I enjoyed seeing TJ Dawe in Medicine last year at the Firehall Arts Centre, so I decided to check out “The Fugue Fugue”, one of a series of short “micro performance” productions that are the hallmark of Boca del Lupo. The play is 20 minutes of intense multimedia monologue, performed in a cramped space on Granville Island, with skillful use of surround-screen projection and sound.
One inspiration for this play was TJ’s discovery of Stephen Malinowski’s animation that delineates the voices in Bach’s Little Fugure in G Minor, and lays bare the fugue form, where the various voices are all playing together on variations of the same theme.
TJ Dawe then noticed how the fugue form is, in fact, incredibly pervasive in literature and film, even in comics and TV series. Most of the ideas that TJ Dawe presents in are found in an essay he wrote a couple years ago: The Fugue Fugue. Aldous Huxley draws on this concept with the title of his novel “Point, Counterpoint”, which follows the lives of several, apparently unconnected characters in London (the concept of “counterpoint” is closely related to the fugue). TJ realized that his own writing often used the form of interwoven separate monologues, essentially a fugue in prose.
I related to what TJ was saying, as last fall, I heard Tomson Highway describe how he conceived of his play “Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing” as being a fugue in eight voices. I also thought about turntablism (in the Q&A, TJ mentioned the documentary “Scratch”).
Part of the joy of this production is observing TJ Dawe’s enthusiastic, almost naive discovery of how so many forms of art that he loves (including Watchmen comics) all use a similar underlying form. The production itself becomes a multi-threaded piece, as it is impossible to watch every wall at once, and listen to every sound. You have to make a choice, and so the work will be different for every attendee. The production is selling out for many performances, so buy your ticket quickly (and it ends February 16).
TJ Dawe is currently working on an expansion of this piece with a collaborator, and I look forward to that incarnation as well. This version will focus more on the idea of the fugue as an inevitable multi-tasking component of modern-day life. TJ touched on this concept in this performance, but with a 20-minute production, there was not sufficient time to explore it.