From left: Mercedeh Baroque, Jacqueline van de Geer, Ilana Zackon, Lyne Labrie
Project X Performance, a new social issue based theatre company run by local emerging actors Ilana Zackon, Shannon Leibinger and Shannon Carranco, will be premiering its first show, Part I this coming June in the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Part I is a bilingual performance exploring the themes of mental health and the silent struggle through a variety of performance mediums, based on the real life experiences of those directly involved in the creation of the piece. The performances will be taking place in the newly renovated Bliss Gallery. Located in the heart of the Fringe, a few steps away from Schwartz’s, Bliss Gallery will showcase a visual art exhibit during the show’s run, making this the first ever collaboration between the Fringe Festival and Mural Festival. Donations will be raised for Expressions LaSalle.
Project X Performance came to be when Zackon returned to Montreal in the spring of 2014 – having a spent a difficult year continuing her training in New York City, upon graduating from John Abbott College’s Professional Theatre program (JAC). Recovering from eight months of depression, anxiety and an eating disorder, Zackon was taken aback at the serious lack of subsidized or free mental health services available in Montreal. From this emerged Project X Performance, a theatre company dedicated to raising awareness of various social issues while simultaneously raising money for corresponding charity organizations. The public will have the opportunity to ‘donate’ their stories in order to provide material for the company’s multidisciplinary productions.
“Two years ago, when I created this project, very few people were publically talking about mental health,” says Zackon. “All of a sudden, the Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign started and my Facebook feed was bursting with videos and testimonials working to erase the stigma. Excited, I knew it was time.” The company is now comprised of eighteen people and continues to grow every day.
Expressions LaSalle is the only creative arts therapy center in Montreal that offers free, bilingual services to those suffering from mental health issues. The center offers art, drama, music and relaxation therapy, as well as art therapy for those who have suffered sexual abuse. With Project X’s help, Expressions LaSalle hopes to expand their services by hiring more creative therapists and providing more hours for their current employees, thereby shortening the wait list for clients. A representative from the center will be present at every performance of Part I to answer any questions. Tax receipts will be provided for donations over fifty dollars.
Part I features four women of diverse backgrounds: Jacqueline van de Geer, a performance artist from the Netherlands who has been creating her own work for decades; Mercedeh Baroque, an Albertan film-maker, visual artist and Theatre of the Oppressed performer of Turko-Mongolian descent; Lyne Labrie, a Quebecoise native with a background in action theatre and performance in French; as well as Zackon, who will be performing in and directing the piece. “One in five people will experience a mental illness during his or her life,” expresses performer Labrie. “I think there are still too many prejudices and I believe that with Part I, we can undo some of these preconceived ideas.”
Elisha Conway, Carranco and Zackon’s former theatre history teacher, currently writing her thesis in theatre studies, will be the dramaturge. Performer and movement coach Melanie Sirois (Playshed’s Cock, Centaur Theatre’s The Envelope) will provide an outside eye to the director and assist with dance and movement. Additionally, Joseph Browne, who recently worked on Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre’s Bar Kapra the Squirrel Hunter, will be doing sound design, and Chana Ellman, well known in the Fringe community, will stage manage. “I found this play really appealing because one of the ideas of Part I is to see the positive light, the recovery and the healing,” says Ellman.
Project X Performance aims to raise awareness about stigmatized social issues through the development and presentation of original performances inspired by true stories. It’s time to start the conversation through art.
Part I – Project X Performance at the St-Ambroise Montréal OFF-Fringe Festival
Bliss Gallery, 3845 St. Laurent Bilingual
Dates: Sat. June 4 – Sun. June 19 at 8pm, with the exception of Sun. June 5th at 2pm
Tickets: $10 (+$2 service charge) To purchase: 514 849-FEST (3378) Or online at www.montrealfringe.ca
During the Festival: Tickets also available at the box office located at FRINGE Park (corner Rachel and St-Laurent) or at Bliss Gallery as of one hour before show time.
For more information and company bios visit: http://projectxtheatre.org