An evening of laughter, self-reflection, and community
Weekend two of the Fresh Meat theatre festival transformed the Arts Court stage into a place for reflection, creativity, and laughter. Representations and expressions were challenged and explored, while light-hearted performances charmed the audience.
Friday, Oct. 20 at the arts court began with laughter and smiles as Velvet Wells’ All Request Radio captured audience members with a blend of charismatic humour, funky beats, and catchy tunes. Audience members submitted fake song names to Velvet Duke’s radio station before their performance, and during their set, they invented and improvised an array of short tunes. All Request Radio encompassed a light-hearted musical style not unlike Bo Burnham’s, where audience members were able to tune in on a highly entertaining and unique performance of improvisation.
The mood in the theatre quickly shifted with the next performance, Forever 27: a play about a blues singer who collects souls. In this short and engaging performance, Nick Gray highlighted the despair that weighs down on artists and puts into question the pain that often shapes their work. Forever 27 depicts the eventual downfall of blues singer Scratch, who uses musical artists as a means to his own end.
The last performance before intermission was The Self, a highly expressive and provocative piece that presents a harrowing reflection on the multiple identities, whether good or bad, that emerge from within ourselves. Luke McCaskill plays the protagonist, who suffers physical injuries while fighting through layers of voices that are projected as pieces of himself. A philosophical exploration of identity, The Self is also an exploration of lights, movement, sound, and poetry which collaboratively energized the stage and set the ambiance for inner reflection.
After intermission, Alli Harris, who plays the CEO of The City Aquarium in The City Aquarium is Proud to Present: The Marvelous Mermaids of Merriment, sends the audience on a rollercoaster of witty banter with her staff as they argue whether the Marvelous Mermaid Show should go on at the aquarium. The highly charismatic cast pours out funny and clever conversation in a sitcom-like fashion as the CEO mentally and physically prepares for her board meeting. By engaging the audience as board members, their twenty-minute play ends in a single verdict — the mermaid show must go on.
The evening ends with a moving performance on self-identity through Daikagura arts and storytelling by Kaylie Kreatrix, in her project Kimiko. She impresses audience members through various balancing and circus-like tricks unique to Daikagura arts, using a parasol, teapot, and other objects. In between, she shares her family’s experiences facing discrimination as Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War.
For her, the stage is not only a place for artistic expression but also one for raising awareness. Through her emotive performance, she deepens her cultural connection to her Japanese heritage, while also evoking cultural resurgence for the generations of Japanese-Canadians who came before her, and who will come after her.
The weekend on Daly Avenue brought to life the creative ideas of Ottawa locals, and the Fresh Meat festival continues to spark the revival of local theatre arts. The platform the Fresh Meat festival provides to local artists will continue to play an integral role in empowering the Ottawa arts scene.