‘A Presence of Monster’ review
By Julia Siedlanowska, Staff Writer
The Bachelor of Performing Arts degree completion program presented their collaborative project A Presence of Monster at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival on January 30. Under the name “Dirty Laundry Creations,” the collective of 22 graduate students from Douglas College, Capilano University, Langara College, and Vancouver Community College premiered their new work at the Roundhouse Community Centre to an audience of parents, faculty, and patrons.
The story was based on the myth of the Silver King, which begins when a wanton king is imprisoned on the moon. Looking upon the life he left, he sheds a tear that lands on his three former lovers, killing them and leaving each of their children without a guardian. When the king sheds a second tear, his children become monsters and set forth to confront him.
This narrative is set in modern day and is punctuated by moments of interdisciplinary and multimedia art that aids in telling the story and showcasing the skills of the students.
“It’s like a quilt,” said Megan de Leon Solis, a member of the ensemble. “We learned a lot about cubism, so that was a big part of the show.”
This is certainly visible in the fragmented yet cohesive nature of the creation. The collective had the challenge of making the ideas of 22 students work together as one piece. Each member of the ensemble contributed through either directing a segment of the production, acting, performing through dance, costume and set design, composition, writing, choreography, or the creation of video footage and projections.
The team did well to punctuate the dramatic myth with moments of humour. Fake news coverage with reporter Cyndi Lauper offered a contrast to some of the more serious moments.
A segment with a more serious tone that stood out aesthetically was a moment in which a masked representation of the King is silently wheeled onto the stage in an industrial-looking metal throne. The actor wears puppet hands that are then extended to grab at the poor girl at the front of the stage who repeats to herself, “It was just a dream.” The effect is obviously meant to be terrifying, and it indeed would be if the moments leading up to it prepared the audience for the switch in tone.
While there were challenges in compiling the visions of a large group of artists, the group did very well to present a whole piece of art.
“We had to learn when to push for what we wanted and when to let go,” Solis explained.
In a message from program instructors David Bloom and Marguerite Witvoet, they expressed obvious satisfaction that the students “kept the artistry at the forefront and refused to be a committee.”