The Fringe Festival is like the world’s most unusual buffet – a weird and exciting theatrical space where you can find the ridiculous, the honest and the extreme (sometimes all in one). It’s a place where no filter exists between the artist and the audience, where unpolished but beautifully truthful art becomes displayed without limitations. That’s the strength and weakness of the festival, you never know what you’re going to get – but that’s also the fun, you never know what you’re going to get!
Enter Joy Ross-Jones and her one woman mask show entitled “Elsewhere” (directed by Cristina Cugliandro) . It’s about the Venezuelan crisis and Joy uses masks and storytelling to explore the lives of six different characters affected by the very present day events.
“It’s a tragicomedy of sorts,” Joy tells me,” It’s based off of a couple of conversation topics I wanted to dive into. I wanted to explore my identity in relation to being a Venezuelan-Canadian feeling very far away from my Venezuelan roots, and I wanted to talk about the rapidly worsening living conditions in Venezuela that have led to 50 days of non-stop, violently repressed protests, which continue today.”
Indeed, many are unaware about the current events taking place in Venezuela (believe it or not, things are happening around the world that do not involve Donald Trump). Replace your image of picture perfect beaches with bloody protests and the highest rate of inflation in the world and you begin to get an idea why Joy felt compelled to tell this story. “”I’ll often find myself wanting to cry during or after a run through, because creating this play forces me to really, deeply empathize with what is happening, and sometimes, it hits me so hard that it takes me out of character. Then I have to really wrangle my emotions back into the moment with that person. It’s not easy to be working with content that is this close to me, but it is worth it.”
The Fringe Festival is a place where new works (read: relevant and timely material) face little hurdles between conception and performance and “Elsewhere” promises to be a show that is very much about the “now”. “What’s kind of crazy about Elsewhere is how topical it is. When I started creating the show in October, I never anticipated how rapidly the situation in Venezuela would be changing, and how much harder I would have to work to keep up. So I’ve constantly been incorporating current news that would be affecting the lives of these characters into the script. This makes the content very personal, fresh and painful at times. It requires that I be able to improvise with the script.” Joy is quick to add, “The improv is really fun because I’m using masks, which means that my characters are larger than life and often ridiculous. It’s a real treat to be able to follow my own impulses and I think it brings a lot of levity to what could be a really downer play. Trust me, it’s funny!”
Thursday June 1st @ 7:00 pm
Friday June 2nd @ 7:00 pm
Saturday June 3rd @ 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm
Sunday June 4th @ 7:00 pm
NO SHOW JUNE 5th
Tuesday June 6th @ 7:00 pm
Wednesday June 7th @ 7:00 pm
Thursday June 8th @ 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
General admission: $10.50
Tickets: 514-849-FEST or https://montrealfringe.ca/shop/
Rialto Studio – 5723 Park Ave, Montreal, QC H2V 4G9