Arts & Entertainment
4 min

More Rhubarb

Smart, tart theatre

Sharp, tart and occasionally bitter, the 30th-annual Rhubarb Festival continues to make eyes water and mouths salivate with weeks two and three of tasty alternative theatre.

Lots of lip-smacking lesbian shenanigans are found in Alex Wolfson’s new piece The Sexual Aberrations: Part One. It’s the first installment of a planned trilogy inspired by the sexual theories of Sigmund Freud. Using Freud’s essays Wolfson delves into the naughty world of romantic consanguinity with sisters Sophie and Mathilde (played by Lindsay Clark and Amy Bowles).

Turns out the two girls want to do more than braid each other’s hair, though matters are complicated by Sophie’s precarious health. Older sister Mathilde’s desire for her sibling is conflicted by a sense of maternal protectiveness and deep sexual repression.

Help arrives in the form of the inscrutable Herr F (played by Liz Peterson), who puts the sisters through hypnosis and analysis to show them the truth behind sexual deviancy.

“Freud said we assume that normal sexuality is based around male and female penetration leading toward birth,” says Wolfson, “but his view was that nobody existed within that idea.

“It’s a fictional idea, so to understand sexuality as one of the essential elements of who and what we are, we have to understand that everyone begins from a place of perversion.”

Though he used Freud’s essays as a launching pad for the story Wolfson is quick to point out that these are not biographical tales. “The original essays are just a launching pad,” he says. “I’m using the ideas from them to explore the questions I’m interested in, like the normalcy of perversion.”

The Sexual Aberrations: Part One continues till Sun, Feb 15 at 9:10pm in the Main Chamber.

Subjugation and indentured servitude may sound appealing in certain contexts, but it’s decidedly unsexy when your own country rents you out to rich white families. Such is the plight of nannies imported from the Philippines through Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program. Audiences may be surprised at the ugly truth revealed by the Sulong Theatre Collective’s new play Future Folk. Aura Carcueva, Karen Ancheta, Romeo Candido and Catherine Hernandez make up the collective, and draw on their community’s cultural history to weave their tale.

“We use the vocabulary of Filipino folk arts,” says Hernandez. “There are usually shapes, dances and songs used to tell a story. It’s our way of bringing our folk traditions to the present day. ”

It’s a story that grows more disturbing with investigation, and the collective knows that many Canadians may be surprised at the poignant realities facing Filipino nannies in this country.

“There is a generation of Filipino children who are left motherless because their mothers are exported as forced labour to Canada,” Hernandez says. “There’s an entire Filipino infrastructure in place to support these women leaving their families. There are no jobs, their children are starving and need to be educated.

“The last three regimes have been taking part in order to contribute to the wealth of the nation with the gross national product. And the biggest export of the Philippines is their women.”

Separation from their family isn’t the only hardship faced by these hardworking women; employment conditions are far removed from even the lowliest position at your local Burger King.

“They’re there for 24 hours a day, six days a week,” says Hernandez. “They’re supposed to be doing light care like cleaning up after your kid, but they’re out shovelling snow or cleaning out the eavestrough. I think it’s very easy to believe it’s acceptable and that we’re doing them a favour by bringing them to this country, but we need to tell Canadians that there is slavery here.”

Future Folk continues till Feb 15 at 8pm in Tallulah’s Cabaret.

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Relationships are brutal, this we know. For every fluttering heart and tingling groin there are sleepless nights and days of torment. Croatian performance and dance artist Matija Ferlin puts his broken heart on display in his  new piece Sad Sam.

“Sad Sam, in my own language, means ‘Now I am,’” says Ferlin. “I used the name as a double language. It can be read in a melancholic way, but it’s also treating the here and now of performing an event, instead of just performing the memory of what happened.”

Ferlin approaches the piece differently with each performance, choosing to interpret the story of a devastating breakup from whatever state of mind and body he finds himself in at the moment. He feels this fluid combination of dance and text is a more honest approach to retelling the true story from his past, instead of trying to remember how he felt and reacted at the time.

“Four years after a breakup you have a different opinion of yourself and the other person than you did when it happened,” Ferlin says. “My relation to the subject has changed, and each performance reflects that.”

Sad Sam plays for one night only, Fri, Feb 20 at 10:30pm in the chamber. Ferlin also appears in week three’s Dance/Songs, a dance performance-cum-rock concert that premieres Wed, Feb 18 at 8pm in the chamber.

There’s lots of queer goodness to see in weeks two and three. Make sure to catch the Young Creators Unit presentations, playing both weeks at 6:30pm in the chamber. These feature rising queer stars Kim Crosby, Rob Salerno, Cole J Alvis and Tawiah M’carthy in original pieces developed under the direction of performance artist/musician/poet and all ’round fabulous art chick Evalyn Perry.

Chris Dupuis continues his quest to become the Barbara Walters of the performance art scene with participant interviews on Thu, Feb 12 and 19 at 7pm, and former Buddies doyenne Sky Gilbert joins David Tomlinson, Ryan Kelly and Geoffrey Pounsett in Hope Thompson’s new play She Walks the Line, running till Feb 15 at 8:35pm in the chamber.