Festival Transamériques (FTA): Resist and advance

Resist and advance

Toneelgroep Amsterdam's camera-ready take on Shakespeare
Photo: Jan Versweyveld

The fourth edition of Festival Transamériques takes action

It’s one thing for a festival only in its fourth year to draw so many amazing artists – this year from 17 cities in a dozen countries around the world – but it’s another feat that so many of them somehow converged upon an unspoken theme: resistance. Chalk it up to some serious organization and an intuitive understanding of the current avant-garde.

"I haven’t been looking for works about resistance, but that’s come," says Marie-Hélène Falcon, festival director. "It’s the way the world is now and what the artists have to say about it and about other ways of doing art and theatre."

Faustin Linyekula’s More more more… future is emblematic of resistance, says Falcon, as is another story of Africa, also told in dance: Companie Salia Nï Seydou’s Poussieres de Sang.

"Artists do look to the past, but they create for us today, inventing new forms with new tools in a different social and political situation," says Falcon. "They look at their world and want to create action and a different way of living… This is a festival of creation; creation is about resistance, change and building something new."

In her athletic and absurdist Golpe, Montreal multidisciplinary artist Tammy Forsythe calls for the kind of political solidarity that comes like a gunshot, a coup d’état. While Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodriguez’s Asalto al agua transparente focuses on the realities of ecological disaster in Mexico and how it affects the younger generations, who will just have to get over their apathy.

Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s Roman Tragedies: Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra brilliantly sets Shakespeare in a modern convention centre with a TV studio, where, over the course of five hours, the audience roams in and out of a performance that unfolds as politics does today, in fast, furious competition, where men are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.

While many FTA shows lean towards the political, the personal is ever-present. Opening the fest is the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Nearly 90², a piece that Cunningham created as he approached the age of 90, knowing that this would be his last work – rather than turning to nostalgia for inspiration, he found it in his own love of the ongoing reinvention of dance.

D.A. Hoskins and the Dietrich Group’s Portrait searches for the source of creativity in the relationship between art and the artist, a love that never gets bored. Saburo Teshigawara’s highly technical, fully engaged Miroku evokes the Buddha who appears when the world is in harmony – and the struggle to find that balance. And Frédérick Gravel goes from last’s year’s rock show to Americana folk in Tout se pète la gueule, chérie.

On the quirkier side, Theatre Replacement’s The Greatest Cities in the World takes us on a trip to Tennessee, through the state’s own colourful Paris, Rome, Moscow, Athens and London, where residents tell their stories. Back in Canada, Tony Nardi’s "…And Counting!" Letter Three lights into the state of cultural funding.

FTA shows often break audience-performer barriers, but in Le Très grand continental, Sylvain Émard actually invites us to dance in the streets as part of what is both outdoor party and public theatre. We don headphones and follow instructions together in Roger Bernat’s Domaine public and Martin Chaput and Martial Chazallon lead us through the streets in Tu vois ce que je veux dire?

In the name of solidarity and moving forward, the FTA ends on June 12 with a Day for Haiti, featuring three monologues from Haitian writer Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s novel Amour, colère et folie. A fitting finale to a festival that finds so many ways to stir up passion and send it in a creative, positive direction.

Festival Transamériques
Various locations, May 27 to June 12

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