NOT FOR ALL THIS (A LITTLE ANTHEM BEFORE THE LIGHTS GO OUT) created and performed by Sean MacMahon and Kevin Rees-Cummings. Presented by emergency. exit as part of Hatch at the Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West). Opens Tuesday (December 16) and runs to December 21, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 6 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $15, Sunday matinee pwyc. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
There's new work hatching at Harbourfront Centre. The peeps of pleasure you'll be hearing from the Studio Theatre this season are part of the investigations and growing spurts of a quintet of theatre projects. The new Hatch series, which provides venue and professional production assistance to innovative shows at some level of development, continues with the latest multidisciplinary piece by emergency.exit, not for all this (a little anthem before the lights go out).
Moving to Harbourfront is a big step for Sean MacMahon and Kevin Rees-Cummings, the company's sole artists. The first two instalments in their sleepwalking trilogy - this is the third, though not necessarily the final one - saw brief life in recent Rhubarb! festivals.
Comprised of dialogue, movement, film and lighting, the shows demonstrated the onstage chemistry between the pair and process was as vital as the end results.
Both as collaborators with larger groups and as a twosome, the cutting-edge artists are experienced at creating works that make an effect in ways other than through linear narrative. In setting up emergency.exit, they turned for inspiration to the principles of the Dogme 95 filmmakers, who rely on natural lighting, unenhanced sound and improvised dialogue.
"It's a different feeling to create work around the limitations and freeing aspects of their manifesto," observes MacMahon, whose shows includes Fusion, me@sure 3.1 and Exhibit. "We don't sit down and write but rather create material loosely through sharing ideas and improvs."
"We're both inspired by music," jumps in actor/dancer Rees-Cummings, known for his contributions to Rabid, Severe Blow To The Head and Something About A River.
This is evident in the music that influences the new show, a little of everything, from Mogwai and Montreal band God Speed You! Black Emperor - "We like heavy guitar prog rock," notes MacMahon - to the lieder of Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert.
The two eschew directors and designers, and operate all the show's elements, including lighting, themselves. Democracy rules the creative process, since both have to agree on all elements of the production, either by two yes votes or a process of persuasion.
A rehearsal period provides the two not so much with a script as what MacMahon calls a combination of road maps, scrapbooks and blueprints.
Describing this latest piece as "a collision of ideas on the tension of the present," they tell me to expect a show that incorporates super-8 film, a bit of video, slides, text, guitars, electric and acoustic pianos and harmonica. As Rees-Cummings notes, not for all this is the kind of economic piece that's really tour-friendly.
"I don't want people to think they're coming to see an exercise or an experiment," he adds.
"Art is a subjective thing, and we treat the audience as intelligent human beings who walk out of our shows affected in different ways," continues MacMahon.
Harbourfront's Hatch series began last week with a remount of Nation of Aslan/Players by Nature's richardthesecond and continues in the new year with Theatre Asylum's The Trials Of John Demjanjuk, Suitcase in Point's Be Wearing Wolf and Theatrefront's Swimming In The Shallows.