Puppeteer Tara  Travis and Actress Heather Doerksen


Amber DawnThe Tomorrow Collective
Brief Encounters 16

Dates and Venue 14-16 April 2011, 8pm | Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright Street, Granville Island

Reviewer Ed Farolan

When you come to see a show with a jam-packed audience, you start getting a feeling that this is going to be a good show. And indeed this was!

Since its inception five years ago, this popular series has presented more than 168 artists in 16 "encounters".It's an interesting experiment where artists of all walks of life, from stage actors, musicians, painters including visual art engineers are invited to perform. They are paired and given only two weeks to work with their assigned partner and come up with a more or less 15-minute performance. There are two guest "programmers" assigned, in this case they were Cris Derksen and Heather Lindsay who assign the pairings and also do the emceeing,

Brief Encounters 16 was indeed a crowd-pleaser. It started with filmmaker and drummer Clancey Denney drumming away while his partner, Shyama-Priya, from the Cree nation, danced a butterfly "dance of transformation" accompanied by strobe lights and other special light effects from lighting crew Kadie O'Reilly and Jamie von Saken.

Following this was a one-act comedy by comedians and writers Amber Dawn and Jason Bryden, about a lesbian couple wanting a child. This was really funny. Puppeteer Tara Travis accompanied by electronic musician Ellis Sam followed with another hilarious puppet show about an 18-year old with big feet being propositioned by a good-looking guy, but who had a big-foot fetische.

There was a brief intermission afterwards, and the artists mingled with the audience and answered questions, while others took to the bar right at the back of the venue and went back to their seats that were arranged in restaurant-bar fashion with candles on the tables.

After the intermission, the next encounter was, for me, the most creative. It had visual art engineer Leigh Christie use what appeared to be a welding instrument to cut out a figure of a woman on either hard cardboard or wood. While he was doing this, his partner, jazz musician Chris Gestrin played his brand of music. Following this was a somewhat laid back folk-singing performance by lovely stage and film actor Heather Doerksen and talented folk singer Christa Couture who sang a nostalgic tribute to coming home to Vancouver. The final act was literally "out of this world" where garment sculpture artist Benjamin Larose combined his costume sculpture design of what appeared to be futuristic astronauts with musician and comic book artist Hank Pine as both did a spatial song-and-dance routine.

This was an insanely fun event seeing pairs from different artistic fields being creative and innovative, and I look forward to the next brief encounter scheduled sometime in August. I'm sure the venue is going to be jam-packed again.

© 2011 Ed Farolan