A Side of Dreams (Paper Canoe Projects) 2013 SummerWorks Review

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Dreamcatchers. I have one, a pretty black and gray one studded with smokey quartz crystals and feathers, purchased from a childhood trip to Collingwood. Like many I didn’t put much thought into purchasing or owning one aside from it being a neat souvenir. But the dreamcatcher takes on a whole new significance in A Side of Dreams during this year’s SummerWorks festival. The spirit of the dreamcatcher is triggered in a single mother’s search for identity and heritage. 

This hour-long performance is evocative and visually beautiful, the story is not linear nor is it simply actors on a stage telling a story – song, dance, puppetry, masks, aerial hoops, stilts, projected imagery, and music drive the performance to an ethereal dream-like world.

A Side of Dreams is written by and stars Jani Lauzon, a woman of Métis descent who takes the helm playing multiple integral roles in the story. Her under lying role is the mother (her daughter is the marionette seen throughout) who teaches her daughter the value of keeping her dreams alive and well despite the societal pitfalls of being of Native heritage in the modern city.

Her lessons for her daughter send Lauzon on her own spirit journey where she encounters the ancestors of her past and the unexpected lessons they have to teach her.

I’m forever intrigued by puppetry – how a doll can come to life with very subtle and minute gestures from the puppeteer. So when I see a puppet on stage, I keep an eye on it, see how it comes to life, interacts with the other live actors and if it’s believable. Also, how the puppeteer moves seamlessly with the other actors to not cause confusion for the audience. In this performance, it was incredibly well done. The “daughter” walked, danced, flew, swam, and emoted – clearly emoted- incredibly well.

I was also compelled by the stunning use of aerial hoops, beautiful cinematic music and songs both original and traditional. Many years ago I first heard the traditional Dreamcatcher Song and hadn’t remembered or thought about it until hearing it again now. It inspired warm memories.

However, I found myself pulled away during the bat spirit scene. The mask itself was rather cartoonish and I had difficulty taking it or its words seriously. The ongoing sneezing gag didn’t help either.

This performance is a great theatre piece as well as movement piece and incorporates many of the things that I love about a live story. It’s well worth including in your SummerWorks schedule this year.

Details

  • A Side of Dreams is playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace.
  • Performances are Thursday August 8 at 3:00 pm; Friday August 9 at 5:30 pm; Sunday August 11 at 3:00 pm; Wednesday August 14 at 12:30 pm; Thursday August 15 at 5:30 pm; Friday August 16 at 8:00 pm; Saturday August 17 at 12:30 pm.
  • All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-915-6747 and at the Lower Ossington Box Office (100A Ossington Avenue, first floor) Aug. 6-18 10AM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee).
  • Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.

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