALEXANDER NEMSER, OMARI NEWTON, AND CONOR WYLIE
CONCEPTION AND DRAMATURGY: ALISON DARCY AND JOSEPH SHRAGGE
The artists of Clockwise from top left, ending in centre: A.Diamond, O.Newton, J.T. Manning, MJ Gibson, Conor Wylie, A. Darcy, J. Shragge, G. Jain, A. Nemser.
Scapegoat Carnivale's current production of Soliciting Prophesy is a magical attempt to bring audiences back to the theatre before theatre doors can open again. Although much closer to video art and animation at times, with successful forays into outdoor solo monologues, and an online intimate and intensely powerful, claustrophobic encounter, this varied collection of short performance pieces provide engaging and thought provoking looks at a variety of ways of perceiving potential doom and destruction.
High points include a conflicted, animated conversation between fraternal twins as they await the end of the world. An animated cityscape through a condo window gradually reveals, through image and dialogue, an oncoming threat to the planet's existence and the very fraught relationship between siblings.
More childlike, magical animation occurs in the underwater drawings that create the beautiful and hauntingly melodic setting and narrative for "Prophette." (see illustration below)
Perhaps the closest example of live theatrical performance comes in the form of a layered and engaging piece from Alexander Nemser as an outdoor setting provides an expansive space for the well managed, subtly acted, and engaging storytelling narrative.
Faced with the repeated closures of Canadian and American theatres, Scapegoat Carnivale co-artistic directors Alison Darcy and Joseph Shraggesolicited prophetic predictions from fellow artists in Montreal, Vancouver, Mexico City and Los Angeles. This new collaboration evolved into an online think tank/writer’s room with the aim of creating a series of contemporary responses as digital performance pieces on the theme of Prophecy.
After a month of discussions ranging from Greta Thunberg, to treating trauma with psychotropic drugs, to utopian visions, and brushes with mortality, each artist produced a digital work reflecting their own interests and lines of inquiry.
In these videos, which range in form and sensibility, prophets appear as nonhumans, children, botanica workers, non-believers, and stand-up comedians. The pieces include biblical and ancient Greek re-imaginings (Samuel, Kassandra), animation, direct address and Minecraft inspired creations.
SOLICITING PROPHECY SERIES:
Alexis Diamond (Montreal, QC) : First Flush of a Gleaming New Age
In a near post-pandemic future, Myriam follows the signs revealed to her in a dream to fulfill the prophecy of the Great Flush.
Mary Jane Gibson (Los Angeles, CA): Primordial Prophecy
A dying woman seeking to find what awaits her on the other side pulls open an ancient door to another psychedelic dimension.
Gitanjali Jain (Mexico City, MX): Prophette
Lula, a young girl, descended from whales, learns from her ancestors that she must play a role in altering the course of our climate crisis, as well as revive the well-being of whales on the planet. This hand-drawn, ethereal animation features real whale-songs as a central part of the soundtrack.
Julie Tamiko Manning (Montreal, QC): Whoever put me up here, you just wait ‘til I get down!
A woman gets off of her pedestal.
Alexander Nemser (Los Angeles, CA) : God's Eyebrows
A retelling of the Bible story of King Saul and the Witch of Endor. Picture Larry David as a Trumpian King Lear who visits an illegal healer on the eve of his unraveling.
Omari Newton (Vancouver, BC): You Know, You're Right...
On the last day on earth, fraternal twins debate what awaits them on 'the Other Side'. The tension between the diametrically opposed lifestyles of these loving, but divided siblings, and how they choose to spend their last living moments, makes for an evening fraught with anxiety.
Conor Wylie (Vancouver, BC): Dimension in the Clouds
The planets align, the bridge appears, and a brave child steps across to tell us what’s on the other side. Created and animated by a kid and a kid-at-heart.
The ancillary project Pocket Prophecies will feature short text prophecies, ruminations, and anecdotes, by writers from here and abroad including Claire Jenkins (Melbourne, AUS), Michael Mackenzie (Montreal, QC), Thami aka Mbongo (Johannesburg, SA), Earl Mentor (Cape Town, SA), Johanna Nutter (Montreal, QC), Rebecca Singh (Toronto, ON) and Anders Yates (Toronto, ON).
After two years of winning the Montreal META award for Best Independent Production (Sapientia 2018, Yev 2019) Scapegoat Carnivale was described by Montreal Gazette theatre critic Jim Burke as, “one of Montreal’s most original and enjoyably eccentric companies.” Founded in 2006, Scapegoat’s mandate is to produce theatre reflecting the diverse talents and extraordinary creativity of the Montreal artistic community. Their aesthetic interest is in the carnivalesque, and the highly theatrical. Whether producing new works or adaptations from the classical repertoire, they strive for theatre to be an unruly, visceral and authentic shared experience.