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Harbourfront Centre Announces Winners of Prestigious Commissioning Awards

TORONTO, May 2, 2007—Harbourfront Centre today announced the five artist groups who will each receive a $20,000 Fresh Ground commissioning award. Presented to artist groups working in cross-disciplinary media, the Fresh Ground awards are the largest awards available to artists in Canada to assist with the production of new works. The Harbourfront Centre commissioning awards were introduced as part of the Centre’s 30th anniversary celebrations in 2004. The initial group of Fresh Ground award recipients has just completed the premiere presentations of their commissioned works.

The five commissioning awards include Canadian artists working in different artistic disciplines including theatre, dance, architecture, visual art, music and literature. The commissions awarded include: AfterImage, with thought-provoking material, showcases an eight person multitasking chorus cast, playing 21 characters, singing the score, and manipulating the large copper wire set that illuminates with electrified sparks; Blue Note, a performance piece inspired by a long-standing interest in choirs, not only tells a story about a group of individuals who come together to sing, but also explores site-specific staging and an interactive audience/performer relationship; Dance Marathon, a performance based upon the depression era dance marathon in which selected audience members are integrated into the role of ‘contestants,’ looks at contemporary issues such as physical and psychological endurance, interpersonal competition and intimacy; FishNet, a project that transforms socks into living breathing fish, is engaging in making “art of the possible,” creating work that communicates an idea and directly stimulates change in a real world setting; and The Hotel Project plays with audience expectations in surprising and disquieting ways, using the unusual possibilities of the installation site (a working hotel) and the extraordinary possibilities of digital video to examine privacy issues.

“As Canada’s leading Centre for contemporary cultural explorations, Harbourfront Centre is proud to provide these awards to assist in the production of new artistic works,” said William Boyle, Harbourfront Centre’s Chief Executive Officer. “Upon reviewing this year’s submissions we were tremendously excited at the depth of talent and phenomenal range of works proposed by leading artists from right across the country.”

Over 130 artist groups from across Canada submitted proposals for Fresh Ground awards. Submissions must be from an artist group headed by a Canadian, and involve various artistic disciplines in a cross-disciplinary collaboration to be premiered at Harbourfront Centre.

Fresh Ground new works commissioning awards are made possible by the generosity of several individual donors who have actively assisted in the creation of new Canadian art works: Peter Allen, Robert & Anne Marie Canning, Lionel F. Conacher & Joan Dea, Margaret & James Fleck, John G. Harkness, Michael & Sonja Koerner, Judy & Will Matthews, George E. Myhal, Sandra & Jim Pitblado, Anonymous, and a grant from Imperial Tobacco Canada Arts Fund.

The following collaborations will each receive a $20,000 award from the Harbourfront Centre Fresh Ground new works programme to assist in their creation and presentation at Harbourfront Centre in the 2008/2009 season:

AfterImage
Jillian Keiley (Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud): director
Pete Balkwill: puppeteer
Robert Chafe: playwright
Michael Crummey: author
Jason Hussey: metal sculptor
Jonathan Monro: composer
Tim Murphy: electrician

AfterImage is a short story by celebrated writer Michael Crummey. Set in the Newfoundland mining company town of Buchans, the story revolves around a family that is created and devastated by an accidental electrocution and an unexpected adoption. Building upon the key thematic elements of connectivity in families and conductivity in electricity, Newfoundland’s Artistic Fraud shapes a signature piece driven by an ensemble cast, an original choral music score and an electrified set. This structure contorts into all needed setting and properties, and in a decisively bold move for the company, illuminates with electrified sparks at key moments in the narrative.

Blue Note
Brian Quirt (Artistic Director of Nightswimming): dramaturg, director, playwright
Martin Julien: actor, writer
Naomi Campbell: producer
Chris Pommer: PLANT Architects Inc.
Lisa Rapoport: PLANT Architects Inc.
Mary Tremain: PLANT Architects Inc.

Blue Note, developed through Nightswimming—a leading dramaturgical theatre company in Toronto—is a collaboration between theatre artists, musicians and architects. Blue Note is a character study of a choir where each singer reveals their emotions through song, and as the audience watches them rehearse it slowly gains a picture of each person. The narrative threads accumulate and—like a piece of choral music—the whole story is only revealed once the individual voices are singing together. Nightswimming is creating Blue Note as a musical composition rather than a musical or a play, and believes that its presentation should take the
form of an installation rather than a traditional theatre piece. During the presentation the audience voyeuristically encounters the choir rehearsing. Nightswimming will remain responsible for the theatrical development of Blue Note, while PLANT Architects Inc. will examine spatial settings to allow the audience access to the performance, and also to contain the performance in a subtle metaphoric environment that supports the emotional and narrative content of the piece.

Dance Marathon
Richard Windeyer: creator, musician, media artist
Ciara Adams: vocalist, theatre performer
Bruce Barton: dramaturge, theatre writer
David Duclos: visual artist, set & lighting designer
Stephen O’Connell: creator, performer, experimental filmmaker
Sabrina Reeves: creator, writer, performer, photographer
Lucy Simic: creator, performer, writer, choreographer

bluemouth inc, the Toronto-based DORA award-winning performance collective, develops an interdisciplinary performance inspired by the depression era dance marathon. Historically, the economic success of the dance marathon relied on promoters hiring and embedding eccentrically skilled performance among the actual dance contestants to create unusual and exciting situations. Using this a model, bluemouth engages selected audience members in intimate and personal performance experience by pairing each one with a different performer, as if they were dance partners set within the larger performative framework of the dance marathon. As a social phenomenon, the dance marathon also serves as an appropriate point of departure for exploring some very contemporary issues, including physical and psychological endurance, interpersonal competition, self-destruction, deception, shyness and intimacy. These themes are used as starting points for creatively exploring the dynamics of one-to-one audience-performer relationships.

FishNet: The Great Lakes Craft and Release Project
Claire Ironside: project lead
Angela Iarocci: main collaborator
Jane Howard Baker & Inner City Angels: artist liason, collaborator
Kim Heppler: project administrator, collaborator
Andrew Hladkyj: web designer, collaborator
Marc David Dejardins: Great Lakes biologist MNR, collaborator
Marina Dempster: artist
Bernice Hune: Inner City Angels artist
Amelia Jimenez: Inner City Angels artist
Mary Kim: artist
Tai Kim McPhail: artist
Charmaine Lurch: Inner City Angels artist
Judy Pisano: Inner City Angels artist
Marsha Stonehouse: Inner City Angels artist
Louse Thut: artist
Magda Trzaski: artist
Allycia Uccello: Inner City Angels artist
Paul Walty: Inner City Angels artist
Magda Wojtyra: artist


FishNet: The Great Lakes Craft and Release Project combines and coalesces the creative talents of over 3600 students, educators, artists and designers for the purposes of exploring and engaging in the multiple themes of sustainability, open source collaboration and activism, DIY (‘do-it-yourself’) empowerment and data visualization, strengthening the ties that bind us together as a community living within the Great Lakes bioregion and beyond. In this way, FishNet identifies absence or neglect as the creative basis for a subtle form of protest art—one that provokes an engaging solution.

FishNet is a two-part project comprised of a ‘craft’ phase and a ‘release’ phase. It is to be presented to the public in a variety of forms including a project website, content on other websites, class-room activities, a public exhibition, and as an invitation to other schools within the Great Lakes bioregion to undertake similar projects. The heart of the ‘crafting’ phase of the project involves 35 Toronto-based elementary schools each making a regionally specific school of ‘sock/textile’ fish, as well as researching and sharing information about their species on the FishNet project website. As the epicenter of the ‘release’ phase of the project, Harbourfront Centre metaphorically functions as a fish hatchery, setting in motion the ‘release’ of approximately 3500 sock/textile fish that underwrite the restocking of native species and habitat restoration within the Great Lakes. Of these 3500 fish, approximately 100 are be designated as cultural envoys relaying the project to other Canadian and American schools bordering one of the lakes. Finally, each of the participating schools is given a school comprised of fish crafted by all other TDSB students.

The Hotel Project
Christopher House (Artistic Director of Toronto Dance Theatre): concept, choreography, co-direction
Eda Holmes: dramaturgy, co-direction
Nico Stagias: video design
Philip Strong: music, sound

The Hotel Project is an hour-long performance/video/sound installation on a hotel floor of guest rooms. Audience members are free to enter and exit at any time during this cycle; the event will continue non-stop in a three-hour loop. The audience is placed in the position of eavesdroppers and voyeurs, constantly confronted with questions about privacy. They themselves play a role in the action via live-feed surveillance cameras, and have the freedom to create their individual theatrical experiences by wandering from room to room through an overlapping series of dramatic encounters.

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Media Contact:
Linda Liontis
416-973-4381
lliontis@harbourfrontcentre.com
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