>E--MERGE(NCY), created and directed by Marye Barton, Mark Brose, Rachel Gorman, Kathleen Rockhill, Miriam Rother, Spirit Synott and Kazumi Tsuruoka, performed by all except Rother. Presented by E*merge(ncy) Collective at Artword Theatre. Aug 3 at 9:30 pm, Aug 4 and 6 at 6:30 pm, Aug 7 at 11 pm, Aug 10 at 8 pm, Aug 13 at 3:30 pm Rating: NNNNN
Aug 10 at 8 pm, Aug 13 at 3:30 pm.
Marye Barton has found a way to channel her theatrical passion and make a political statement at the same time.
A member of the Canadian Mime Theatre in the 70s, Barton has more recently been living with arthritis so severe she was forced to have hip surgery. Then she heard about Body Language, a Toronto Theatre Alliance movement workshop for disabled artists. That 1999 group in turn evolved from an artists' circle called Dis This!
"I could hardly walk at the time, and I wondered how I could participate in something so physical," recalls Barton. "But it turned out to be a dream come true, one that brought back my belief that I could still be a performing artist whose work is based in movement."
Barton and five other artists --both disabled and non-disabled -- have collaborated on E*merge(ncy), a performance that functions equally as a statement of art, protest and freedom.
"We're all unique, with an assortment of abilities and also an assortment of personalities," smiles Barton, who's also a playwright and psychotherapist.
"Little by little we began trusting each other, and then text and movement ideas for the show began to pop up. The theme that ties it all together is emerging, coming together.
"My intention in the show is to explore self-determination, self-definition and self-fulfillment. But beyond that, I also want to investigate what it means to be in your body and, by extension, what it means to be human."
Audiences, she points out, accept some limitations but not others from performers who aim to communicate physically.
"They know we can't fly, but some people have trouble with the fact that we can't walk. Still, we can move, express ourselves and dance, and we've discovered that what we do is a profound experience for an audience to share with us.
"It makes a political statement about how disabled people have been hidden away and not integrated into society."