This coming weekend at Arts Court Studio the Fresh Meat Theatre Festival is showcasing original works from two local independent theatre companies in a fresh new Weekend Inventive program. The idea is that the initiative brings in two companies who, in a shared studio space, each create short pieces of theatre over a three day period after which are then shown in front of an audience. Following the festival’s mandate to give a platform to local theatre artists, the Weekend Inventive provides another opportunity for emerging artists to stretch their creative talents and get their work seen.

The first installment the Weekend Inventive features Bad Hats Theatre Co. and the duo Karina Milech and Patrick Kelly with the final performances going down Saturday February 28th at 8pm.  This is a great way for artists and audiences alike to become more familiar with the developing talent that’s coming out of Ottawa’s theatre scene and, by way of entry-by-suggested donation-of-$10, a chance to nourish and support the independent theatre community. The focus of the Inventive is more on the creative process than on a fully polished final product, and with this in mind I have joined up with the folks at Fresh Meat to embed myself within the Weekend Inventive as a means of reporting on the processes that go into creating a theatrical event.

Admittedly this is a bit of an experiment for me as a critic as well. I have been inspired by the works of Maddy Costa, a theatre critic for the Guardian in the UK, who developed an organization called Dialogue, as means of challenging the traditional dichotomies between artist, audience, and critic as well as the traditional models or structures in which theatre criticism is usually written. Karen Fricker, a professor at Brock University, experimented with what is casually termed “embedded criticism” at the Shaw Festival with their production of Juno and the Paycock. The result is an engaging style of writing, noticeably non-judgemental or prescriptive, and that is quite different to that of the preview or the subsequent review. The goal is to open the rehearsal room up to the audience and expose, if you will, the framings of the art work, inviting an audience to become part of the journey. Since the Weekend Inventive has a particular focus on process over product, I felt that this would be a fitting avenue for a trial run.

Writing in the spirit of Costa’s manifesto, I will be sitting in on the rehearsals of these two companies over the next three days and detailing directly to you, the reader, their artistic journeys- their struggles, their triumphs, and, most importantly, their exploration of it all. Stay tuned!

Written by Brianna McFarlane

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