Rhubarb Profile: Immobile

Hello, and welcome to week one of Rhubarb. This week's program runs tonight and Sunday (I'll be there tonight, catching the shows I missed yesterday - I have work today, so I couldn't stay out too late).

My focus for last night was Immobile which features the gown/puppet shown above.

I also caught The Erie Disappearance and Do You Have Any Idea How Fast You Were Going?.

Performer Clea was kind enough to answer a few questions for me via email about herself, the piece, and the fest.

Can you introduce yourself and your piece?

My name is Clea Minaker , I am an actor and puppeteer based in Montreal. My piece is called immobile, it's a solo performance which I developed while I was studying at the International Institute of Puppetry Arts in Charleville Mezieres France.

The piece is a short and poetic foray into the daily routine of a big box supermarket cashier and combines techniques of object theatre, puppetry and performance installation.

The cashier is an actor present on stage in a constraining dress built of supermarket products, at almost 9 ft she towers before us, she speaks the audience who she considers, "the supermarkets clients" and insists that they have all already met her, "at least once before."

Who would you say is your ideal audience?

My ideal audience is everyone! Like puppetry my performance is very much 'visual' theatre, I think people of all ages will appreciate the spectacle. Otherwise, I would be very much interested in an audience who is unfamiliar with this genre, puppetry or performance installation.

What inspired/motivated you to create the play?

I am consistently fascinated by the environments in which we live work and move today. Particularly those which are part of our daily routine with ordinary and banal functions, for example, the supermarket. These
stores have often enormously high ceilings, oppressive fluorescent lighting, and are stuffed with stuff.

I began to imagine a character working in this environment who spaces out and dreams of the one thing she never sees, the sky. While living in Europe for three years I discovered that there were just as many big box stores and big box store customers as here in North America.

I wanted to create a visual environment that evoked the way these places make us if the whole supermarket imploded and so on stage the cashier wears her work.

How long have you been working on it?

I worked intensely from January to March last year and presented the show at my school in France. When I moved back to Canada I could not bring any of the installation with me as it was two metre high sculpture.

One month ago I started to rebuild everything from scratch trying this time to make it a transportable and tourable structure... so the whole thing can travel in some very big hockey bags on a Greyhound bus.

Tell me about the process of writing/performing about the piece

The script was written by a young French author named Sarah Fourage. In the final year of my puppetry school, we were expected to produce a solo (one must do everything oneself, construction, performance, direction, lighting and sound design and can perform with no technicians) in collaboration with a contemporary author.

Sarah and I discussed the plight of the cashier who dreams of the sky (I had a done a video installation piece with no speaking the previous year about a cashier so I showed it to Sarah) these are the words that she wrote for the character. The idea of the dress came after.

What makes Rhubarb a good venue choice for you?

My piece is short, it's new, and as I am discovering Toronto and its theatre scene I am discovering that Buddies in Bad Times and Rhubarb Fest is a great place to start... one is good company there! I feel very fortunate to have read that little call submissions for Rhubarb in the paper and to have been accepted.

What's next?

I am working for Shadowlands a Toronto visual theatre and puppetry company until the summer time (I'll be temporary resident of Toronto). I'm sending off applications for festivals in Europe and in North
America, I would like to tour Immobile now that I know it fits on the bus!

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