Following the success of their Ottawa Fringe Festival (June, 2013), the Counterpoint Players toured OCCUPY ME to another success at the Hamilton Fringe Festival (July, 2013) , and then on to an equally successful run at the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City (November, 2013)
Written by Bronwyn Steinberg and Sarah Waisvisz (& directed by Laura Astwood), OCCUPY ME features Sara Lotus Blossom (Steinberg) in a new style of performance theatre, in this case, participatory yoga theatre, with the “audience” participating in the “show” as the “class” that is attending a yoga “workshop.”
Participatory yoga theatre incorporates the physical participation of the spectators as well as the performance, with Sarah Lotus Blossom (performed by Steinberg) greeting the spectators as they arrive, inviting them to take a yoga mat or a chair. The lines blur between performer and spectator as Blossom takes them on a karmic ride. As a note, to quote Counterpoints press release: “This production can be enjoyed by both the novice and the expert yogi alike. The workout is accessible and optional, though perhaps best not to be done in a short skirt!”
OCCUPY ME is a hilarious, dynamic and fun piece. This, from my OttawaTonite.com review of the 2013, Ottawa Fringe Festival run: “The character of Lotus Blossom, in Steinberg’s talented performance, runs up to the line of near satire without falling into the (potential) trap of buffoonery. In fact, such was the skill of her portrayal that much of the initial laughter seemed to be nervous giggling. After all, Lotus Blossom is our instructor and it wouldn’t do to laugh out loud at her earnestness. But the laughs do come in this entertaining piece that taps playfully into politics while engaging, directly, with the audience/class.” (To read my full review click here.)
Hosted by the Rama Lotus Yoga Centre (342 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa) at 8pm on Friday February 28, OCCUPY ME will run for one night only before touring on to Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria throughout 2014.
The Counterpoint Players
Rama Lotus Yoga Centre
(342 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa)
8pm, Friday February 28, 2014
Call 613-234-797 613-234-7974613-234-7974 to reserve your seat
One Night Only
Rock’n’roll hall of famer PATTI SMITH was a most genial host while launching the 2013 edition of the Ottawa Folk Festival last night…and a pretty decent scratch golfer to boot (more on that later). “We’re going to start with a benediction” (to bless the fest opening), she began as her band (the set was billed as ‘Patti Smith & Her Band’) launched into a smouldering “Ghost Dance”. Songs dedicated to festival volunteers and the city of Ottawa followed, generously, without pandering. Towards the end of her 1.5 hour set, a primal scream therapy session through the title track of her latest album ‘Banga’ collectively declared “the festival open”.
Throughout the set, an odd but humorous discourse on the greatness of golfer Tom Watson (it was his Birthday) and his many epic battles on the course over the years, served as a recurring theme of Patti’s between-song banter. She eventually elaborated that watching this kind of level of excellence for any activity is “an amazing thing.” Almost as amazing, for instance, as the band’s slow burning “Southern Cross”, that began hypnotic and acoustic before building towards a testifying secular sermon of a crescendo, stage and audience arms punching the sky, proclaiming freedom.
As a mid-meal palate cleanser, guitarist Lenny Kaye (who has been at Patti’s side since her beginnings in the ‘70s) led the band through a medley of ‘60s garage rock nuggets while Smith took a breather. Selections included The Music Machine’s “Talk Talk”, Nazz’s “Open My Eyes” & The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” – all appropriate given that Lenny was the original compiler of the first garage rock bible, ‘Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968’.
In golf parlance, Patti continued to fire birdie after birdie, most decisively sinking all her puts on the closing sequence of “Pissing in a River” (reviving the shamanistic power of “Southern Cross”), the aforementioned “Banga” (band and audience howling in unison) and a rousing “People Have the Power”, before intoning her famous line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine”, thus signalling that “Gloria” from her 1977 debut album ‘Horses’ would close out the proceedings.
Patti’s only mishit of the whole evening was an inexplicably perfunctory run through one of her best-known songs, the Bruce-Springsteen co-penned “Because the Night”. After dedicating the song to her late husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, one was primed for passion. ..instead, the delivery suffered from a serious lack of wattage and commitment.It was Patti’s only bogey of the night that kept the set from scoring a hole in one. Still, one shot short of perfection is an enviable scorecard to turn in by anyone’s standards…even Tom Watson’s.
Look for reviews, commentary & photos from throughout the Folkfest, Sept. 4 -8, at Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications music chat page.
See the full Ottawa Folk Festival lineup at:http://ottawafolk.com/
(All photos by Roch Parisien, copyright Roch Photos)