By Chris Illich
After fifteen years (and a one-year hiatus) of presenting their own ‘signature circus of derangement’ (Steve Remus for The Sound, Nov. 2015) the Niagara Artists Centre have rallied and put together their comeback, their resurgence, their evolution, of what was widely known as the Strutt Wearable Art Show.
Taking place at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre [PAC] November 18-19, Niagara Artists Centre’s [NAC] revival of the event will take form as the highly touted Voix de Ville Extravagonzo.
The prior incarnation of the event was held at the W.S. Tyler building on Ontario St. for the past four events. After being asked to move out of the venue, the NAC was forced to remap and remodel the event formally known as Strutt.
“We just realized that we can’t have this big event that exists in this kind of purgatory where we don’t really know where it’s going to be year after year. We needed a permanent home for the event,” said Steve Remus, Minister of Energy, Minds, and Resource for the NAC.
“So, we got a commitment from the PAC and had to figure out how to match the event to the venue. Near the end of Strutt, the event had become equal parts music, dance, acrobatics and wearable art, so we decided to get rid of the runway and the relation to the fashion world — which is pretty messed up and confused — and just make it a straight stage production and keep the wearable art.”
As stated on the Voix de Ville website, the name of the event “loosely translates from French to English as, ‘the voice of the town’. It originated in New Orleans and eventually became ‘vaudeville’”. It’s the origin of the spectacle of entertainment, seamlessly moving from one act to another.
Voix de Ville will be soundtracked by the Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and will be hosted by Bruce McCulloch (a member of the legendary Kids in the Hall, and most recently Death Comes to Town). There will be dancing, there will be singing, there will be circus elements, there will be acrobatics and — most importantly — there will be wearable art, created by artists from our community.
“To be honest, we didn’t get as many submissions as we did in the past. But, I think that’s because we broke the continuity when we rebranded it. So, people were a little less certain as to what was happening,” said Remus.
“But, people are super keen, people really get into this event, and a lot of people really stepped it up and we’re going to have some great stuff. The wearable art is going to be as strong as ever.”
While Strutt was at the W.S. Tyler building, the event felt carnival-esque in nature. It was a giant wearable art fashion party that every year brought out approximately 2,000 people to it of varying ages and walks of life.
Blending all of the elements together to present a cohesive performance, in the beautiful sit-down theatre in Partridge Hall, while still preserving the atmosphere will be a challenge to overcome. They want to bring the theatre to life.
“We don’t want it to be a static thing where the audience is just there judging the performance. We have been thinking of the squareness of the space. It’s where the symphony performs, right? There’s some sense of opulence with all the red oak, it’s not really the kind of place that makes you want to jump up and down. You kind of have to strap yourself in and behave,” Remus said.
“People got the sense in the past that it was kind of like a small-scale Mardi Gras. So, there will be an after party. There were always people who would go to the show, watch it, then leave. But, then there were people who would stay until four in the morning, who were just there for the party. The after party provides that rave up for people who want a little bit more than the show.”
The after parties will take place in Robertson Theatre on Friday night featuring Team Wolf (DJ Tanner & DJ Stiles) and The Sadies will be performing on Saturday night.
Tickets are available at firstonatariopac.ca. More information about the event can be found at voixdeville.ca [S]