Patrick Blenkarn on "Soliloquy in English"

Part reading circle, part documentary, and part handmade art object created from the ruins of an Oxford Dictionary, Soliloquy in English is a book for multiple voices about the language that connects them.

In each performance, Vancouver-based artist Patrick Blenkarn invites a small group of readers to participate in reading the book out loud, passing it from hand to hand and voice to voice. In doing so, the readers bring to life a collage of stories—interviews with the artist's friends, family, and mentors—about what it means to share and live in the English language today—the dreams it makes possible and the marks it can leave behind. Soliloquy in English is Blenkarn’s attempt to pull this lingua franca back upon itself, to get us talking about how we are talking.

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Five Questions: "okay.odd."

We asked Milton Lim five questions about his new piece okay.odd., which premieres at the rEvolver Festival May 12 - 21, 2016 at the Cultch. Milton is also an artistic associate at Theatre Conspiracy.

Based on the tenets of concentration, mindfulness, and visualization, okay.odd. is a multimedia meditation session that guides you through a stream of consciousness. It traverses the space between thought and perception; knowing and unknowing; real and imagined; proximal and tangential.

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Guilty until further notice

IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS, I've read a stellar novel, an amazingly detailed investigative piece, and now a shattering memoir about what happens when the machinery of fighting terrorism grinds innocents into victims. This subject is at the heart of Theatre Conspiracy's new play, Foreign Radical.

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Foreign Radical: fun and fascination

Foreign Radical is a game so of course competition drives the piece. The heart of it, however, is something far more complex: the collective story of each audience that gathers to play.

Each show is radically different depending on who shows up. They leave the theatre (in this case, shipping containers) knowing each other quite intimately — for people who just met an hour before. They have profiled each other, spied on each other, debated in teams, raced each other to the finish line and shared some empathy or disdain.

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Foreign Radical: Are You Game?

Foreign Radical is not a video game, board, or schoolyard sport. It’s a game that happens in a radical theatrical environment where your feet are your joystick and your thoughts and motivations are the buttons to take action. You can be in the driver’s seat of political activism, or take the nearest exit off the infobahn as you consider the repercussions of your public cries for freedom.

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Foreign Radical: Designing the Game

If you attended Theatre Conspiracy’s previous documentary-style theatre show, Extraction, you might recall that the audience was asked a similar series of content-related survey questions throughout the performance. This time we’re taking questions into new territory through audience inclusion and significant consequences — Foreign Radical will concurrently operate as both a documentary theatre piece and an immersive game. As audience members, you are no longer observing, you are the players of the game.

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Gaming and Theatre

In her research for Foreign Radical, Kathleen read the book This Machine Kills Secrets and came across a party game that cryptographers played while inventing encryption techniques that would soon become industry standard (onion routing, torrents). These radicals were inventing the building blocks of secure communication, file sharing, e-commerce and, of course, whistle-blowing.

In the game, players wrote a secret on a piece of paper, put it in a sealed envelope and then routed the envelopes between individuals who either sought to maintain or expose the secret.

For Foreign Radical, we are adapting the game because it has great potential for theatrical application and audience interactivity:

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5 questions: Tanya Marquardt on Duets for One

On the 5th anniversary of Club PuSh,we ask Club artists five questions.

Tanya Marquardt has worked with various forms including theatre, dance, site-specific installation, performance art, noise music and poetry. In mixing forms she finds something new and unexpected, something that she wants to share with her community, colleagues and friends.

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PuSh | Club PuSh: conception to delivery

My wife and I are at the opening of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, 10th anniversary edition, and PuSh founding board member Jane Heyman has asked us all to introduce ourselves to a stranger by telling them about our connection to PuSh. I’m talking to a group, some I know and some I don’t, about my wife Lainé Slater’s ambition, with colleague Norman Armour, to help to build a Vancouver international theatre festival. Lainé was eight months pregnant. Maybe she was joking about her near-term future when she suggested the word “push” to Norman as a possible name.

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Club PuSh: Five Fabulous Years!

Club PuSh opens tonight — the fifth program of new performance that thrives in a bar environment — as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

PuSh has made a lot happen in a decade, growing from a trio of presentations in 2004 drawing an audience in the hundreds to a program of 30, including those at the Club in 2014. Last year, PuSh attendance hit 34,000.

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Getting in the Game: notes from a mixed reality

We’re all in the same boat, and as Leonard Cohen says, “everybody knows”.

If you’ve tuned into the news about cyberspace over the last couple of years, you realize we’re all being tracked, tagged, and titillated/distracted just enough to maintain the status quo. You’re still free to dismiss this as conspiracy but everyone knows that under the scrutiny of the puppeteers gerrymandering the Harpers, Obamas, Camerons and Merkels of the world, people displaying political agency outside the true party line are summarily placed in the ‘radical’ category and subjected to extraordinary surveillance and harassment.

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Cyber warfare sleuthing satisfies research addict

I’m a research addict — by profession.

Imagine all the news or scholarship, cartoons or rants about cyber surveillance, censorship and the military industrial complex/security apparatus, hacking, wikileaks, and paranoia — I’m dedicated to absorbing every crumb.

As dramaturg for Foreign Radical I have licence to listen to Glenn Greenwaldtalk about Edward Snowdon (“research”), try to wrap my head around how one enters a trap door in a computer program and snatches material (“working!”), read Jason Ng’s book “Blocked on Weibo”   and watch videos on Egyptian graffiti (“really, working”).  The trick is to avoid following only the conversations or intellectual paths I agree with.

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Privacy's pricetag

How soon until we think of privacy as just a product, rather than a right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea since starting research on Foreign Radical. And I’ve been thinking more about it since seeing a photo of Obama in his privacy tent recently. When he’s on the road, the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility is set up in his hotel room, a special shield against the prying eyes and ears of oppressive regimes, allies, media and, probably, staff — all of whom have books to write upon leaving the White House.

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