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teMonrea thing

Mark Fisher discovers the joys that ensue when fact meets fiction in the heart of Quebec.

‘m alone. walking up a back alley in semi—suburban

Montreal. The route I’ve taken to get here has not been

my own. I've been taking directions from a (‘1): down a shopping street. past a playground. into a factory. under a bridge. Now I’m in this quiet back alley and all of a sudden a minibus pulls up in front of me. It is full ofclowns with funny noses. face paint and costumes. ()ne of the clowns jumps out with an air of urgency and runs to a door. Do I follow'.’ Should [join in'.’ Or do [just look on with hemusement'.’

I owe the first part of the experience »- the wandering around the streets bit to l-‘arine ()i‘plieline. a multi- disciplinary collective of artists on a mission to take over ‘the holes in the urban fabric’. lts production. (pinch/wiry (l'im potential iii/ini. has required me to take off from a record shop with a set of headphones and walk into the streets to watch fact blend with fiction.

With their soundtrack buzzing away in my cars. it is impossible to gauge whether I'm walking past an elaborate street theatre performance or jast real life. Mainly. it‘s real life. Mid—route I‘m directed into a building. up some stairs and into a workshop where I come across .leff liisher. a ()OS casualty with a prototype solar car and a host of rambling paranoid theories. He‘s a fictional creation. an actor improvising away. but credible enough to make me unsure.

116 THE LIST 1 15) Apr 2:;t;.:

The clowns. however. are just a coincidence. Their van just happens to pull up as I’m walking past. Farine ()ipheline makes its point without trying: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

The fact-fiction blur continues into the night. After ('oi'nridmu'r' (I'm: [mlt'liliul iii/ini part of the Nouvelles Scenes programme of last year‘s tenth biennial Festival de Theatre des Ameriques (PTA) I go to see a Polish production of ('lmnsw/ by Sarah Katie. the troubled British playwright who committed suicide in 199‘). a year after writing it. This brisk. punchy and disturbing play takes tip just 4-1 sparse pages in print. llere it‘s elongated to a tedious two- and-a—half hours without an interval. But just as I’m about to dismiss it as an evening misspent. I go down into the subway where a distraught young woman is clearly preparing tojump in front of the next train. Fortunately. she‘s restrained by a small army of police officers. But it does add a poignancy to the production.

Now I can‘t guarantee Montreal will be as transformative for you. but with a sequence of festivals that stretches throughout the summer. you‘re certain to find something to change your day.

The next l-TA will be in 2005. but the organisation keeps things ticking along with a smaller event called Theatres du


Francophone performances, wild 70$ architecture and eco-awareness: get them all in cosmopolitan Quebec