MFA Theatre Practice candidate Christine Lesiak presents a theatre-for-one experience like no other
Pushing boundaries, experimenting with form, and creating authentic audience experiences are part of Christine Lesiak’s modus operandi as a theatre practitioner. Incorporating the knowledge she gained in her first year as an MFA Theatre Practice candidate at the U of A and blending theory with practice, Christine has spent the last few weeks working on a project titled 900 Seconds, to be presented at the Found Festival, June 25-28, 2015.
The Found Festival is Edmonton’s only site-specific arts festival that showcases unique and experimental work, taking place in non-traditional performance venues and allowing for interdisciplinary innovation. Now in its fourth year, the festival has grown to include more artists and diverse venues.
Christine knew the Found Festival would be the ideal opportunity to explore the practice of theatre-for-one, which has been receiving notable scholarly and artistic attention in recent times.
Theatre-for-one, as the name suggests, is a performance that happens one-on-one between the performer and audience member. They are often physically isolated in a space and time frame, which facilitates a close relationship between the two. Traditionally, theatre is communal, where groups of people gather and are able to have a collective experience of the performance. With theatre-for-one, however, there is an emphasis on the individual as the performer guides them along the path of self-discovery.
Found Festival 2015 poster.
In 900 Seconds, the audience is taken on a 15-minute journey of ephemeral intimacy, exploring the complex themes of memory and nostalgia through a carefully crafted personalized interaction. Christine is particularly interested in revisiting important memories, to discover and possibly challenge why we attribute such significance to them. “The level of intimacy we could achieve is what really fascinates me,” she says. “I cannot predict how each person might react— they could be very forthcoming or quite the opposite—like when you chat someone up on the bus.”
This non-traditional form of storytelling requires a unique rehearsal process as well. Without a fixed script and with a strong reliance on audience interaction, Christine and director Beth Dart (‘07 BFA) allowed themselves to become inspired by a variety of stimuli. They are curious to explore how the performance space itself can permeate the relationship between audience and performer.
“Rehearsing for 900 Seconds has been an interesting challenge given the intimate and unpredictable nature of this theatrical experience,” Christine says. “I have a narrative and some ‘plot points’ in mind, but it comes down to the relationship I develop with the audience member. That will determine the direction each performance takes.”
900 Seconds is Christine’s first stint with theatre-for-one, and she hopes to gain new insight into the subjectivity of theatrical experience. The discoveries she makes will inform her MFA thesis project next year, when she plans to stage a site-sympathetic and immersive retelling of Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Presenter: Small Matters Productions in association with Catch the Keys Productions presented as part of the Found Festival, 2015.
Event Title: 900 Seconds featuring Christine Lesiak, directed by Beth Dart
Venue: Black Box Music Studios (8111 – 99 Street, Edmonton)
Accessibility: Two flights of stairs to enter. Narrow hallway. Non-wheelchair accessible
Dates: Friday, June 26: 4:20 p.m. 4:40 p.m. 5 p.m. 5:20 p.m 8 p.m. 8:20 p.m. 8:40 p.m. 9 p.m.
Saturday, June 27 2 p.m. 2:20 p.m. 2:40 p.m. 3 p.m. 4:20 p.m. 4:40 p.m. 5 p.m. 5:20 p.m. 8 p.m. 8:20 p.m. 8:40 p.m. 9:00 p.m. Sunday June 28: 2 p.m. 2:20 p.m. 2:40 p.m. 3 p.m. 4:20 p.m. 4:40 p.m. 5 p.m. 5:20 p.m.8 p.m. 8:20 p.m. 8:40 p.m. 9 p.m.
Tickets: $10.00 Advance tickets available until 11:59 p.m. on June 24th.
Tickets are also available on the Main Grounds at the Festival Box Office (The Gazebo) up to 90 minutes before showtime, or at the venue door 60 minutes before showtime.
The Found Festival Main Grounds and Box Office are located at 83 Avenue and 104 Street in Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Gazebo Park.
Download the free Found Festival Mobile App. Search “Found Festival” on your smart phone for full mobile festival details and updates. Tweet @CommonGroundArt with #foundfest.
Christine Lesiak is an Edmonton-based artist specializing in clown and physical theatre for adult audiences, and is a co-founder of Small Matters Productions. She has performed her original shows across Western Canada, Toronto and New York and is an artistic associate with Toy Guns Dance Theatre.
Christine has a BSc in Physics from the University of New Brunswick. She is a first-year MFA Theatre Practice candidate, specializing in the intersection of performer-created clown and immersive theatres.