Monday, November 21, 2011

First Person: Chad Dembski on The Farewell Project (Halifax)

Trailer for Farewell Project

A simple performance with epic hopes and dreams
by Chad Dembski

Created and Performed by Dustin Harvey (Secret Theatre, Halifax) and Chad Dembski (Surprise Performance, Montreal)

On an ordinary night, in a place you might pass by everyday, two performers make several attempts at saying goodbye to all the past and future people to leave the city. Using a camera and some really long
cords they transform a public street corner into a live video backdrop, and play with audience participation to illustrate key elements of the performance.  There are also stories about community, about what it means to live in a community, and the ways that choice greatly impacts who we are. They also imagine the place if everyone who left had stayed.

The piece was created to be able to move, to try and connect with strangers, to attempt to imagine a future...

THE FAREWELL PROJECT gives individuals the opportunity to imagine themselves as part of a temporary utopia, and experience a unique performance that makes saying goodbye a little easier to do.

THE FAREWELL PROJECT is an ongoing work of Halifax’s Secret Theatre, which has included FAREWELL HALIFAX, and FAREWELL CARDIFF.  The group makes sound recordings and photographs of the city to be used in the performance creating a perspective that is thoughtful, local, and

This project began with an e-mail exchange with Dustin Harvey whom I had known for 8 years but had never worked with but had always wanted to.  It began slowly in the Fall of 2010 and had its premiere in June of this year in Halifax at the Neptune Studio's.  The piece was created to be able to move, to try and connect with strangers, to attempt to imagine a future where we make our own paradise and not wait for others to make it for us, to present something simple in creation and execution but complex in its  ability to touch audience members in unique and individual ways.  We play ourselves, or a version of ourselves,  not in an ironic way but as a way of communicating better, being closer to people, closer to truth we know from experience, pain and happiness.  

Taking the show to the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff (FAREWELL, CARDIFF! - Experimentica 1.1) was an amazing experience as we played the show in one night and  interacted with an outside crowd that had no idea what we were doing.  This is part of our show, the experience of it, of  seeing your city in a new way, of seeing the potential of strangers, of risking the unknown, of being able to ask questions to yourself during a show. 

This is one of my favorite ways to present a piece, free and open to the public at  large...

Recently the piece (FAREWELL, HALIFAX!) was presented in Halifax by HRM (the Halifax city organization has an arts department) from November 3rd-5th.  One of the stipulations of the presentation is that it be considered a public art project and needed to be free to the public.  This is one of my favorite ways to present a piece, free and open to the public at  large, it brings a whole new crowd to an experimental performance.  The space was a gigantic empty old building that was completely gutted and torn apart, it was formerly a giant pool hall and bar.  It was on Barrington St. (the main road through downtown Halifax) and had not been used in many many years (at least 3 or 4) and had incredible potential but sadness to it.

We had just enough active electricity to put up our live video projection, a sound system and a few plug-in lamps. This crowd included young students new to Halifax, older people with an amazing historical perspective on the city from the 50's and 60's on, recent immigrants, theatre professionals who not been to much site specific work, and almost all strangers.  There was a beautiful intimacy created by this crowd as they held each other in the end and then hung around after the show to talk, write out surveys and inspect the large, cavernous and ignored space.  

Outside people played in the live video feed long after the ending, keeping the building alive for a few more hours.  

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