So you may have seen that Time Magazine named Donald Trump its 2016 Person of the Year. This announcement was greeted with vocal condemnation and almost equally as vocal reminders that this isn’t an endorsement but rather an acknowledgement of the cultural and political impact Trump had in the US and around the world.

Given the fact that Time was going primarily on mainstream media narrative, Trump winning makes perfect sense. He did dominate the news coverage in 2016. If you have a problem with the result, then you should have a problem with the way the corporate media filter operates.

Instead of complaining, though, let’s simply take away that filter and see what we get. Forget the Box is going to name its own Person of the Year for 2016!

Like Time, we’re looking for the individual or group of connected individuals that had the biggest impact on our culture in the past year. Unlike Time, we’re not limiting our view of cultural impact to what is represented in the mainstream press. Social and indie media play just as big a role in our decision.

We’re giving everyone a chance to vote and are starting with some likely choices. As we’re based in Montreal, some are local and Canadian. We’ve also included Trump as a choice to be fair. If your choice is not on the list, simply state it in the comments below and we’ll add it to the options.

We do reserve the right to reject suggestions. We also reserve the right to make an editorial decision and give Person of the Year to someone other than the top vote getter, while still acknowledging who got the most votes. We probably won’t do that, but we will if the winner is Harambe (I mean, seriously, internet).

Anyways, here’s the poll, you have a week to vote. Then we’ll proudly announce FTB’s 2016 Person of the Year:

Who should be FTB's Person of the Year?

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Welcome back to Friday Film Review. Alright so it isn’t Friday but from here on out I will aim to have these film reviews on a weekly basis every Friday for your weekend viewing pleasure.

For my first review, I’ve chosen the film Network from 1976 directed by Sidney Lumet and brilliantly penned by Paddy Chayefsky. I have chosen the film mostly because of it’s extreme relevance to today and this past American election. It is about a madman who, perpetuated by the media to boost ratings, rants about the current troubles of the times without filter on live television. Sound familiar?

Howard Beale (portrayed by Peter Finch) is an aging newsman from the fictional television network UBS, who is going through a mental breakdown. Recently widowed and about to lose his job due to sagging ratings, Beale goes on television still drunk from the night before and announces that he will blow his brains out on live television in a week’s time.

During Beale’s final days on air, he delivers a series of on-air monologues mostly about the “BS” nature of existence and hypocrisies of American society all culminating in his messianic exclamation; “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Upon seeing this, Diana (portrayed by Faye Dunaway), the heartless, cold and calculated executive from UBS’ programming department decides that they should keep Howard on air and exploit his prophetic visions, dubbing him a “mad prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our time” at the behest of his friend Max (portrayed by William Holden), the head of the news department. Hesitant at first, the devious and equally cold corporate hatchet man Frank (portrayed by Robert Duvall) agrees to Diane’s proposal, seeing that it will boost ratings.

This all comes to a standstill, when Beale catches the eye of CCA president (the board that governs UBS) Arthur Jensen (portrayed by Ned Beatty), when he reveals and ultimately ruins a deal between the CCA and a Saudi Arabian conglomerate. Upon discovering this, Jensen invites Beale to his ominous boardroom and gives to Beale one of the best and most thunderous monologues of film history and all in his second and final appearance in the film.

At the end of the monologue Beale asks why he is the one to deliver this message. Jensen’s reply? “Because you’re on television dummy.”

Beale leaves with Jensen’s bleak message that essentially nothing matters but the almighty dollar and to accept the current state of corporatocracy. Preaching, Jensen’s depressing message puts Beale into a ratings slump once again, not liking the “new” madman, the network decides to dispose of him in a way that is truly appropriate for outrageous television.

If we look more closely into this film, we can posit that a lot of what Chayefsky wrote has come true. Corporate structures own more media outlets than they ever have before and the mad prophet archetype built up by the media speaking of corporate good existing with Trump didn’t start with him. It also exists with people like Glenn Beck and is even further perpeutated on social media by people like the rabid and overly-emotional Alex Jones of Infowars. In this, Chayefsky’s writing was way beyond its time.

The film is a swath of thoughtful and powerful monologues given by equally powerful actors with interesting stories and themes, to boot. I didn’t touch on a lot them here but there is also powerful commentary on the convergence of politics and the media with communist leader Laureen Hobbs meeting with Diana to create a series to exploit the ultra-leftist Ecumenical Liberation Front, led by the Great Ahmed Khan, to boost ratings. Their relationship begins with this memorable introduction:

There is also the relationship between Max and Diana, revealing Diana as the result of a generation that has grown up on television. In their final scene Max describes her as “television incarnate.”

In short, Network is a clever (at times too clever) and excellently written film and it’s not hard to see why it won four Oscars with performances as amazing as Peter Finch’s and Faye Dunnaway’s. The sharp, satirical wit of Chayefsky really comes out with this flick. If you want to stay in and treat yourself to a dark satire on the hypocrisies of our time look no further than this well-aged cinematic magnum opus.

Featured image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and United Artists

Well December is upon us and you know what that means… you guessed it, metal bands raising money for Christmas charities! We’ve also got some great local and Canadian artists coming to town and for those who are into creating music, there’s a really awesome workshop taking place on Friday you should know about.

Let’s get started shall we…

MTLHC Christmas Benefit Party

Friday night,  bands from Montreal’s punk and metal communities will be coming together with Northern Sound Records to put on a show where the “profits will go into buying toys for the kids.” Bands on the bill include Harriers, Nuke, Gazm, Boundaries, Kennedy and Front Commun.

They’re also accepting canned goods at the event, if you bring a can then the cover charge is ten instead of fifteen bucks. Either way your contributions to this event will be going to a good cause. Also let’s not forget there’s six bands starting early and ending late who will be ready to give you a kick ass show!

MTLHC Christmas Benefit Party plays La Vitrola 4602 Boulevard St-Laurent, Friday, December 2nd, 7:30pm (Doors at 7:00), $15, (or $10 with a canned good).

Abigail Lapell + Dana Sipos

There’s no excuse if you miss Toronto based singer/songwriter Abigail Lapell who is in town this week for back to back shows, Thursday at Bad Lunch and Friday at Le Cagibi (where she will be joined by another great Canadian folk artist Dana Sipos). So take your pick for which night works best and come on down!

Rooted in traditional folk music,  Abigail’s sound still speaks to the modern world with a new an unique spin on the genre while still respecting the music’s roots. Early in 2017, Abigail will be coming out with a new ten song album entitled Hide Nor Hare so these shows will feature some fresh tracks that should get you excited for this upcoming release.

 Abigail Lapell and Dana Sipos play Le Cagibi, 5490 Boulevard St-Laurent, Friday, December 2nd, 8:00pm.

 

Chronolith + Wolk  + Ricardo the Fabulous

Everyone’s favourite dive Barfly will putting on an evening of metal music promoted by Grimey MTL this Saturday featuring Chronolith, Wolk and Ricardo the Fabulous. With the cover charge for this show being only five bucks and with Barfly’s well known “lowest prices on the Main” drink menu, this is certainly the most student friendly event of the weekend.

(I’d just like to put a disclaimer, Barfly doesn’t actually go around saying they have the lowest prices. Like don’t go in asking for a price match policy with some special you found at Bifteck just because someone on the internet said they had the lowest prices).

 Chronolith, Wolk and Ricardo the Fabulous play Barfly 4062a Boulevard St-Laurent, Saturday, December 3rd, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:30), $5, at the door only.

 

RAC Workshop with Steve Baughman + Mauricio Iragorri

The last “show” this week isn’t for music fans but instead a great opportunity for people creating music to meet and learn from two of the best mixing and mastering experts in the field today. Recording Arts Canada will be hosting an event here in Montreal on Friday where you can meet Steve Baughman and Mauricio Iragorri and learn their tricks of the trade.

In order to attend you need to sign up and we’ve been warned that space is very limited so you might want to get on it right away! There’s also a session on Saturday in Toronto for those living in or travelling to that area.

* Featured image of Chronolith via Facebook

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

November’s Candyass Cabaret was special one, for sure. Glad I made it. If you missed it, you missed a great show, but you can still catch the next one (more on that later).

It was the Montreal burlesque show’s 50th edition. With a new show, a new lineup and rotating hosts the third Friday of every month, the Candyass crew has been quite busy.

Emcee Ryan G. Hinds
Emcee Ryan G. Hinds

Their anniversary show at Cafe Cleopatre (where else) featured performers who have been part of it since the beginning such as show founder Velma Candyass, Roxy Hardon, Diane Labelle and Nat King Pole. They were joined by performers who became part of the Candyass Club along the way like Jacy Lafontaine, Damiana Dolce, Lili Lolipop and Pyrometheus. There were also visiting guests from Buffalo, New York’s Stripteasers Burlesque: Cat Sinclair (aka FTB columnist Cat McCarthy), Juicy Lucy and Fifi Laflea.

The Buffalo trio, wearing Pussy Riot masks and carrying protest signs, reminded everyone that burlesque performance and the very act of removing (most of) your clothing on stage for the sake of art is much more than sexy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite hot, especially when done by these performers, but it’s also a political act.

This, of course, was the first Candyass Cabaret since the Trump victory south of the border. Emcee Ryan G. Hinds also briefly mentioned the political climate the show was being performed in, but kept the evening squarely focused on the theme of the night, which was musical theatre.

He even sang a few tunes himself: Coming Up Roses from Gypsy and You’ll Be Back from Hamilton. All part of his main job, keeping the audience entertained and happy during acts like a good emcee should.

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(l-r) Velma Candyass and Roxy Hardon (photo Argaive)

On a personal note, Hinds was quite generous with the questions when he called audience members up to the stage to answer musical theatre trivia. I placed third (having placed first in the audience dance contest at the previous Candyass Cabaret). Full disclosure: The Music Man is NOT my favourite musical, I was in it in high school and it’s the first one that popped into my head when asked. I’m actually partial to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Wicked.

Speaking of singing (as we were before that little diversion), the vocal highlight of the evening has got to be Roxy Hardon’s rendition of Nowadays from Chicago. Deceptively soft at first, then revealing the true power of the tune.

Of course, this led to her being joined on stage by Velma Candyass, who had already performed earlier, for a raucous final…wait, Roxy and Velma? Chicago? Oh now I get it, only took me 50 shows.

It only took Pyrometheus a few moments to get down and dirty with his chimney sweeping brush to the tune of Chim Chim Cheree. Yes, the song from Mary Poppins. Instead of the film version, though, he opted for a lesser known but quite interesting Duke Ellington rendition. Bonus points for not using the Dick Van Dyke version and setting up so many obvious puns.

jacy-lafontaine-candyass-cabaret
Jacy Lafontaine

Then there was Jacy Lafontaine dancing to a song from Sweeny Todd. Making a musical about a murderous barber sexy is not an easy feat, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

Lili Lolipop had everyone Singing in the Rain. No need to bring your umbrella, she brought her own! And Sondheim wasn’t left out as Diane Labelle danced to Tintinnabula from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers isn’t from a musical per se, but, as Hinds pointed out in his introduction, the moment Barbara Streisand is involved, it counts. Nat King Pole in the role of Neil Diamond and Damiana Dolce as Streisand offered a very funny and even sweet modern take this classic love duet.

There was also cake!

Sounds like a great show, right? Sad you missed it? You should be…but fret not, dear reader. FTB is giving you a chance to win a pair of tickets to the next one!

To participate, just sign up for the FTB E-mail Newsletter list right here. We’ll send you a digest of some of our best content each week and also, on Monday, December 12th, we’ll send our subscribers info on how to enter for the draw (so you should sign up by then).

The show is on Friday, December 16th at Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd floor, Doors 9pm, Show 10pm. This one has a holiday theme and features Diane Labelle, Nat King Pole, Damiana Dolce, Roxie Hardon, Mary Sisuei & Golem de Lave, Lili Lolipop & more! Plus Classy Claire is back with a tasty selection of rumballs.

Even if you don’t win the tickets, trust me, it’s worth your while to check it out. Only $10 at the door!

* All photos by Denis-André Desjardins except where otherwise noted

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its last November edition. Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Beaux Dégâts #45 – Tap Water Jam MTL + Ella Grave showcase

Beaux Dégâts is a time-honoured Montreal tradition that combines improvisation in musical and fine arts to create a unique organic event space. From their Facebook page:

“Beaux Dégâts tries to make a parallel between the reality of street artists and the Fine Arts. It is here to bring back what has been ignored for too long by art institutions and return to the street artist’s reality: the importance of community, sharing, accessibility and uniqueness.

For two hours, six teams of artists will improvise 8ft X 8ft murals on different themes given on the night. Each team will have to research and find visual references to create a production in front of public. All mediums except spray cans are allowed. During the evening, the public will vote for it’s favorite mural using their empty Pabst beer cans. The team that will collect the most cans will win the right to paint over the other artists work if they wish.”

Beaux Dégâts #45: Live Improvised Painting and Music – Wednesday, Nov 30, Foufounes Electriques, 8pm-1am. Entrance: 5$

The Crossing presented by Cinema Politica Concordia

Cinema Politica is a media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. It is volunteer-run and all screenings are by donation.

 

The film that Cinema Politica is screening this Monday, The Crossing, “takes us along on one of the most dangerous journeys of our time with a group of Syrians fleeing war and persecution, crossing a sea, two continents and five countries, searching for a home to rekindle the greatest thing they have lost – Hope.”

The Crossing screening @ Cinema Politica Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard W, Room H-110, Monday, 7pm. Entrance by Donation

50/50 presented at Mainline Theatre

50/50 is a novel concept; a half-scripted, half-improvised live comedy show! This show was a major hit at Just For Laughs 2016 and will not be back for four months – definitely catch this if you can at the Mainline Theatre.

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Coming off a sellout show at OFF-JFL/Zoofest this past July, 50/50 returns with a new cast blending talented actors and hilarious comedians. In each of the show’s nine scenes, a prepared actor who has learned lines off a real script is paired with an improviser who has no prior knowledge of what the actor has rehearsed.

50/50 @ Mainline Theatre, 3997 boul St-Laurent. Wednesday, November 30th, 8pm. $15 (students/seniors/QDF Members $12)

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Panelists Cat McCarthy and Der Kosmonaut discuss political art following the Trump victory and the legacy of the late, great Leonard Cohen with host Jason C. McLean.

News Roundup Topics: Pence at Hamilton, Montreal Police spying on journalists, historic building burned, Sarkozy losing power and the International Infringement Conference.

Panelists:

Cat McCarthy: Burlesque performer, artist and FTB contributor

Der Kosmonaut: Spoken word artist, author and blogger

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagah (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Sunday, November 20, 2016 in Montreal

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

I know that (US) Thanksgiving is based on the colonization and degradation of indigenous people and the murder of innocent turkeys. Nothing has changed, in fact it has only gotten more blatant.

Currently Native American protesters are being drenched with water cannons in sub zero temperatures, detained in dog cages, and other inhumane atrocities in North Dakota defending their water, defending their people from the tyrannical American government. I see Barack Obama putting a medal of freedom over Ellen Degeneras’ neck and cry at the nice words he says about diversity and being free and LGBT in our country but still in the back of my mind wonder why he hasn’t tried harder to end the disaster in Standing Rock?

In Buffalo NY there are proposals involving a ban on conversion therapy.

I love the movie But, I’m a Cheerleader because it was a satire, it showed the absurdity of changing a person back to a “normal” sexuality. People are born gay, straight, transgender, and so many in betweens and there is nothing you can do to change their beautiful diversity. It is disgusting torture.

Mike Pence is pure evil, as are all of the white supremacist butt nuggets that Trump is putting into power. I heard today that he appointed several women, these chicks must really be groovy to align with the pussy grabbing cheeto hate monger.

What is happening in this world? The rise in rape and hate crimes will be monumental.

It is hard to give thanks when it seems the apocalypse is now. It is hard to just suck it up and celebrate, like nothing is wrong.

I have family members that proudly voted for Trump and I have to invite them into my home and share a meal with them. By voting for him you made life more dangerous, you voted for racism, sexism, and bigotry. You are taking away civil liberties and building a wall of ignorance and greed around yourselves. I am embarrassed to sit here and watch you choke on your white privilege.

Regardless, my dinner table is still going to remain all inclusive. Everyone is invited. It is a safe place for all people. Only love reigns in my home. I will fight your ignorance by educating and loving you.

I am thankful that (for the time being, who knows what dark fate is in store for us) I have freedom of speech, my art remains bold and uncensored.

I am thankful for my blood and extended family of activists and fellow free spirits.

I am thankful for my health, for my ability to change the world with my words, art, and voice.

I am thankful for my cats, their cuddles cure anything.

I am thankful for music, for riot grrl rants, for poetry, for the expulsion of rage into art and positivity.

I am thankful for other people’s thoughts, for the ability to learn from my mistakes, to live with kindness and resolution.

I am thankful for our right to protest. No matter how bad it gets we need to stand tall and take back our world, letting them know that evil will not win.

I am thankful for this blog, Forgetthebox has allowed me to express myself freely for the world to read, I have gotten other opportunities and have made so many smart friends 🙂

revolution-boots
photo by Velma Candyass from the World Infringement Conference

Montreal- city of strange adventures. Random stories of our adventures included but are not limited to: A man wearing a full vinyl gimp suit with addidas sneakers. Then there was the masseuse wearing a leather jock strap and the best part is that he only spoke in puns, a dom who speaks in puns, he is now dubbed The Punisher.

My favorite moment was fat fuck poutine squirrel. I looked over to see just the ass and tail of a giant chubby squirrel sticking out of a garbage bag, he then pulled out a styrofoam container, hulked it open, and demolished the rest of a poutine, I could hear him eating, it was the cutest thing I had ever seen! The Leonard Cohen Memorial, all of the incredible street art, and a two story vintage shop with a vegetarian cafe were the other cherries on this cupcake of a vacation.

The Montreal Infringement Festival was incredible as always. I had a show everyday I was there. The Rusty Shuttle was an amazing new venue, I love the underground loft DIY artspaces of the world. Barfly was punk rock brilliance, I thoroughly enjoyed being sandwiched between two Folk Punk bands. Everyone in this city is so sexy! I couldn’t even handle it.

World Infringement Conference photo by Donovan King
World Infringement Conference photo by Donovan King

I was honored to be part of the World Infringement Conference, my presentation was spur of the moment. We had planned on showing our art work, but unfortunately hanging did not happen, so I decided to turn my presentation time into a guerrilla art gallery. We donned our Pussy Riot masks and I talked about the beauty and necessity of free and accessible art.

The Buffalo Infringement Festival is an artistic Utiopia, a perfect climate for social change and exploration. We have no idea what Fringe is here.

I recalled a performance during last year’s fest where a fire dancer named Clinton said to the crowd, “How many of you had your first show ever during infringement?” So many people raised their hands and clapped. I cried.

There are a zillion moments that justify why I volunteer my time with this festival, that was the one that will make me only work harder. To know that I am helping people express themselves for the first time, creating life long artists, adding to the collective culture of humanity.

Find things to be thankful for in spite of adversity! Be inspired by the wrong, make it right with your art and actions, protect the person next to you, make change in your community and globally, connect with others and join the revolution. This is how great punk music is born. Be the change and hold your head up high. Happy Thanksgiving!

infringement besties

* Featured image by Agraive

Back in the 60s, North America was beginning to experience new and revolutionary kinds of music. From the Beatles to the Animals, to the Who, the British music scene made its way to the continent with fervor and vigor. This mass musical migration was dubbed the British Invasion. There now seems to be a new country slowly invading the indie music scene in our continent, the small 320 000 person nation of Iceland.

Though this country might have about 63 and a half million fewer people than the UK, do not let its small stature deceive you, for what it lacks in population it makes up in musical talent!

For a while, the only artist that most people knew coming out of Iceland was probably Bjork (and maybe Sigur Ross). Her unique and celestial voice earned her a lot of fame in North America and she was named one of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time by the Rolling Stone.

In 2011, with the release of their first album My Head is an Animal however, Of Monsters and Men began to change the singular image of the Icelandic music scene into one that was based around indie folk rock with hits like Mountain Sound and Little Talks.

Now, following Of Monsters and Men, new artists have hit the indie scene with unique and passionate tracks that have begun to make headway into North America.

One such artist worth noting is Junius Meyvant. His soothing sounds and soulful voice is reminiscent of some sort of modern Motown. It’s a funky brand of indie folk with mellow head-bopping melodies.

The sounds of his newest album Floating Harmonies are both simple and complex and are full of rich instrumentals and tight rhythms in each track. Below are two of the songs I’ve selected from the album.

Hailslide from Meyvant’s new album

Neon Experience 

Another artist from Iceland who has gained more acclaim than most these days is Ásgeir, based in Reykjavik. Only 24, Ásgeir has already gained global acclaim, having had hits on worldwide charts. His melodic folk pop, is similar to Meyvant’s but is more sombre.

Instead of choosing one of Ásgeir’s originial songs, I have selected a cover of a Nirvana song to showcase his versatility. This version is chilling and powerful and might even shake Cobain himself.

Cover of Heart-Shaped Box originally by Nirvana

A few months ago, a friend of mine went to Iceland and picked up a record on vinyl for me,  Lay Low‘s Talking About the Weather. Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, known by her stage name Lay Low has actually been around since 2006.

Although I have been trying to avoid the comparison, her voice is reminiscent of Bjork, the pitch and tone specifically. The music from this album is calming, something you’d listen to while it’s raining outside but it can also be sombre and serious and exudes several complex emotions.

One of Those Nights from Talking About the Weather  

The beauty of these Icelandic artists and their music scene is that it’s mostly experimental and they aren’t afraid to do things their own way. This has been true since Bjork and this is what makes it so interesting and exciting. Reykjavik is a hotbed of great indie music and will be for years to come.

* Featured image of Lay Low via grapevine.is

The Candyass Cabaret: Shimmies and Showtunes is at the Cafe Cleopatre (1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd floor) this Friday November 18th, doors at 9pm show at 10pm. It features burlesque, drag and other theatrical entertainment. $10 at the door. I will be there with my fellow performers naked for the world to see.

I have been active with the Buffalo Infringement Festival and was very inspired to go to the Infringe Mecca of Montreal to see where it all began. Two years ago, Fifi Laflea and I made the trip for the Montreal Infringement Festival and we had no idea the honor it would be to perform with the Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatre.

candyass

Being in the dressing room even felt special. I wondered what incredible creatures from times past got ready in front of these very mirrors? I truly cannot believe that special place was almost a thing of the past.

In a world over saturated with sex it is a challenge to truly titilate someone with art. Burlesque is my life. It is an old tradition of theatrical bawdiness with blatant political intentions.

A major highlight of my career was a the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival where (dressed in horrible white trash drag) I pulled several American flags out of a very large glittery plushy penis to the song “America, F*ck Yeah!” during that Candyass show, with Fifi Laflea as my beautiful assistant. It was definitely a statement about how the rest of the world views Americans and our culture of waste and over privilege.

It is even more important now to be a sort of cultural ambassador with my art due to the election of that pompous Cheeto nightmare. I have a responsibility to show the world that not all Americans are like him, not all of us support hate, most of us are scared, we are angry. We are going to speak out and stand up. Art is the first line.

I asked Velma Candyass, world renowned burlesque performer, a few questions. She is also one of the ringleaders that helped to save the Cafe Cleopatre from demolition. She also does incredible tours of the Montreal Red Light District with Donovan King, and runs her own burlesque troupe The Dead Doll Dancers. She is an absolutely incredible performer, a super babe, my burlesque crush, and a total sweetheart.

candyass-cabaret-3Wow, I am very impressed that this is the 50th show! How do you feel about 50 Candyass Caberet shows?

Im shocked at having produced this much under the Candyass concept. It’s a lot of work but I genuinely enjoy the challenges involved in managing a show and herding the artists

What was the theme of the first show?

If my foggy brain recalls, it was not too long after the victory saving the Cleopatra venue. So it was a ‘welcome to the cabaret” theme with lots of variety arts, drag queens and burlesque with a european cabaret flavour.

Why did you choose a Showtunes theme for this one?

Why showtunes? Why not? It was a theme that several of my regular artists really wanted to have and since I hadn’t featured musical theatre type acts in awhile, I felt was a great idea. No matter what, everyone has at least one musical they like, so therefore the artist should be able to develop an act based on an old favourite .

What are your favorite musicals?

I personally like Chicago, Cabaret, Avenue Q, Contact, Wicked, West Side Story and The Producers .

I know a lady never tells her age, but how long have you been doing burlesque?

Oh gawd a long time. Long enough to see the transitions in the styles of burlesque going on. And some of the Legends passing on.

What is your biggest inspiration?

Oh gosh, I would say The Velvet Hammer Burlesque was a definite aha moment along with Le Scandal Cabaret. It was all bubbling underground and dynamic.

candyass-cabaret-5

Who is your burlesque crush/icon?

Tiffany Carter and April March are my burlesque crush/icons. Completely different styles and eras yet wonderful legends to learn from.

What are your thoughts on the political importance and impact of burlesque?

It’s 2016 and a woman/person stripping naked and in control of their bodies is still a big deal as evidenced by some of the crazy things going on in the world. Political burlesque acts are an important expression and, just like the court jester, tell the stories that wouldn’t get told otherwise .

What are your thoughts on the Infringement Festival?

Infringement festivals provide a place for artists to create and have their say. Its getting more and more difficult to be able to afford to participate in many of the large(r) mainstreamed festival and this provides a DIY experience to develop one’s skills.

* Photos (except for backstage shot) by Argaive

* Candyass Cabaret: Shimmies and Showtunes – Saturday, November 18th, Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 Boul St-Laurent, 10pm (Doors 9pm). $10

This week we’ve got an assortment of great local shows with very affordable ticket prices covering a wide variety of music genres, so whoever you are we’ve got a little something for you. Let’s not waste any time, here are some show ideas for your to think about when planning your weekend.

Static Gold + Kayko

On Thursday night Quai des Brumes will be fired up as two great electro funk bands, Montreal’s own Static Gold and Toronto’s Kayko will be hitting the stage ready to blow the roof off. Seriously kids, this is the show where you need to make sure to bring your dancing shoes because there will be no wallflowers and no exceptions made for those who want to sit down.

Both these acts have recently released singles that drip with 70’s nostalgia while still feeling fresh and making you want to hear more tracks, something they’ll most certainly give you on Thursday. We couldn’t decide which one you should listen to, so here’s both!

 Static Gold and Kayko play Quai des Brumes, 4481 rue St-Denis, Thursday, November 17th, 8:00pm.

Lakes of Canada + Motel Raphaël + Krief 

On Saturday night, Indie Montreal will be hosting an evening featuring three great local acts headlined by Lakes of Canada, a band that seems to grow their sound with every successive step they take. Recently they released a live acoustic album (always a gutsy move) Transgressions Acoustic which has given their sound a whole new texture and feel.

Joining them will be indie folk pop trio (and unofficial winners of the award for best local band name ever) Motel Raphaël as well as singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Patrick Krief. I know it’s hard for some of you plat-rats to be on time but do try for this one, the lineup is not to be missed from top to bottom.

Lakes of Canada, Motel Raphaël and Krief play La Sala Rossa 4848 Boulevard St-Laurent, Saturday, November 19th, 8:30pm (Doors at 8), $10 in advance through indiemontreal, $12 at the door.

Sunrise & Good People + Paint + Arms of the Girl + Citylake

Another great show taking place on Saturday night is at Piranha Bar where an evening of indie music, headlined by local act Sunrise & Good People, is taking place. Known for creating fun catchy songs that also speak to the bigger picture issues around the world these guys capture the deeper and more spiritual meaning behind their art.

Joining them is an all Canadian lineup of equally as accomplished performers including PaintArms of the Girl and Citylake. This show is probably the most diverse concert of the week, perfect for groups where not everyone has the same tastes. There’s even a discount if you buy two tickets at the same time!

Sunrise & Good People, Paint, Arms of the Girl and Citylake play Piranha Bar 680 Ste-Catherine Ouest, Saturday, November 19th, 8:30pm, $7 (or 2 for $10).

 

Riot Porn + Full MT + The Shakewell Brothers + Blame Mary

This show is a combination of some of the best things in the world: punk rock, Barfly and free concerts. It’s amazing how well those words just go together. This event, featuring the local punk bands Riot Porn, Full MT, The Shakewell Brothers and Blame Mary is being labelled as Radical Live and is a great way to blow off steam for those who are feeling a little disenchanted by recent events.

Considering the non-existent cover charge and Barfly’s better-than-anywhere-else-on-the-Main’s drink prices this has to be the hands down best show of the week for those who are brok… urrrrr financially savvy.

Riot Porn, Full MT, The Shakewell Brothers and Blame Mary play Barfly, 4062A Boulevard St. Laurent, Friday, November 18th, 9:00pm, free.

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

* Featured image of Lakes of Canada via Indie Montreal

A few years ago, it was late and the party was winding down. In the background, whatever playlist we were using changed the tune and the first bars of Famous Blue Raincoat started playing. The volume was low and most people were focused on where they had to get to, then someone asked the room “What time is it?” And Leonard Cohen answered through our makeshift sound system:

After we all laughed, someone actually checked the time and, turns out Leonard Cohen was right. It was just after 4am. On the Plateau, a few blocks from where Cohen had written some of his most famous songs. Where he lived for many years with Marianne Ihlen. Yes, So Long, Marianne is named after her, not Marie-Anne street that borders Parc du Portugal.

The couple first lived on St-Laurent then moved to the other side of the park on Vallières Street. where Cohen still owned a home right up until his passing. No matter where his primary residence may have been, he always came back to Montreal for a visit. He also kept in touch with Ihlen for decades after the couple split, even writing a letter before she passed away herself last July which included the now prophetic line “I will follow you very soon.”

His doorway is now a makeshift memorial with Cohen music playing out of an old boombox as people continue to leave candles, pictures and other messages as a tribute to the man’s life and the poetry and music he left us. There was a large gathering of Cohen fans, friends and neighbours and a group singing of some of his biggest hits Saturday and another memorial gathering by the Portuguese community today.

A similar shrine has popped up outside the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, made famous in this Cohen tune:

While New York mourns him, a city where he lived and wrote for quite a while, and the rest of the world will surely miss him, too. Montreal was always a part of Cohen and he has been a part of our culture for decades and will be for decades more.

People have been floating ideas for a permanent memorial, like renaming a street, a part of a street or building some sort of monument. Some have even suggested renaming Parc du Portugal in his honour, which would take the approval of the Plateau Borough and the Portuguese Community, but seems the most likely to me along with possibly re-naming Vallières to honour him. Renaming Marie-Anne as some have suggested just wouldn’t make sense.

It was even suggested, by the new PQ leader of all people, to give Cohen a state funeral a la Rene Angelil, but then we found out that he had already been buried. Turns out Cohen passed away on Monday in Los Angeles and his body was flown to Montreal for a small family funeral on Thursday afternoon, after which he was interred in his family’s plot on the foot of Mount Royal.

Then, Thursday evening, Cohen’s official Facebook page notified the world that the man who was a legend had left us. No chance of a large, expensive and ostentatious affair paid for with public funds. Leonard Cohen saw to it that his funeral would be a low key affair, in perfect keeping with his style.

Over the past few days, quite a few of my fellow Montrealers have been posting about encounters they had with Cohen on social media and telling their anecdotes to reporters. While I never had the opportunity to run into him myself, I vicariously feel like I have.

All the stories paint a similar picture. That of a total gentleman who would hold the door for a stranger carrying too much stuff, would leave the house impeccably dressed no matter what time it was or what he was doing, would hang around as a member of the community without any pretension, respectful of his neighbours and pleasant to any random fan who happened to catch his eye.

Through his music and lyrics, we all got the chance to know him. He was a down-to-earth guy who had an uncanny ability to observe and understand human nature and the gift to be able to translate that understanding into brilliantly crafted lyrics. He also had the forethought to realize that if he set those lyrics to music and delivered them more like a poet with a backup band than a traditional singer it would work.

When it came to politics, he was a cynic, sure. But even at his most cynical, he was also optimistic:

but he always kept it real:

and was fierce fighter:

The impact this man had on the culture at large, the culture here in Montreal and millions of people, most who never met him, is immeasurable. I tried to include as many tunes as possible in this post, but it barely scratches the surface of even just my favourite Leonard Cohen songs, let alone what this legend had to offer over the decades.

Leonard Cohen, so long, sir, you will always be with us.

With Chanda M’s debut album being released tomorrow, Indie Montreal and Forget The Box are proud to give you an exclusive early listen. We’d also like to offer you a chance to win free tickets to the album launch tomorrow, November 12th at La Vitrola (contest info below the music).

Chanda M’s ambient electronic aesthetic has been called one powerfully composed audio experience. Her bewitching vocal style has often been compared to Kate Bush St. Vincent and Bat for Lashes.

While Icons of Dreams EP is her debut, the sharp electronic and will make you feel like you’re traversing through auditory ether. It shows a beauty and composure that you’d normally hear from a seasoned performer, a certain maturity that you don’t normally expect from a debut.

Enjoy:

 

She’ll be launching the EP tomorrow night at La Vitrola. You can win a pair of tickets simply by subscribing to the Forget the Box email list (you also get the latest updates from your favorite Montreal News, Politics and Culture website). We’ll be sending details on how to win the tickets via email early tomorrow.

* Chanda M “Icons of Dreams” EP Launch Party, Saturday, November 12, 8pm, La Vitrola, 4602 St-Laurent

If you do miss her tomorrow night, be sure to catch her in Ottawa on at Live in Elgin on November 19th.

While most of the articles on FTB (well make that the internet as a whole) right now are very predictably about a certain you-know-who winning some sort of vote, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s alright to take a deep breath, realize that life goes on, get the hell off Facebook and go out to see some great music! We’ve got some very interesting and varied shows in our city this week so tell the roomie it’s your turn to wear the dancing pants this weekend cause you’ve got some shows to go to.

Lauren Mann + Ada Lea

On Sunday you can head over to Casa Del Popolo where Kick Drum is presenting an evening of music featuring singer/songwriter Lauren Mann whose recently released album Dearestly is an excellent mix of warm, whimsical, pop sensible tunes that can light up any room. Give a few tracks from the album a listen and you’ll be hooked instantly.

Joining her will be Montreal based singer and double bassist Ada Lea  whose voice might just be the soothing tones you need right now to get back to your happy place. But seriously folks, this is a great show with two wonderful performers that should be on your radar.

Lauren Mann and Ada Lea play Casa Del Popolo, 4873 Boulevard St-Laurent, Sunday, November 13th, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:30pm), $10 available through lfttckt.

Dragonette + Lowell

On Friday Toronto based electro pop band Dragonette are set to release their fourth full length album Royal Blues and as chance would have it they’re also playing Théâtre Fairmount that same night as part of a cross Canada tour in support of their new release. They’ve already put out a few singles but Friday will be the first chance the hear all the new tunes both live and in album form.

Joining them will be another Toronto based electro artist, singer/songwriter Lowell who released a new EP over the summer and has teamed up with Dragonette for this whole tour. If you’re unfamiliar with her then check out this track from a couple of years ago that has the added bonus of being one of those cool “one camera shot for the whole video” things.

 

Dragonette and Lowell play Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Avenue du Parc, Friday, November 11th, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00pm), $20 available through box office.

 

CJLO Metal Showcase IV: Punk v Metal

While the “v” in between “Punk” and “Metal” in the title is supposed to denote competition I seriously doubt that there will be any American Idol style judging on this evening. Basically Catacombs is hosting a pay-what-you-can evening of music featuring four bands of the punk/metal variety perfect for those who like to mosh out their negative energy.

This bill has some great local acts that are not for the faint of heart: Vomit SquadDevoraGutser and Powered by Death. Because this is an event hosted by a radio station you get the added bonus that in between the performances CJLO will be doing what they do best, spinning tunes.


Vomit Squad, Devora, Gutser and Powered by Death play COOP Katacombes, 1635 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Friday, November 11th, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00pm), PWYC (Suggestion $5).

Night Riots + The Hunna + The Shelters

On Friday Sala Rosa will host a trio of up and coming alternative rock bands in the form of Night Riots The Hunna and The Shelters who have teamed up for a North American tour supported by AltNation. These bands might not yet be on your radar so give them a listen and if you like what you hear, well then I guess you’ve got your plans for Friday worked out!

Night Riots, The Hunna and The Shelters play Sala Rosa, 4848 Boulevard St-Laurent, Friday, November 11th, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00pm), $20 available through box office.

* Featured image of Dragonette via promotionmusicnews.com

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

The Chilean refugees who arrived in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in Montreal, have been a community that has captivated me throughout the past two years. I was therefore ecstatic to have the opportunity to see The Refugee Hotel staged at The Segal Centre. Despite some awkward translation into English and a difficult script to work with, the play is an excellent one that I recommend – particularly after yesterday’s events in the USA.

These brave Chileans who came across the oceans were faced with two choices; the first being to trust that everything would be okay for them in Chile if they kept their heads down, stayed in line, and trusted that the military would “make Chile great again”. The second: to restart their entire lives in a country with a new language, new food, new music, and of course, the omnipresent “Canadian values” (still searching for a definition of those, other than the ability to properly cross-check someone).

Teesri Duniya Theatre’s production of The Refugee Hotel does its sincere best to answer these questions. The script draws from author-and-playwright Carmen Aguirre’s lived experience as the child of Chilean refugees growing up in 1970s Canada. It’s an impressive story made even more poignant by its autobiographical basis.

The Refugee Hotel Trailer from Chris Wardell on Vimeo.

This is one of the reasons that it is so frustrating to review this play. Though the premise is admirable, Aguirre’s play shortchanges itself by trying to fit too many facets of the Chilean refugee story, and indeed, the story of human migration, into two short acts.

At the centre of the play are Jorge (Pablo Diconca) and Flaca (Gilda Monreal), a married couple who represent two sides of the resistance movement in Chile. Jorge is something of a milquetoast pacifist anarchist accountant, while his wife is a firebrand Marxist active in the MIR (the Revolutionary Leftist Movement).

Their two children escape with them to a hotel in Canada, where they meet other Chilean refugees subjected to inhuman torture in the Carabineros’ concentration camps. The rest of the play progresses at a slow pace as each rediscovers their humanity and intimacy, one-by-one in a frustratingly perfect way.

By “frustratingly perfect,” I mean that of course the mute girl is coaxed into to talking at the end of the second act, and she falls for the man who talks with her first, and of course they end the play with a freeze-frame photo motif. The play’s unfortunate dives into clichés keep it from developing serious critiques.

Jorge and Flaca’s struggle to be intimate once again despite the horrific sexual torture that the Carabineros inflicted upon her is a topic that is criminally underrepresented in works of art; and even less so is it approached sensitively. An exploration of that theme alone would have made for a powerful and moving production, but Aguirre’s insistence on shoehorning so many important themes into the play means that extraordinarily difficult trauma from torture is treated as nothing more than a plot point. For example, two suicide attempts that happen within two minutes of another are treated as comedic moments.

Moreover, I felt that the repeated flashbacks to scenes of torture in the Estadio Nacional de Chile are not used to explore the characters’ motivations and histories, but rather as punctuation marks for the drama as a whole.

The play is being performed at the Segal Centre, which bills itself as the heart of Montreal’s Anglophone theatre culture. This presents an interesting double-edged sword for the actors in that they are reading from a script originally written in Spanish, for an English-speaking audience in French Canada.

Certain recurring parts of the script (such as the nickname for Jorge, “Little-Big-Bear”) sound awkward in English where they would have made perfect sense in Spanish (“Osito Grande,” better understood as “Teddy Bear”). On a larger scale, the familiar words, particularly “desaparecido,” used to articulate the brutality of the Pinochet regime are lost in translation.

Furthermore, the play misses opportunity to develop a more nuanced comedic character in Bill O’Neill, the enthusiastic Québécois hippie who helps the guests at the Refugee Hotel find work. In the Spanish script, he speaks with comically poor but confident command over Spanish, but in this English adaptation, his dialogue sounds like a 19th-century caricature – “Army me take to stadium. Bad men take Bill!”

Other than awkward phrasing, this makes the characterization of Bill difficult for the audience, as he is repeatedly referred to (kindly) as “the only gringo who speaks Spanish.” In poor translation, Bill’s character shifts from that of a Canadian activist with a sincere wish to improve his Spanish and act in solidarity with Chilean refugees into a buffoon.

This is the part of reviewing that I do not enjoy. The story itself is captivating, and the curation behind the set design and music choices was phenomenal. I just wish that the story was more focused on one or two of these families, instead of a script that leaves several important facets of post-traumatic stress equally unexamined.

All of this is not to say that I did not find the play enjoyable and tastefully performed – in fact, the actors did a stellar job working with an awkward script, and the set direction was simple and elegant. I give a special commendation to the Set Designer, Diana Uribe, who placed the beds of the hotel at an upright 90º angle, which allowed the actors to remain part of the action, while staying true to the stage direction to lie supine.

The music choices, namely the major-key Victor Jara folk ballads that accompanied scenes of horrific torture in the Estadio Nacional may have been shocking to people unfamiliar with Chile’s musical history – but it seems a deliberate nod to the famous Cueca Sola spot produced by the Anti-Pinochet Campaign during the 1989 plebiscite made famous by Pablo Larraín’s 2012 film. This is made all the more poignant by the fact that Victor Jara was tortured to death in the Estadio Nacional, specifically targeted and brutally murdered for his popularity and beliefs.

Speaking with the actor who played Jorge, Pablo Diconca, I learned that many of the cast came into this production with the explicit goal of putting faces to the communities so left behind by history. Diconca is a Uruguayan-born Montrealer who has been an integral part of the local theatre scene since his arrival in Canada at 19:

“I can not ever forget the fact that I have an accent, and I will always have one. This has restricted me as an actor – I have played drug dealers, murderers, and taxi drivers more than I can count,” Pablo told me. “When I came to Canada, I refused these roles out of principle…but with time, I came to realize that acting is my passion, and that by being on stage, this is how one becomes involved in the local culture and community. One must put their heart into acting. It becomes easier when the script is [about] something you already have in your heart. I was invited to be a part of this cast, and I didn’t see how I could turn it down. This is a play that can help to open minds.”

Teesri Duniya’s Artistic Director and co-founder, Rahul Varma, explained to me that he chose to stage this play as a way of “challenging the notion that 9/11 of 2001 divided the world into pre-9/11 and post 9/11…there have been so many other 9/11s, such as the 9/11 of 1973.” Rahul is of course referring to the military coup in Chile that took place on September 11, 1973, where the Chilean Air Force bombed downtown Santiago and assassinated the democratically-elected head of state, Salvador Allende.

refugee-hotel-2

Rahul continued, referencing the current Syrian refugee crisis, “I thought that this play brings certain realities of the past and connects them to what is currently happening.  The idea is to look into what has happened – why is it that refugees are coming to Canada? Why do people leave their homes elsewhere?”

According to their website, Teesri Duniya Theatre “is dedicated to producing, developing and presenting socially and politically relevant theatre, based on the cultural experiences of diverse communities.” They are an incredibly important part of Montreal’s Arts community and I am thrilled to see that they took it upon themselves to tell the story of an underrepresented and important part of Canada.

As we draw to the closing of this play’s run at the Segal Centre, as well as the dawning of an unprecedented dark cloud over North American immigration politics, it is important to remember the lessons left by Chilean-Canadians’ struggles in and out of their homeland. I salute Teesri Duniya Theatre, The Segal Centre, and the cast and crew of this production for shining a light on the challenges faced by refugees in a sensitive and responsible manner despite an unaccommodating script.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.

The Refugee Hotel is playing until Sunday at The Segal Centre (5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine). Tickets available here.

Poster by Rashad Nilamdeen.

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its early November edition. The chill has definitely returned to Montreal, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to lock ourselves indoors yet! Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Bareoke presented by Glam Gam

No stranger to performing in local strip clubs with the burlesque troupe Glam Gam, Lipster’s organizers realized this type of venue would surely allow them to transform their karaoke show into Stripster!

Now you can find them the first Saturday of every month at the historic Café Cléopâtre, which comes equipped with a large stage, a smoke machine and crazy lighting which allows people to take their performances to the next level.

Glam Gam’s organizers have made an important step in making the space open for everyone, according to their Facebook event page : “We are thrilled to have performers of all different backgrounds, ages, body types, gender identities and sexualities. Some people will take off just a sock, others will get down to their skivvies and a lot of brave souls prance around in their birthday suits! The best part is that everyone respects and encourages each other’s boundaries with little to no policing on our part.”

Come see what all the fuss is about!

Bareoke @ Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent, Saturday, November 5, 10PM, $5

FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!
FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!

Fishbowl Collective Presents: An Anti-War Art Pop-up

The Fishbowl Collective will be occupying a studio space in Griffintown and filling it with art of all kinds against war/militarism of any kind!

At 8:30, the space will be taken over by anti-war Pierrots in an hour-long version of Theatre Workshop’s Oh What a Lovely War!

From 9:30-11 the space will act as a showcase for local artists to show their work!

Local anti-war organizations will be tabling in the space.

Oh What A Lovely War's Theatrical Poster
Oh What A Lovely War’s Theatrical Poster

Using songs and documents of the period, Oh What a Lovely War! is an epic theatrical chronicle of the horrors of WWI as presented by a seaside pierrot troupe. It was collectively created by Theatre Workshop in 1963 under Joan Littlewood, and over 50 years later remains unique in its innovative satiric way of looking at the difficult subject of war and its futility. Its dismissal of sentimentality and its distinct anti-war-agit-prop flavour highlights the oppression of the working stiff turned common soldier and points to the absurdity involved in war.

141 Rue Ste Ann, Pay What You Can (All Proceeds go to Actions Réfugiés Montréal)

Pride Screening presented by Socialist Fightback!

Socialist Fightback is screening Pride (2014) at McGill University’s Shatner Building in Room 202 this Wednesday. Entrance is FREE, and a spirited discussion is sure to follow. Curious about what “Solidarity” means to the LGBT community? Check this movie out.

Pride offers an excellent example of solidarity along class lines. Between 1981-1984, the British government under Margaret Thatcher had closed around 20 mining pits and coal mining employment continued to fall. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a major industrial action to shut down the British coal industry in an attempt to prevent colliery closures.

Also victims of Thatcher’s bigotry and conservative policies, gays and lesbians came together to collect funds and sustain the miner’s strike. Although reluctant at first, the miners accepted the support from the LGSM.

Pride is a great demonstration of how class unity is the best and most effective way of fighting against all types of oppression.

Pride is screening in the Shatner Building Room 202 @ McGill University, November 9, 7pm, FREE

 

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

I will be attending the Montreal Infringement Festival this year and simultaneously protesting the World Fringe Conference. Everyone who tried to attend the conference from both the Montreal and Buffalo Infringement Festivals have been denied without reason.

Why do we scare you so much? If you want to have a well run festival you must know the counterculture you have excluded. Fringe artists are supposed to be cutting edge and on the fringe of new and exciting artistic expression. They must pay money to be part of the festival. Politically motivated acts are not welcome due to the chance of pissing off sponsors. Censorship and corporate sponsorship are evil.

The Montreal Infringement Festival was created by Donovan King in 2004 after the St. Ambroise (a beer company) Fringe censored the artist in 2001. The sponsor Can-West Global, a media company that owns the Montreal Gazette was to blame.

The theatre critic from the Gazette wanted a free ticket to Car Stories (experimental politically charged interactive street theatre where the audience moves and becomes the show) and after being told “no” caused a stink and decided not to cover the festival until the artists were ejected. The festival not only kicked the artists out but also refused to pay them their ticket sales after a sold out week or reimburse the registration fee associated with the Fringe trademark.

The following year Infringement spread to Buffalo. Infringement is a non-profit, non-hierarchal, grassroots art festival. It is a revolution that brings together independent, free spirited, and often controversial and experimental expression.

live-painting-infringement
Donovan and I Montreal Infringement 2014

Donovan King attended the World Fringe Congresses in Edinburgh in 2012 and 2014 . He was invited as a representative of the infringement festivals. This year he the conference is in his hometown and he was denied access.

This is a blatant disrespectful slap in the face. Donovan was excited at the prospect of attending the 2016 Congress to continue the conversation in his home city and to try and finally resolve issues.

He has written and performed pieces that criticize the Fringe Festival and its ethics. Other artists have combined efforts to artistically challenge their exclusion from the St. Ambroise Fringe through culture jamming. The festival has responded with the complete exclusion of activist artists.

The police are called whenever there is a protest, even though the right to protest in Canada is protected by their constitution. Instead of communicating we are shunned, this cultural battle that has gone on for well over a decade and it must end now!

This year for the 3rd World Fringe Congress Donovan proposed a workshop on strategies to help ensure safer artistic festivals after unfortunate instances of sexual assault and discrimination against disabled people at recent Fringe Festivals. We need to create policies to ensure safety and inclusion of all people in our festivals.

He wrote a letter to the new Fringe CEO, Ms. Shona McCarthy, in response to the rejection of Infringement representatives:

“I find it really unfortunate that my colleagues in Buffalo are being rejected simply for being associated with me. It is important to remember that these artists simply wanted to do Fringe theatre until they were threatened by the Fringe in NYC, who claimed to control a Fringe trademark. Instead, they started an infringement festival, just like we did because of the Canadian trademark that prevented us from doing a populist form of arts we have been doing since we helped found the Fringe in Montreal. We are about as Fringe as it gets – if people won’t let us play in their ‘official’ festival, we are going to do it ourselves, just like the artists who invented the 1947 Fringe Festival in the first place.”

art-wall-infringement
Infringement Festivals accept and celebrate all artists

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) also threatens unfounded legal action against any independent artists who try to use the word Fringe without their permission. This is the antithesis of creative expression. There is an exclusion of artists actually on the fringe of societal norms.

The Infringement Festivals do not fit corporate agendas and are not allowed to voice creative solutions to critical questions. In order to spark our own counter conversation there will be a World Infringement Congress on Saturday November 19th in Montreal.

Infringement is about community, inclusion for all, challenging unjust politics, celebrating diversity, and changing the world through artistic expression. Buffalo comrades should make the trip.

My last performance with Candy Ass was incredible
My last performance with Candy Ass Cabaret

I will be exposed and covered in corporate logos for the world to see and performing with The Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatra. I have been one of the visual arts organizers, a participating artist, and performer in the Buffalo festival for years and am also proud to say that I won the 2017 poster contest.

I am dedicated to the conservation of artistic integrity worldwide. My paintings have been ripped off walls and people have walked out of my performances. If people are offended then you are doing it right.

art-community
Buffalo stands with Montreal to protect Infringement

I was surprised when I saw a giant ad and schedule for the Rochester Fringe Festival in a local Buffalo art publication. This is Infringement territory! We celebrate diversity and the pure unedited brilliance of local artists.

Try to tell me that what we are doing is wrong, that bringing the community together and celebrating the beauty of unity, artists of all walks of life and experience standing side by side making the world stronger, exposing children to art, collaborating with our neighbors and connecting to out of town artists who will soon become family.

Authentic and exhilarating politically charged art, discrediting idea of art as a commodity and fighting for the rights of all humans, and challenging mainstream ideas. No budget, totally volunteer run, guerrilla music, burlesque, dance, theatre, visual arts, poetry, comedy, and under the radar art that defies all categorization.

It is my everything, a citywide sprawling sweet escape from reality. I will fight for the integrity of this festival and others like it to the end.