Sixth Annual Circus of Words
According to hosts Endre Farkas and Carolyn Marie-Souaid, Circus of Words is "a collage of text-based performances by poets, musicians, and actors hailing from a broad range of artistic backgrounds." This year's performances included, "music in English, French and Spanish, spoken word, hip-hop, performance, and an unforgettable scene from Milton's Paradise Lost."
First up was Franklyne, a real Jack-of-all-trades; she is a singer, songwriter, DJ, actor, director and producer. The musical styles her band dabbled in included rumba, country and folk. She sang of familiar Montreal sights; boulangeries, Mont Royal, Parc Lafontaine, the metro, and the plateau, among other things. Franklyne had a way of emanating a real genuine love for performing; she smiled constantly, and danced around the stage jovially.
Jessica Rose's spoken word performance was inspired by a 1950's etiquette book for girls. Dressed in a vintage-style schoolgirl skirt with a cardboard washer and dryer backdrop, Rose began her performance by nervously unrolling her stockings -a metaphor perhaps, for the unleashing of suppressed, teenage sexual tensions notable of this era. Oh, I've never shied away from making Freudian assumptions. Truly, I think they were appropriate for this performance in particular, in fact, they were downright invited.
"It's nice to be smart, it's nicer to be sweet," Rose methodically recited. But, in between memorized etiquette tips, she screamed or unleashed explosions of vulgarity. "This is my collection of sensational sex photos!" Hilariously, when she yelled, "Penis toaster!" a young child in the audience burst out giggling. This of course caused the entire audience to laugh.
Monk-e aka Daviyd Yisrael, is a poet, graffiti artist and hip hop musician. His spoken word preached messages of peace. "Expand your soul man, this land is yours." Monk-e also had musical accompaniment that took the form of the flute, keyboard and vocals. While Monk-e recited his special brand of word-play flowatry, images of his impressive, artistic graffiti work flashed on the projection screen behind him. Additionally, Monk-e performed a special, improvised spoken word session with Meryem Saci.
The Groupe de Poesie Moderne, dressed in head-to-toe black, used dramatic movement as a means to punctuate their poetry. They jauntily announced that they would be reciting, "poems on poetry by the Groupe de Poesie Moderne." A delightfully meta performance, the group, consisting of a man and a woman, followed up their piece with a survey for the audience consisting of questions on their act and on the nature of poetry itself, "What does modern mean?"
Meryem Saci, born in Algeria, is an extremely talented vocalist. Her influences include oriental Arabic music, soul, jazz, blues, funk and hip-hop. She sung her own interpretation of a traditional, Haitian song called, "Day-o" and a song called, "Life Goes On;" what she referred to as, "a sarcastic lullaby." Later, she sung about 'players,' "I ain't your ex, next, I just want to dance." Saci's vocals ranged from sassy to powerful; slyly crooned cynicism wedged between outbursts of emotion.
Finally, Paul Van Dyck performed an excerpt from Paradise Lost, using puppets and video. Van Dyck is a truly skilled puppeteer. He was able to manipulate the puppets expertly; subtly twisting them to sit, stand, or lie in such a way that they seemed to come to life. The puppets, representing Adam and Eve even seemed to facially emote anguish and despair at the news of their fall, and subsequent banishment from Paradise.
Interestingly, Van Dyck also interacted with them as an angel, holding the puppets and twisting their heads to face his in conversation. He was lively, fluctuating his voice from tender whispering to rancorous shouting. While one might assume this would make obvious the lifeless nature of the puppets, it did the opposite, it made the connection between the angel and Adam and Eve more intense, allowing the audience to anthropomorphize them further.
The performance later included projected video images of violence, disease and disaster, which perfectly complimented the rather dark passages of the flood being recited, "Grieved at his heart, when, looking down, he saw the whole Earth filled with violence and all flesh corrupting each their way." The chilling implication: our present world mirrors that of pre-flood times, and perhaps, is equally worthy of destruction.
From left to right: Paul Van Dyck, Groupe de Poesie Moderne, Jessica Rose. Photos by Joel Silverstein & DHFoto: www.poetry-quebec.com