In preparation for our experimental creation lab inFORMING CONTENT, workshop leader and Associate Artist Deborah Pearson tells us what she's been up to, and what we can look forward to at this year's workshop!
It's been some time since you were last in Toronto. Any new projects to tell us about?
Since I saw Volcano last I finished and began touring my newest piece, The Future Show, which is a monologue I read out to an audience from a binder, that details everything that is going to happen to me in the future, starting from the end of the performance and going up until I die. I have to rewrite the show for every performance, since all of the material that refers to the events that will happen immediately following the performance move from Future to Past as soon as I finish speaking. The final third of the show always stays the same, but the rest of the show is in constant flux, moving further and further forward into my future. I have now performed The Future Show in the UK, Canada, Ireland, the USA and Belgium, and I will be performing it as a double bill with Tim Crouch and Andy Smith's newest show this at Culturgest in Lisbon.
I'm also heading straight from inFORMING CONTENT to Melbourne, Australia, for the Next Wave Festival, where I will be testing out a new project called Drifting Right. Drifting Right is a conversation between myself and a conservative voter, which takes place in a canoe on a river. We co-pilot the canoe, and during the ride I try to figure out why on earth they (and so many other western people) are voting conservative. At the end of the festival I'll be hosting a town hall style discussion, featuring the footage of these canoe rides, and my co-pilots, exploring the rightwards drift in Western politics.
How do you think this year's inFORMING CONTENT will differ (if at all) from previous years?
Every inFORMING CONTENT is different, specifically because of the line-up of team leaders (the artists) and academics who participants get to work with. The workshop is really theirs - myself, the JHI and Volcano just set up the framework that allows the magic to happen. The JHI will also be hosting a different theme for the academics research this year, so though I'm sure the event will have the same feeling of possibility and experimentation as in past years, the content and the forms will be entirely different. I'm really excited to see the results. I can't predict how it will all turn out, which is the best part of this kind of intensive workshop.
What is it about inFORMING CONTENT that makes it so unique/different from other creation workshops?
inFORMING CONTENT is the only creation workshop that I've ever heard of that acts as a meaningful exchange between artistic and academic research. Scholars at the JHI give a presentation on their research, and then a group of artists create a site specific piece based on those lectures, in the same offices where the scholars usually do their research. There really is nothing else like it. It's an opportunity for academia and art to have a fast but meaningful conversation with each other.
Anything else you want to share about this year's workshop?
I've recently started my own journey into academia - I'm currently in the second year of a practice-based PhD at Royal Holloway in the UK, where I also teach a practical class to first year students on devising theatre. Both the contemporary performance and academic scenes in the UK are impressively experimental. That said - I don't know of another academic institution that would consistently take the open minded, and up-for-experimentation approach that the Jackman Humanities Institute has taken every year with inFORMING CONTENT. They offer our artists and their academics such a unique experience through hosting this workshop every year. It's one of the highlights of my year, both as someone who is interested in theatre-making and in academic research.
inFORMING CONTENT is a FREE experimental creation lab taking place May 2 - 4 at the Jackman Humanities Institute. For more info, go to our website.