Now here’s a tricky story. I am writing about something that needs to be kept secret. Usually, when art is reviewed, it is with the intention to build understanding of the work itself. In Asphalt Jungle Shorts X – The Deca Dance – part of IMPACT13, the secrecy is an important part of this site-specific show – to put it simply, it’s the 10th instalment of this popular show, and the cloak has not been lifted.
The evening starts at the Misty Mountain Cafe on Queen St across from the Walper Terrace Hotel. The audience enters the venue and then… no… I can’t tell you that.
So then the audience leaves and goes to… urm… I can’t tell you that either.
Asphalt Jungle Shorts, a scathingly brilliant idea directed by Paddy Gillard-Bentley (Flush Ink Productions), is a series of short plays that are submitted and chosen from all over the world – including local writer Gary Kirkham. They range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes in length and weave the audience through clever, humourous and sometimes thoughtful narratives presented by a cast of professional actors including Tracey Eccleston, Nicholas Cumming, Katharine Mills and Robin Bennett.
The best thing about this show is stated in its tag line: It is the intersection between art and reality. Sometimes things happen in the course of this show where – as an audience member – one is never sure if what they saw was a play, or one of the amazing things that happen in everyday life. The act of looking shifts from passing through a city as a pedestrian to actively seeking moments of theatre as they emerge from alleys and other unexpected places.
The reclamation of streets and alleys is important for safety and the feeling of security in a city – the placing of art embodied through actors and audience in the streets and alleys is an instrument in transforming dark and sometimes maligned spaces into energetic, habitable and alive parts of a city. Art builds more than an apology in darkened locations of neglect and in this show, the city streets come alive in an unique way, celebrating the possibility of better narratives to come.
It may just be theatre, but the unification of space and narrative allows the exploration of areas that are not only pertinent to the life of a city, but also allows the mind to capture them in ways that opens the imagination.
The audience bonds with one-another as the feeling of having experienced something together pulls at our desires, hopes, and dreams, teasing us to join each other and only breaking the journey when we all leave for the night. You can come alone, and leave with friends. It’s just that kind of show.
So how does one find these amazing stories strewn about the downtown streets? Other than showing up at Misty Mountain, and joining the rest of an audience there… this is another thing I cannot tell you. And even more important is that when you are let in on the secret, you can’t tell anyone else either.