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VideoCabaret is one of Canada’s most inventive, prolific and celebrated theatre ensembles. The company’s founding playwrights Michael Hollingsworth and Deanne Taylor have created many enduring plays, and with renowned designers and actors have devised spectacularly original styles of performance — black-box epics, multi-media cabarets, musicals, opera, and masquerades.
In Toronto 1976, VideoCabaret began to make the first plays integrating video-cameras, piles of hot-wired TV’s, and live rock’n’roll; and staged these spectacles in famous and notorious venues in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, New York and London.
After the world tour, VideoCab moved into the Cameron House, an art and music club on pre-hip Queen Street West in Toronto. The company wired the building for video, joining their upstairs studio and the Cameron stage in a half-real half-virtual theatre space. In this environment Michael staged adaptations of Brave New World and 1984, while Deanne and the Hummer Sisters ran for Mayor of Toronto and helped define the local zeitgeist with political cabarets involving hundreds of actors, designers, musicians, painters.
In the 80’s and 90’s VideoCab performed mainly on the stages of Toronto’s heroic new-play producers — Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre and the Theatre Centre. Deanne and long-term collaborators honed the ‘video-cabaret’ staging-style to realize her plays about mass-media politics and societies. In the same period, the company’s core artists invented the ‘black-box’ style for Michael’s epic play cycle: The History Of The Village Of The Small Huts which satirizes and dramatizes Canada’s history from Chief Donnacona and Jacques Cartier to recent times.
In 2000, at the invitation of the legendary Cameron House, VideoCab refurbished a theatre space where the company is creating new work, re-inventing their classic History Plays, supporting play workshops for Guest Artists, and sustaining a Carnival Arts Exchange that connnects Trinidadian and Toronto artists in the practice of Carnival design.
VideoCabaret’s work has been honoured by scores of Nominations and twenty-three Dora Mavor Moore Awards, most recently Outstanding New Play 2004 and Costume Design 01-03.
(see the full release in the Audio Description section of this site)
The Visual Arts Program of this year’s Luminato Festival, June 8th –17th, 2012, includes three extraordinary installations equipped with recorded audio descriptions created by Theatre Local and Picasso PRO for blind and low vision patrons.
Audio description, the art of talking pictorially, acts as a verbal lens making exhibits, theatre, film and other art events more accessible to patrons who are blind or partially sighted. Patrons use audio devices to hear trained describers talk about visual aspects that are vital to experiencing the works in their totality.
The Encampment by artists Thom Sokoloski and Jenny-Anne McCowan, June 8th -24th, at Fort York National Historic Site and co-commissioned with the City of Toronto, is a large scale installation comprised of 200 A-frame tents pitched on the grounds of Fort York. Conceived as a temporal village, each tent will contain an installation by one of 100 creative collaborators to represent an intimate aspect of the War of 1812’s civilian history. In this way the site becomes a metaphorical archeological dig, unearthing long-buried shards of human experience. The audio description will provide a description of the site’s pathways and features, plus a small sampling of tent installations.
Revered street artist Dan Bergeron explores themes of location, transformation, public space and its reclamation by those whom it excludes and ignores. ///RE-PLY\\\, June 8th -17th, is the artist’s latest response to these issues through a series of temporary site-specific sculptural installations situated along Parliament Street between St. Jamestown (Wellesley) and Regent Park (Dundas). Both abstract and concrete, the pieces will reference the overabundance of condo development throughout the city with a sly and playful eye.
S/N the third installation, located at Toronto Pearson Airport’s Terminal One, June 8-30th and created by Belgian artists LAb[au], is constructed from a large assortment of discarded technology and salvaged split-flaps; components from information displays that pre-date LED monitors in public spaces like airports and train stations. Arranged in a circular grid that allows visitors to stand in the centre, the flaps randomly rotate until the system identifies words which create auto-poetic sequences, inviting viewers to interpret their meaning.
Recorded descriptions will be available through luminato.com on the Accessibility page under Visitor Info and Luminato’s mobile app on June 4. Directions to the exhibit sites and background on the works can be found on luminato.com.
David DeGrow is a designer, manager, technician, actor, and pretty much anything in a theatre. Recent designs include The Rocky Horror Show (Randolph), Head a Tete (Theatre Direct), Oh My Irma (Theatre Passe Muraille), Roshni (Theatre Passe Muraille), and Almighty Voice and his Wife (Native Earth – National Tour)
For Theatre Local: Tell YOUR Story 2011