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The Secret Life of Suitcases

Comparing to Showcases of last years I attended (Cleveland, OH and Tampa, FL), I saw more performances for very young audience’, which may imply
1) less verbal or less text
2) more visual
3) more aural (or musical)

And I saw less US theatrical performances, which may imply IPAY prefers more European performances? Maybe….. But, still US, Canada, and Australia have big influences on IPAY.

For Showcases, I saw
1. The Secret Life of Suitcases by Ailie Cohen Puppet Maker (UK)
2. To Begin With … by Samsara Theatre (Canada)
3. Vertical Influence by le Patin Libre (Canada) 4. Jabber by Geordie Productions (Canada)
5. Mess by Caroline Horton & Co and China Plate (UK)
6. Nest by Theater De Spiegel (Belgium)

For Spotlight excerpts,
1. The Bockety World of Henry & Bucket (Ireland) 2. Suites Curieuses (Canada)
3. The Way Back Home (Denmark)
4. Theorem (US)

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To talk about the selection of Showcases, I am satisfied with choice by IPAY selection committee this year. As an international performing art market, IPAY presented broader tastes for US, Canada, or even Chinese presenters. (There were big Chinese population, and I expect more would come next coming year.)

So, what I learned?
1) I found my taste of theatre and its ingredients.
2) I kept talking to my heart ‘Be local to be global’
3) How I compose my piece….?

From Mary Overlie’s Six Viewpoints, she talks about 6 major ingredients for performances in post modern era – Story, Space, Emotion, Time, Movement, Shape. In her theory, the hierarchy of performance structure, which ‘Story’ had sit on the highest, but has collapsed (or still been collapsing) since the postmodern started. If creating a performance is like cooking, there was a certain recipe that had been given by Aristotle, which could be 3 cups of ‘Story’, 2 teaspoons of ‘Movement’ and 1 big spoon of ‘Emotion’, or he would just emphasize something ‘Spectacle~!’ with ‘Characters~!’. But, in postmodern performance, it could be cooked without ‘Story’ but only ‘Shape’. Or everything element should be added equally~!

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The Secret Life of Suitcases

In Showcases 2016, I saw some ‘more Shape’ or ‘more Emotion’ or ‘mainly movement’. And I found I like to taste or ‘Story’, ‘Emotion’, with using ‘Space & Shape’ such as Jabber from Canada.

<Serve Local>
Generalization can be dangerous, but somewhat worked in IPAY in last years I attended. In IPAY showcases, U.S. theaters seemed to like ‘spectacle’ that might come from Broadway musicals by performing in big theatre space with big audience using microphone. Canadians were similar, but had skills of making looking ‘fantasy-like’. Europeans seemed to care more about detail-oriented in design, story, character building … etc. Their performances were like their houses – small but historical and having many stories. Yes, in many ways, appearances of housing in each continent (or nations) look like appearances of theatre. North American individuals have big space while Europeans have to share their space with others horizontally. And, developing Asian countries should share space with others vertically (I wonder what kind of Asian performances would come later in IPAY.)

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One performance, Mess
was somewhat controversial I felt. It was the first show
had standing ovation, but only from
about 1- 2% of population of the whole
audience. (We had 500 people, and
about 5 people stood in the curtain call)
I saw an American showcase artist (he
is a Blues musician) ran out from the
theatre with a swearing word. He
seemed very annoyed. The creator is
now well known in UK, and got awarded
in some places. You and I agreed that
this would be called TYA in Europe, but not in the US TYA

To me, the show were a bit similar to what I saw in NYC in 2008 – experimental theatre that flourished in 70’s. Elizabeth LeCompte’s Woodster Group, or Richard Forman’s Ontological-

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Hysteric Theatre, or currently Neo-Futurist Chicago for about dealing with energy. Or, it would be a totally new piece. Yeah, maybe it could be a new style.

But, I kept talking to my heart, ‘Big Fire, … build a theatre for the children in Michigan not for the selection committee in IPAY, nor other people in the world.’ There must be preferred pieces in IPAY, but I am here in Michigan to serve people where I am.’ Be Local to be global. Think global to be local (I think I heard it from IPAY before …)

<How I compose>
That is my (or our) homework.
I didn’t want to be cheesy, but I don’t need to be afraid of my choices. We will see it soon.

Thanks for the time there again. See you soon.

Big Fire, Artist-in-Residence


Associate Artistic Director – Kelly Fielder, and Artist-in-Residence – Big Fire: at IPAY 2016, Montreal