Monday, March 19, 2007

masters thesis

battery opera is one of the subjects of MA candidate Anna Griffith at York University. She has set up an online forum about [storm] here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

...more reviews!

Bad reviews are often good reads. This one, from Victoria's Times Colonist is almost better than a rave, it entices you to check it out for yourself, despite the reviewer's dislike.

We also meant to post this one from The Toronto Star, an interesting take on opera as a form and battery opera's contribution to its evolution.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

David's appeal*

Dear fuckers,

I write in humble supplication. Gone is the cockiness of the past that persuaded me that sending pictures of Jay Hirabiyashi’s penis as support material to provincial funding juries was a good idea, as is my habit of referring to my cherished peers and benefactors as fuckers, with all the endearment that that implies. I write now, to let you know of our subsequent and crucial need for box office returns at our upcoming Vancouver shows of [storm]!

Save my ass. Buy a ticket. See a fantasic show -“manly”, “compelling and disturbing dance theatre indeed” as the Globe says, or how about “a worthy fresh-thinking attempt to reach the ideal of opera that has eluded us for hundreds of years” as the Toronto Star would have it.

Buy a ticket, save my ass, See a great show, and the first beer is on us.

To see More of Jay Hirabiyashi’s penis, go here.


David McIntosh
artistic producer

*This is the original unedited version of David's appeal. An edited version (that wouldn't be flagged as spam) was sent to our mailing list.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

...[storm] in Peterborough...

...and what a storm it was! -30 degree conditions had the company cooped up in their hotel rooms all day, but by night? These photos say it all...

Photos taken by battery opera during a Bob's Lounge gig at the Montreal Tavern in Peterborough, ON.

[storm] in Victoria

Last night [storm] opened at the beautiful Belfry Theatre.

We inserted audience feedback sheets into the program, and here's a selection of what people had to say:

-"Amazing, my favourite so far this year at the Belfry. Definitely coming to a second show...."

-"The dancers were nothing short of brilliant!"

-"...I felt like jumping up and cheering!...

-"I could watch this for hours...Best performance I've seen in years!"

-"Wonderful flow of form in the dance...I loved the experience of watching! The lighting was great and created the space for the work. FAR FUCKING OUT! Congrats to ALL."

What a great beginning to our Victoria run! And there's still 4 nights to come...

Thanks to everyone who came out last night, to Stephen White and Dance Victoria for (once again!) being great hosts, and to Mary Desprez and the Belfry crew for such a warm welcome to the theatre!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Peterborough trailer

Peterborough is stop #2 for battery opera's tour of [storm]. Performances are at the Market Hall Theatre tonight and tomorrow night, presented by Peterborough New Dance.

Click here to view a trailer of [storm] that they created to promote the show.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Thanks Paula!

Toronto was battery opera's first stop on the Canadian tour of [storm]. Performances were last Friday and Saturday at The Great Hall (Downstairs) presented in association with The Theatre Centre.

We were reviewed by Paula Citron, originally printed yesterday in The Globe and Mail. We would've linked to the article, but you'd need to subscribe to their site to get it. So here it is in its entirety:

Virile, manly men, bringing on storms

Vancouver-based battery opera is one of the most innovative dance theatre companies in Canada. The brainchild of the husband-and-wife team of composer/theatre artist David McIntosh and choreographer Lee Su-Feh, it generally follows a pattern of locking onto a simple theme, and then allowing their immense imagination to riff off into tangents that explore that theme from many different angles. En route, the audience is treated to a fascinating episodic journey that fuses dance, text and music in cunning ways.

The group’s new piece, [storm] certainly lives up to expectations. Its epicentre is the idea of how boys become men, with side trips into relationships between fathers and sons, and how shared history impacts on generations.

The philosophical implications are played out in pivotal ideas like machismo, bravado and competitiveness, not to mention cruelty and violence.

At the heart of [storm] is the metaphor of sailors and the sea, because what could be more manly than those hard-drinking, hard-living, hard-loving men who battle the waves? A corollary symbol is given over to the archetype of Ulysses and his men, particularly their encounter with the one-eyed Cyclops, which [storm] portrays as a father figure.

The all-male cast has shaved heads, reducing the body to its basic element of the flesh.

In simple costumes of shirts and pants, dancers Ron Stewart and Yannick Matthon, singer/speaker McIntosh and musician Max Murphy enact scenes of movement and dialogue that continually point to the vulnerability that lies beneath a sailor’s swagger.

Lee’s choreography is inspired by martial arts, with the men displaying stunning physicality that fills the stage.

Big, sweeping movement show the expanse of manly strength and male virility that suddenly crumbles into fetal positions or crushed bodies.

Each time the mood threatens to become maudlin or tender, McIntosh breaks into a lively sea shanty, accompanied by Murphy’s saxophone, that reintroduces the veneer of carousing sailors bent on mayhem.

Perhaps the most chilling moment is each of the four men recounting stories of supposed fathers and grandfathers who were the epitome of abuse and neglect. In each tale, women and children are the victims.

The unspoken thought is: What do these damaged men grow up to be?

Lee’s chorography would seem to indicate that they want to sever all the ties with their past but are caught in the death throes of an umbilical cord of quintessential masculinity that cannot be broken. In one brilliant sequence of intense physicality, Stewart and Matthon are tied together by arms and legs, rolling and tossing until it is almost impossible to tell which limb belongs to which man. The final moment of this episode is Stewart swaying back and forth like a Jack-in-the-box with Matthon wrapped around his feet.

Over all, the picture of man and manhood that battery opera paints is a bleak one, almost a cautionary tale that symbolizes man’s continued stumble into war and disaster. At the end, Matthon, the one man standing, adopts the jaunty air of the survivor, putting on the good face and not admitting defeat. One can only wish that he also represents hope.

Like all battery opera productions, one comes away with more questions than answers. This is compelling but disturbing dance theatre indeed.