World Stage 2014

5 shows to watch at World Stage 2014

World Stage 2014, as is the case each year, showcases a group of innovative artists and their latest obsessions in contemporary performance modes at Harbourfront Centre. It's a breeding ground for bold, new approaches, across a number of different disciplines that take performance further. This year's festival will launch with the #artlive Vogue Ball, an inclusive jam that hearkens back to the golden days of queer balls, which took place in a trangressive 1980s New York.

Here are some of the highlights at this year's World Stage.

UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW / February 12-15 / United States / Fleck Dance Theatre
Young Jean Lee is a World Stage veteran, having appeared at the festival in 2012 with The Shipment. Her newest project, UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW, features six performers in a play without words and without clothes. In place of words is an irreverent exploration of the possibilities of gender and identity. Lee is an Obie Award-winning artist whose charming mantra, borrowed from teacher Mac Wellman, is to "write plays based on the worst idea imaginable."

Major Tom / February 26 - March 1 / UK / Enwave Theatre
The most talked about piece from last year's World Stage was Dachshund UN, a nearly unfathomable installation of a mock United Nations Commission on Human Rights performed by 36 dachshunds. Victoria Melody, a performer from the UK, continues the canine trend when she appears alongside her six year-old basset hound Major Tom, for whom the play is named. In a strange turn of events that begins when she enters MT into a dog show, Victoria finds herself in a beauty pageant partly as an act of protest.

Conte d'amour / April 1-5 / Sweden, Finland, Germany / Fleck Dance Theatre
The brainchild of Markus Öhrn, a visual artist from Sweden, Conte d'amour is a video play composed of images that traverse and journey between the borders of desire and horror. A challenging piece, to be sure, given that the subject matter is inspired by the recent stories of home imprisonment perpetrated by Josef Fritzl in Austria and Ariel Castro in Cleveland. The play reads not as an attempt to understand the tragedies, but rather to probe the disturbing darkness of patriarchal madness.

Foudres / April 29 - May 3 / Canada / Fleck Dance Theatre
Performances choreographed by Dave St-Pierre are the type of stuff that makes you want get out of bed and run to the theatre -- they're brash, aggressive, in-your-face, and unapologetic. His newest, Foudres, is the final installation of a trilogy of work which mines the brutal battlefield of love, sex, and death (joining the previous two pieces La pornographie des âmes and Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde!) If you see one performance during the festival, startle yourself and make it this one.

Mies Julie / May 6-10 / South Africa / Enwave Theatre
August Strindberg's Miss Julie, while always a classic play in the usual rotation, has seen a resurgence of late, with numerous adaptations and treatments. With the gulf between the rich and poor widening and a renewed discussion of class struggle, there's no wonder the play continues to resonate. Celebrated South African writer and director Yael Farber arrives at World Stage with a provocative adaptation of the kitchen tale set eighteen years after the end of apartheid.

Special this year, on the occasion of the Harbourfront Centre's 40th anniversary, FIXT POINT weaves together the collected memories of the centre with the radio drama, The Tale of Harbourfront Centre. The performance is available for download online starting April 1.

Harbourfront's World Stage, runs from February 1 - May 18. Visit the World Stage website for information on tickets and scheduling.

Photo from Major Tom by Liquid Photo Image Cinema

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