What other people have said

I already posted what people saidabout Perhaps in a Hundred Years six years ago here and here

And thought I’d do the same for the SummerWorks run as we enter our last 4 shows. [details here]


Mooney on Theatre

Perhaps In A Hundred Years is not a conventional theatrical narrative. It is a wonderful insight into this group of artists’ struggle with the issues that concern us all: why we are here, where we are going, why we do what we do, how we relate to each other, and what the hell is wrong with the world? - Dorianne Emmerton

I like the openness and thoughtful nature of the writing in this. She is dealing with the show in the spirit it was created in and she’s ok with standing behind her experience and questions. The length is also great - it came out pretty quick, but doesn’t feel abrupt. Really living up to the potential of blog based criticism.


NOW

It’s a meditation on isolation (the three are ostensibly lost in space), friendship and ways of thinking about the future. The trio’s understated, ultra-casual style is still refreshing and thought-provoking - Jordan Bim

A good review up to the last sentence where some doubt seems to creep in. While it’s true that the show maintains a fairly consistent tempo and energy, that’s clearly a choice, and one that, my feeling reading was, he was ok with. He just worried that other people (that uber-fictional “average audience”) might not be.

It’s not uncommon that I get the impression that people like Small Wooden Shoe performances “in spite of themselves” and worry that other people (usually in the abstract) won’t, or that the reasons aren’t right. It’s a problem I wrestle with.

As is the degree of pre-knowledge required. All things take different amount of pre-knowledge, but in the theatre climate, there seems to be extra fear of not knowing how to approach “different” work. We work hard to ease the anxiety with a casual and welcoming preshow, humour, songs and a way of being with the audience so we can all relax. (Conversation starter #6: “When doing something strange, it’s best to be relaxed”)

But clearly something to keep working on.

Also, dear NOW - why the short online reviews? I doubt short summations of complex responses takes that much less time than adding a graph or two of reflections. I imagine way more people are reading online than in print, where I understand about space restrictions. It seems a real shame to cripple your writers that way.


Swimming Lessons for Shut-Ins

Endearingly simple and painstakingly casual, Small Wooden Shoe’s Perhaps In a Hundred Years is less a play than an experiment to recreate that unique feeling of being contently bored with people you like. - Robert LaRonde

Again, my feeling is that he had a good time, but is suspicious of it.

Also, the use of the word “hipster” causes a lot of furrowed brows around the Small Wooden Shoe campfire. It implies a lack of sincerity. While the definition of exactly what constitutes a hipster is fluid and subjective, it almost always, at least to me, contains an implication of ironic posturing. Which is not what we’re try to do.

For my second Carl Wilson link in as many days, his post, A Spectre is Haunting Culture -The Spectre of the Hipster, from 2009 holds up well as a thinking through of the term.

It may also be that we’re over-sensitive to the word and/or associate it with a specific Toronto scene (Queen West) that we’ve always been close to (at least geographically with Hub 14) but also very separate from.

Again the question of the pace of the show is paramount. Which is true, the show is differently paced than most shows, because it wants to propose/do something that is different from some other shows.

Maybe we go to far or not far enough, but we’re ok with the question.


@nestruck has said some nice things on twitter and Facebook, but hasn’t committed in print or more official interwebs.


Hope to see you soon - we've been full but not crazy full, so tickets are available if you stop by Hub 14 (14 Markham St) an hour before - then you can grab a drink in the neighbourhood.

Surprisingly timely

I wanted to take some time on our day off yesterday to write a little more about the show. The pressures and mode of presenting at a festival mean that I spend a lot time yelling “Come see us” and I end up feeling disconnected from any interesting conversation about what we’re doing. At least online. We’re having great conversations after the show.

When Chad, Ame, Kilby and I decided to return to Perhaps in a Hundred Years we didn’t know if the work itself would feel dated. It was one of the mysteries of doing a show from 6 years ago.

Now, a week into the run, the show feels absurdly of the moment. As if we might have been out-of-time the first time we did it. It’s a show about friendship and tender resistance in isolation. It’s about three people, stuck in a time and place trying to make it through together.


When we made the show, Torontopia was in full swing. We weren’t a part of it - or at least nobody knew we wanted to be - but the energy was in the air. We were poor, in various states of unemployment, but it seemed possible that performances in little rooms could be a part of a new city and part of a new life for us.

We haven’t changed the material in the show (though we’re better at performing it) but things have changed around us.

Harper and Ford and the threat of a three level love-in have brought the hard-right turn in Western politics to Canada and Toronto; the world economy is falling apart, there are riots in England - not to mention all the things we don’t hear about. And there we are. Holding out and holding on together with a small group of audience members in a small, sweaty room, finding a way to sing together, be vulnerable and keep moving..

Of course an intimate performance in a summer festival in Toronto isn’t going to change voting patterns or fix tax systems or massive class inequality - that’s a different, important kind of work.

But it might do something - to the people in the room at the time. A step enroute to action must be that we come together, and come together with openness, pleasure and silliness and other important shared values.

I’m looking for both a community theatre and a populism I can stand behind. It can be hard to reconcile this search with the “alternative” theatre scene. But it’s present or can be, if we want it. Carl Wilson wrote a great piece for the Toronto Standard on “Torontopia in the Age of Ford” that I keep returning to, including comments by Dave Meslin and Darren O’Donnell.

These responses offer possibility - a possibility I also feel at Hub 14, performing the show and talk with people after.


Writing this post in the middle of the festival feels as scary as doing the show does each night. I fear it’s too grand, to “serious” “sincere.” Oh well. If I don’t start here, there’s nowhere we can go.

To start to talk about genres

Perhaps in a Hundred YearsI like genre pieces. which shouldn't be surprising. I learned to read and imagine in the worlds of pulp fantasy and slightly better science fiction. Even now, when I read fiction, it is usually some clear genre - sci-fi and fantasy have been joined by mysteries (the harder boiled the better), spy novels and historical fiction.

I'm not an expert in any of these genres, which is maybe why I don't identify them as influences as much as maybe I should. But writing about up-coming work recently, there were two science fiction projects (Upper Toronto and Perhaps in a Hundred Years [opening at Summerworks on Thursday]), one ghost story and I had just received an email about a hard-boiled radio show I had done 10 years ago. Dedicated to the Revolutions is a science vaudville - not a common genre, but I think still a genre.

Genre obviously gives a frame and some distance that allows for different stories to be told, for a different kind of thought experiment or "what-if." This observation is nothing new, but in theatre it's less talked about.

It's certainly not part of the critical discourse or "legitimate art"* theatre.

Why is that?

*I'm not even show what I mean by that, but I still think it holds true.

More coming on this subject. I would love to hear thoughts or get links.

Voices from the past about the future

cross-posted with the Summerworks blog

I’m riding around the city listening to voices from six years ago. The voices of Chad, Ame and I performing Perhaps in a Hundred Years at Cafe Esperanza in Montreal at the end of our Eastern Canada mini-van tour in the winter of 2005.

Over the years since, we’ve talked about bringing the show back. About wanting to spend that time together again, wanting people to see this thing that meant so much to us. And now we are. Original venue, original cast.

Perhaps is so optimistic, so gentle and vulnerable. Three friends alone in a room together, stuck in a heat wave, making a play about three friends alone in a room together, stuck in outer space. There’s a lot of music. There are interviews, aliens, Linus Pauling and tricks involving fire and tea bags. There’s an earnestness that is nerve-wracking to return to. It’s a little bit Godot, a little bit Dedicated to the Revolutions, a little bit freezie induced sugar rush. It’s the beginning of something.

We’re going to play it as a period piece, where the period is 2005 and a science fiction show made by three people fighting isolation in Toronto. A time probably not so distant from now.

- Jacob Zimmer, Artistic Director of Small Wooden Shoe

@Hub 14 - 14 Markham St.

Thursday August 4 — 7pm Friday August 5 – 9pm Saturday August 6 — 5pm Sunday August 7 — 5pm

Monday August 8 — 7pm Tuesday August 9 — NO SHOW Wednesday August 10 — 7pm Thursday August 11 — 9pm Friday August 12 — 7pm Saturday August 13 — 7pm Sunday August 14 — 3pm