Spotlight on The Hottentot Venus – Untold and Lucila Al Mar
In the weeks leading up to the series, we are publishing a series of posts that spotlight the many different plays and events that will be part of TACTICS 2017. Read on to get the inside scoop on our programming!
We open in four weeks!!! Are you excited yet? Because I am! And I am especially excited to tell you a bit more about first two artists we are featuring in the series.
On April 20, TACTICS 2017 will open with 8thGeneration Performance’s gorgeous production of The Hottentot Venus – Untold, created and performed by Jacqui du Toit. And the very next evening, we are hosting Lucila al Mar‘s live concert and celebration of the release of her debut album, Nada es para siempre // Nothing is forever. These women both inspire me so much with their incredible talent, the authenticity of their unique voices in story and song, their commitment to social justice through their art, and their dedication to artistic excellence. Seriously, I am deeply honoured to have the chance to feature them and deeply grateful to them for their powerful work.
I first had the unlikely opportunity to hear about Jacqui’s piece about Sarah Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus,” on a road trip to Toronto. I had posted on kijiji for a rideshare, and I was delighted when the Jacqui who replied to my anonymous ad turned out to be the same Jacqui I’d met several times, but whose work I hadn’t had the chance to experience yet. On the trip, she told me she was working on a new storytelling theatre piece about this fascinating historical figure—one of the first indigenous South African women taken to Europe and put on display as part of a “freak show” in the early 1800s. I was absolutely fascinated, and the 4+ hours of that drive flew by.
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see the production when it was first staged at the Origin Arts & Community Centre, an intimate performance venue that Jacqui co-owns in Mechanicsville, with sound designed by Thabani Malaba. And when the production moved to the Gladstone for a 2-night engagement, I was happy to see this important story have the opportunity to reach a wider audience and expand technically to include a lighting design by David Magladry. And now, Jacqui is bringing this show to TACTICS, this time with a longer run in the venue and even more artistic support including the addition of Directorial Consultant Laurie Fyffe and Stage Manager Louisa Haché to her fantastic team. And at the centre of all this is Jacqui’s beautiful writing and performance, which I am so excited to see on the TACTICS mainstage.
And on Friday, April 21, we’ll have the first of our interdisciplinary special events, and we are thrilled to be hosting Lucila Al Mar’s album release celebration in Arts Court Studio, right after that evening’s mainstage performance. Lucila is one of Ottawa’s most exciting up-and-coming singer/songwriters. She’s a powerful performer with a gorgeous voice and insightful (often bilingual) lyrics that come straight from the heart. She performed live music in Naomi Tessler’s play (off) Balance, which TACTICS presented last year, and her compositions and live sound design were a beautiful, often haunting part of the production. I’ve had the chance to see her perform her own music live several times, and I know she has been working meticulously on getting every track of her first album just right. She usually performs solo, so this will be a special chance to see her backed by a full band. After the concert, there will be an after-party DJ’d by Chico6Trece, and I couldn’t think of a better way to launch TACTICS 2017!