“Porno Death Cult”, a solo work by Tara Cheyenne, premiering at the Firehall (March 5-8, 2014)

This work fuses dance, the arts, theatre, and music into a single artistic whole. I’m of two minds about the title. I find myself reluctant and embarrassed to type it, and I worry my blog will get blocked. On the other hand, the title hints at a subversive perspective.

Porno Death Cult is one of Friedenberg’s most personal works yet, delving deeper into human trauma. “It certainly mines more of myself”, she observes. In 2010 she walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route through Southern France and Spain, which prompted her to examine her own skepticism about religion and her relationship with spirituality. While not religious herself, she was fascinated with the theatricality of the opulent, gilded Spanish cathedrals and the huge statues of the bleeding Jesus. In the piece she draws on elements of her own lived experience – the contradictions of West Coast yoga culture (she’s been practicing yoga since she was 3 years old), southern Baptist traditions of North Carolina where her father lives, and the questions that walking the Camino raised for her.

Perhaps “death cult” refers to the glorification of gruesome images of a deified, dying man. What then does “porno” refer to? Perhaps the graphic nature of the images? Maybe I’ll just have to see the production to find out. If you are interested in other offbeat accounts of walking the Camino, I recommend the book, “What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim”.

The team behind this work is impressive:

Infused with Friedenberg’s signature humour and pathos, Porno Death Cult, draws on a diverse range of talented collaborators to create an immersive live experience where dance, art and theatre converge. Director Marcus Youssef (Neworld Theatre) lends his unique style and impeccable eye to this idiosyncratic fusion of text, dance, character, and prayer for something better. Visual artist Mickey Meads’ life-sized altar sculpture sets the scene, while Alice Mansell (whose extravagant costumes featured in Highgate) returns as costume designer. Mansell and Meads have also created a special mixed-media installation that echoes the characters on stage and converts the Firehall lobby into a temple. Porno Death Cult is completed with the irreverent sounds of composer Marc Stewart, sinful illumination by James Proudfoot, outside dance eyes from Justine A. Chambers and Susan Elliott (Highgate) and Kim Stevenson, assistant to the choreographer.

Just seeing Marcus Youssef’s name attached to this makes me want to go. As for Tara Cheyenne herself:

ABOUT TARA CHEYENNE FRIEDENBERG

“insanely funny” and “imaginative genius” – Janet Smith, Georgia Straight

“Mighty talent” – Marsha Lederman, Globe and Mail

Vancouver based Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg started dancing at age 3, went to ballet school, theatre school at the University of Calgary and attained a dance degree from Simon Fraser University. She creates highly physical, character-driven performances that blend movement and text, dance and theatre. Her solo creations (bANGER-The Power HourNick & Juanita-Livin’ in my Dreams both awarded People’s Choice at the Dancing on the Edge Festival) have been presented across Canada, in the US, Belgium and London UK. Tara has been nominated for several Jessie Richardson Awards and an Ovation Award for her choreography in theatre. She is the Artistic Director of Tara Cheyenne Performance.

More info: taracheyenne.com

In addition to the show, there is a free art exhibition too.

PDC: In Progress

Running parallel to Porno Death Cult, PDC: In Progress is a mixed media installation by visual artists Alice Mansell and Mickey Meads that echoes the characters on stage.

FREE! Wednesday – Sat 1-5pm                   |     Opening reception: Thurs Feb 27, 5:30 – 7pm

LISTINGS INFO:

Porno Death Cult | March 5-8, 8pm at Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova

Tickets $20 – $30 from www.firehallartscentre.ca | 604-689-0926

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