On Monday I was invited to the press conference for the Festival TransAmériques. It took place in the studios for ARTV at Places des Arts, a weird little room that was a far cry from where they used to do it (l’Agora des Sciences at UQAM). I don’t know if their budget had been cut or if they had spontaneously decided to shake things up. But either way the room was jam packed.
I’m torn between loving press conferences and hating them. I love them because they make you feel special. Press kits have all sorts of information that you otherwise wouldn’t know. In Montreal the press conferences tend to offer free food and drink. I hate press conferences because there are more significant and better ways to feel special. Once you’ve been to a bunch of press conferences on the same subject you tend to find mistakes and holes in the press kit. And the free food and drink isn’t always the best.
Anyhows, this one was notable because (as I’ve mentioned) it was in a new venue. They also couldn’t give me a press kit, and the food and drink consisted of bottled orange juice and cupcakes (they also were serving coffee, tea, bottled water and bottled apple juice).
Despite my love/hate relationship with press conferences one thing that you always get at a press conference is a lot of “blah, blah, blah.”
Sorry about the camera shake. I really wish people would learn that reading from a script is incredibly bad and completely stultifying. It gets worse when they don’t really have much to say.
Since I don’t really follow Francophone Quebecois Theatre, I had no idea (and since I didn’t get a press kit, still don’t know) who Olivier Choinière is or what he has done. But apparently it’s a big deal that the Festival TransAmériques is re-staging his Chante avec moi. If I caught it correctly, it’s a play with 50 performers. For whatever reason M. Choinière decided to recite all of their names during the press conference. It only occurred to me about halfway through the list how bizarre that was, so I only caught about the last third on camera. Sorry.
But then, every now and again you get something that makes it all worthwhile to be at the press conference.
Getting to hear a choreographer explain the stuff behind something they are making, five months in advance of when you’re going to get to see it, is kind of cool. Thankfully I had my wits about me enough that I was able to film her whole speech (again, sorry for the camera shake, you’d be amazed at how heavy a 20 oz. camera can get when you’re holding it away from you body for 4 minutes and 19 seconds).
But this one got even better.
They decided that they’d get Bernard Martin and Karina Champoux to perform. I’m looking forward to trying to memorize this little bit and then see if it actually makes it into the performance.
Also, if Danièle Desnoyers happens to come across this. (If you didn’t watch the video or can’t understand French – basically her dance is about nightlife in Montreal in the 40s and 50s. She’s much more nuanced than that, which is why I filmed her doing the talking. The title translates as Beneath the Skin, The Night) Besides Montreal Confidential by Al Palmer there is also Montreal by Gaslight by Anonymous which covers much of the same material but from a perspective sixty years earlier.
Then because press conferences are held for very specific purposes, I think that the information they wanted to get out to the public was this (remember, I didn’t get a press kit): This year’s festival starts on the 24th of May. It ends on June 9, 2012. Five shows have been announced. Two different ones by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s company Rosas (pity that they couldn’t have coordinated the festival with Beyoncé’s performance in town, that would have been awesome!) Cesena and En Atendant, On the Concept of the Face, regarding the Son of God, by someone I have never heard of and the previously mentioned performances by Olivier Choinière and Danièle Desnoyers.
Tickets are on sale for the five shows as of January 30th. The Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker show at Place des Arts (the only show for which I asked about prices) tops out at $61 plus taxes plus service charges. But when I asked to see what seats were available it looked like most of the kick-ass seats had been held back for subscribers who will be getting their crack at the end of March. Apparently there is a 10% discount if you buy your tickets now. But I also imagine that there is some sort of discount if you subscribe, and I would guess that it might be even larger than 10%.
And in conclusion, if you’d like to read/see/hear what the other media outlets had to say about the press conference click on the links.