Singing with a Tower of London model strapped to my head. Performing for an audience of one in a closet. Singing Cyndi Lauper songs to a maniacal tap-dancer. It was all part of the show at the New Waves Festival.
The New Waves Festival at Young Centre for the Performing Arts, a part of this year's LuminaTO Festival, was an amazing experience. Conceived by Soulpepper Theatre artistic director Albert Schultz and his merry band of Resident Artists, this festival showcased new, creative artistic endeavours showcasing over 100 musicians, dancers, and other artists… all from the city of Toronto.
More than any other festival I've experienced, this Festival blurred the boundaries between artist and audience. Many of the 15-minute artistic 'performances' actively engaged the audience: in some cases, such as the nightly Collaboratory Jam or the "insta-choirs", the audience was the performer! It was an event that appealed to all ages: in a few cases, such as the Swing Room, the Bedtime Stories and the Invention Room, the adults got into it even more than the kids.
We also experience unexpected, spontaneous artistic meetings-of-minds, from the Shakespeare recitation accompanied by tap-dancing to the Celtic fiddle and beatboxing duet. Anything could happen… and it usually did.
In a city like Toronto, not always known for it's flamboyance or joie-de-vive, it was exciting for me to see the festival-goers engage in the entire experience, abandoning inhibitions and getting into the artistic spirit. It's something that Toronto needs. Thanks Albert and the gang…. here's hoping it becomes a regular happening.