Omnibus le corps du théâtre
Matrisse de l'oeuvre: Réal Bossé
A physical theatre piece created and performed by an ensemble of ten performers, Plywood combined movement devoid of narrative, movement seeped in narrative, and 3 large pieces of plywood to present fifty different "scenes". These scenes or vignettes were composed of direct address monologues, ensemble scenes, and times of text-less movement. The stories and moments presented followed the themes of finding one's identity or purpose, understanding relationships, and finding meaning in one's daily life.
I found the sense of ensemble and the physicality of the piece strong. I enjoyed its episodic nature, and how it weaved in and out of text and movement. The work also had a strong site-specific quality to it, and made terrific use of one of the side concrete walls. The images the bodies created climbing up, or being pushed along the wall were mesmerizing.
I am interested about the process the work took, and the role of the material of plywood in its creation. Was every scene somehow conceived through experimenting and playing with the material?
What I found very frustrating while watching the piece was how gender segregated it was. Despite how much of the conversations were focused on relationship dynamics, this did not feel like a choice that supported the ideas raised. There were five men and five women, all of which were white. They were often paired off, man and woman, and there were many scenes of "the girls" and "the guys" talking about similar issues. Similarly, the majority of moments of intensity or depth occurred between a man and woman. To me, working in such a way is rather limiting to the range of images, themes, or moments a group of artists could explore in such a context.
I am also rather dissatisfied with the general themes presented. While issues like "what is a fulfilling profession?" or "is it even worth it to recycle?" may be relevant to some degree, I find it limiting when they are presented in art, without any sort of further thought. I understand that the questions the piece directly asked (which are not all as simple as the ones I've used as examples) are ones that the majority of the population of Montreal ask themselves, I can't help but think that art has more of a role than to just reflect society.
Finally, as someone who is also working in the medium of movement-based performance and episodic plot-structure, it was a most fulfilling piece to watch, as it gave me much to think over in terms of transitions, tropes, contrast, and unity.