January 19th, 2016
Saul Garcia Lopez, Director of Track et Déraillements
“As part of a national research project in Art for Social Change (ASC!), Encounters performers and production team have been experimenting over the past 2 years with performance of ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ as a means to build relationships across real and perceived differences. Tracks et Déraillements brings these stories and experiences to public performance through dialogue, poetic intervention, movement, song, and autobiographic stories that confront these differences and the challenges of our multicultural society.”
The QDF team had the opportunity to speak with production Director, Saul Garcia Lopez by phone.
QDF: After a little internet search, we discovered you are a triple threat: a radical interdisciplinary performance artist, dancer, theatre and video maker, and that you also teach.
Saul: Oh wow! The internet sometimes scares me! (he laughs). You are right, I had the opportunity to study all that. I have a long history in the arts. In Mexico City I trained as a dancer and actor, then I moved to Australia where I studied directing. I went to Johannesburg, South Africa to study film, and I explored physical theatre in the United Kingdom, before coming to Canada where I work in the intersections of art practice and academia. I am a radical pedagogue and director, a postnational conceptual artist, and I consider myself at times, the only MexiCANadian (he laughs).
QDF: How did you get involved in the project with Concordia’s Theatre Department?
Saul: Being an artist and scholar that explore the intersections of performance theory, practice and pedagogy facilitated my connection to the institution. Later on, I was approached by Racheal Van Fossen artistic director of the Encounters Project. She knew my work with the renowned performance troupe La Pocha Nostra, which I am Co-Artistic Director for, and invited me to give a workshop at Concordia. That was the first time I met with the members of the ensemble. I still remember the energy in that room, I was impressed by the sense of collaboration and caring between the members of the ensemble. I was invited to see some of their work, it was extremely powerful. This first dance together, made me think about what does it take to be an immigrant, an artist, have a very complex identity and try to find a place and voice in a new community.
QDF: Why did you join the project?
Saul: In my artistic practice, I work a lot with multiethnic, cross-generational, multigendered, and interdisciplinary groups of artists. This is the basis of my work and my connection to the ensemble. Artistically, I consider that The Encounters Project is willing to take risk and experiment with non traditional forms of representation aiming to create bridges between the artists and the audience. Oh, I forgot! They are also a bunch of creative locos ( he laughs) and generous people that are fun to hang out with.
QDF: The project has been ongoing for two years, when did you get involved?
Saul: My work has been in three parts. One year ago, I had the opportunity to lead a performance workshop. Then, we had another two residences in which we focused on the development of performance material. The last stage is this one, the conceptualization and preparation of a public performance. This is a piece trying to contain in 90 min. more than two years of creative experimentation and research. A complex and challenging task for a director. I have expended hours in different bohemian bars in Montreal working on how to achieve this! (laughs). Thankfully, I have an amazing creative and production crew supporting the entire project. A group of super professional young people.
QDF: We know that in this production, audience play an intricate role. What is it like to build work where the intention is for the audience to be participatory?
Saul: As a radical director, it is important for me to challenge hierarchical structures of representation. It is my belief that performance cannot be democratic if there is no room for direct physical and intellectual participation from the audience. This doesn’t mean that when you come to a performance you are obligated to participate. We working on creating an immersive environment that tries to balance the power relation between the artists and audience, in which both sides can talk back to each other. It is like practicing a clumsy democracy (he laughs). All the elements of the production have been devised to facilitate interaction. Let’s say that it’s a theatre/instillation, a living structure formed by a Metro that morphs and connect us to the architecture, performance actions, poetic interventions, video, sound, dance, songs…
QDF: As I am sure you know, language can be a challenge in this city. What role does language play in your production?
Saul: Members of the Ensemble speak different languages, there is mostly French / Quebecois, English. There is no direct translations and it means to be like that. This, as a direct reflection of our local society. Sometimes, in everyday life we might feel lost in translation, and I wonder if perhaps it’s OK to feel like that and learn to deal with it.
QDF: Is there anything else you would like your audience to know?
Saul: The performance has a mise en scène that feels welcoming, surprising and unknown, daring and honest. Come, meet us and witness incredible performances delivered by talented actors that take risk. In this performance we are trying to find creative ways that helps us to navigate one of our inherent conditions as human beings, difference.
Tracks et Déraillements by Le Projet Rencontres/ The Encounters Project runs January 20th – 23rd at 7:30 pm, January 23rd at 1:30pm at the MAI 3680 rue Jeanne Mance. Tickets are pay what you can at the door or reserve tickets $10 in advance (tracksetderaillements.brownpapertickets.com)