SIX STAGES FESTIVAL featuring seven international companies. Begins Tuesday (January 28) and runs to February 9 at Artword (75 Portland) and Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). $11-$21, some rush seats $6. 416-504-7529; fest hotline 416-593-8680.
where do figures from a dream go when the dream is cut short?That's the intriguing question posed by writer/performer Marie Brassard in Jimmy, a solo work that begins in the dreamlife of an American general who conjures up the title figure, a homosexual hairdresser about to kiss a soldier he fancies.
But the general dies in his sleep, and Jimmy drifts in limbo for 50 years, returning to "life" in the dreams of a Montreal actress.
Before the first performance for the 2001 Festival des Ameriques, Brassard confides, she was worried the piece was too complex and the audience wouldn't understand it.
"But once I began playing," she says on the phone from Vancouver, "I realized that people are familiar with a surreal, dreamlike atmosphere. Everyone dreams, after all, so audiences followed me when I switched time, action and character."
The character shifts are frequent. Brassard travels a Möbius strip of the sexes, playing the female actor and Jimmy as well as a younger Jimmy and the actor's mother. Nor are the figures sexually either/or, for in the actor's dreams, Jimmy is an androgynous figure. A bit of technological wizardry helps transform Brassard's voice as she moves from one figure to another.
A frequent collaborator of theatrical innovator Robert Lepage, Brassard drew on her own dreams for Jimmy.
"I've written down my dreams for years, and ended up with a book of material that's complex and baroque. They provide a great potential for drama."
Touring the show across Europe and Canada, Brassard has felt the erotic charge she casts on an audience. That's partly because of the subconscious nature of the dream material, which is so informed by sex, but Brassard believes the piece also deals with the act of creation and being an artist.
"The creative process is ultimately a solitary act, something you do by yourself and that emerges from you alone, even when you're collaborating with others. Ultimately, there's part of the process you can't share with anyone, and that's your true artistic personality."
JIMMY written and performed by Marie Brassard. Presented by Infrarouge Theatre in the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. January 29-February 1 at 7 pm, matinee February 2 at 4 pm.