Friday, I had the pleasure of experiencing Skin Songs, TACTICS’ latest MainStage production. I use the word “experience” on purpose, because this is not a show that you simply sit and watch. Allow me to explain.
We arrive at beautiful Strathcona park and we spot the performers warming up and stretching around a picnic table in the middle of the park. We approach and admit that we only just read the fine print on the ticket that instructed us to bring headphones or earbuds and so we failed to bring any. They have extras but unfortunately, none that are compatible with our iPhones. Alas, our only option is to hold our phones to our ears for the performance, and though this doesn’t detract from the experience, I can only imagine how much having headphones would have enhanced it. (So, note to future audience members: don’t forget your headphones!)
The piece begins with the performers introducing themselves and encouraging us to follow them closely as they move through the park. Then, the music begins in earnest accompanied by recordings of the performers sharing their own personal stories of “living female”. We are all listening on our own devices, connected through a Zoom call and in this way, the performers are able to sync their stylized movements to the storytelling and the audience is fully immersed in the soundscape of the piece.
As we move through the park, beckoned playfully by the performers, we listen to four distinct stories of femmehood. The performers all stand out for different reasons. Jaqui du Toit moves with a captivating grace and confidence. Eleanor Crowder’s storytelling is poetic and soulful. Jessica Ruano’s playful approach to the work can’t help but make you smile. And Lola Ryan’s vulnerability is a beautiful thing to behold. In fact, all of the stories shared are quite personal and vulnerable, which is why the piece is so moving.
There is something special about being in a public space and hearing private stories. It’s like being let in on a delicious secret. If you want to be let in on it too, Skin Songs plays until June 11th. Get your tickets at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/skin-songs-tickets-568627368767
Written for Covert Ottawa Guy by: JB