Â The Neanderthal Arts FestivalÂ atÂ The CultchÂ on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, was a 12 day festival taking place from July 21- July 31, 2011 featuring six summer productions. The theatre performances were experimental works that were meant to jolt audiences with it savvy pop-culture references.
Before the show, I had the opportunity to chat with one of the co-producers of the festival, who casually mentioned thatÂ The Gas HeartÂ was like “having a fist shoved up your ass”. I was completely puzzled and baffled by what he meant by this. I thought to myself: did he just describe the production using the words ‘fist’ and ‘ass’ in the same sentence? I was so stunned by his choice of words that I started to ponder exactly what kind of show I would be watching.
It turns out that what he said was TRUE! It wasn’t until the second act, that I realized that this was not your typical or, average play because there was no blunt storyline for the audience to follow. At first, I was slightly confused because I had no idea what was going on. After sudden musical outbreaks, which featured notorious songs from Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga, I came to the realization that this type of theatre was intentionally meant to be momentarily awkward! The script was meant to be witty and random, so that I could be stripped from my original theatrical comfort zone. At one point I couldn’t even control my laughter, as the main cast mates improved a fight scene, killing each other off, with their improvised lightsabers and chainsaws. I guess you could say this act really was “to die for” (yes, pun intended!).
One of my favourite moments in the production, happened when I witnessed a marriage proposal, when one of the cast members proposed to his long-term girlfriend. My mouth gasped in excitement when he pulled out a ring and knelled down on one knee. From being the stereotypical girl next door, I was about to cry, because it seemed like such a happy endingâ€¦until I found out that it was all a hoax, and actually part of the production. Only an awfully talented team of theatre artists can have the guts to meddle with my emotions in the most vulnerable of ways. The team responsible for putting on theÂ Neanderthal Arts FestivalÂ gets a pat on the back for creativity, originality and awkward moments.
Photo credit:Â www.thal.ca