Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Gay plays at travelling theatre festival

Magnetic North's gay-positive charge

PREGNANT PAUSES. Parenting gets a send up in Bear With Me, about the pregnancy and early infancy of a child born into a queer family written and starring Diane Flacks. Credit: (publicity photo)

The 2007 Magnetic North Theatre Festival’s 2007 lineup is, well, magnetic. We’re just guessing here, but there’s likely to be a number of plays that pull in Ottawa’s queer community (which is well known for its resemblance to iron filings, as you probably know.)

Ottawa is MNTF’s third stop on its every-other-year journey. Starting five years ago in Edmonton, Magnetic North has Ottawa play host this summer — two years after St John’s Newfoundland and two years before the festival lands in Vancouver in ’09.

It may not have a permanent home, but from June 6 to 16, the National Arts Centre, The Great Canadian Theatre Company, Arts Court, the Ottawa Little Theatre and the University Of Ottawa all get a slice.

Sound weird? Wait till you hear about the plays.

Bear With Me is of particular interest to queer theatergoers. Writer Diane Flacks (who is currently working on a series for Global) has written a queer-themed piece about her pregnancy with her partner, and the early months of her newborn’s life. Originally a novel, this piece is directed by Kelly Thornton and performed by Flacks herself. Flacks says that there is a lot of funny stuff to be learned from her piece-little known facts that she discovered after the birth of her little one, such as how to continue to cope in one’s relationship after the birth of the baby wears on both partners.

Oh, and there’s also a play that takes place in a pool. The One That Got Away will be shown at the Soloway Jewish Community swimming pool. It chronicles a terminally ill man’s quest for reconciliation in his life full of falsehoods. The play will be performed by The Only Animal, which strives to put out the most unique, far-reaching pieces of theatre that it can find. The One That Got Away is directed by Kim Collier and written and (in part) performed by Kendra Fanconi. The play won four Jessie Richardson awards in 2002.

Magnetic North is mandated to showcase diversity, so along that tack they present the colorful Sexual Practices Of The Japanese, a play about stereotypes that plague the latter community. Playwrights have taken various cultural stereotypes and morphed them into caricatures, breaking through to the truth beyond common prejudices. The play takes place in typical Japanese locations, such as “love hotels”, and on a commuter train. Office politicking and Japanese baseball players also make appearances.

Cracked is a play that explores meth addiction through a freestyle MC’s fall from musical grace. While Stan the rapper is preparing for a rhyme battle without his usual dose of crystal, he begins to understand the magnitude of his addiction. Featuring music by Vancouver artists, Kyprios & Stylus, the play deals with making choices related to addiction and regaining oneself in the wake of dependency.

The Old Trout Puppet Worship will present a play that promises to be strangely satisfying. The play, Famous Puppet Death Scenes is a pastiche of scenes from the world’s most famous puppet shows. The company promises to deconstruct death in such a way that it becomes so absurd that morbidity will no longer mean anything to you.

MNTF is also excited to bring forth the world premiere of Copper Thunderbird, a play by Marie Clements. Artsy Ottawans may remember Norval Morrisseau’s work when it was on display at the National Gallery of Canada. This play is based on his tumultuous life on the streets leading up to his life as a Grand Shaman and the philosophical changes that this Aboriginal Canadian artist sustained.

Magnetic North offers an interesting pricing chart for the festival this year. For a different set rate, spectators can either see three, five or eight plays.