One of the best things about SummerWorks is how it continually surprises us — and how often these surprises come from the unexpected places. The AMY Project‘s Aperture is just such a surprise. The opening-night audience was blown away by the depth and emotional intensity on display: how uncomfortable, yet how included, the audience was made to feel.
In a festival all about exploring, stretching, reconstructing and questioning, these young artists are punching above their weight.
Aperture works best when the performers — eight young women from mixed backgrounds — are frankly guiding us through their own experiences of growing up in a gendered culture. The hardest-hitting moments, in my estimation, are when the company fuses race, gender, age and sex appeal to look at how all of these phenomena interact, and what it feels like to grow into adulthood in a world which seems more interested in your labels — “exotic”, “black”, “edgy”, “feminist” — than in your identity.
There are weaker points. From where I sat, there were obvious seams between sequences: the performers (rightfully so!) seem more invested in their own material than they are in material written by others.
I’m also not totally sold on the framing device, nor — judging by the talkback — was the rest of the audience. It’s a clever idea, but it needs to be better-defined, and assuming the audience already understands the concepts being explored is probably a little ambitious.
But we can easily forgive this, because of the self-reflective sequence dealing with the difficulty of the word “feminist”; because of an uncomfortable but painfully necessary sequence dealing with Exotic Eastern Babes; because of a deeply personal monologue about remaking yourself in the image of people around you, even in a place which is meant to represent independence and opportunity; and because of a dozen or so other sequences, variously accusatory, funny, humiliating, revealing and profound.
This is student work. If you have a weak stomach for student work (slightly awkward, slightly earnest, technical hiccoughs, blunt declarations, etc.), stay away. But it’s rare that we get the opportunity to hear young people speaking for themselves, rather than having it filtered through drama teachers or pop songs or the writers of Degrassi Junior High. And if this material, or this idea, interest you at all, Aperture is definitely worth a $10 ticket for that fact alone.
- Aperture plays the Factory Studio (125 Bathurst St, enter through the beer garden) through August 10th.
- Remaining performances: August 8th at 1:45 PM; August 9th at 8:00 PM; August 10th at 4:45 PM.
- Tickets for Aperture are always $10, and can be purchased online, by phone at 888-328-8384, or from the festival box office in the beer garden at the Factory theatre. (125 Bathurst St.) Fees may apply to online and telephone orders.
- Be advised that this show features a frank retelling of an incident involving sexual abuse committed against a minor by a relative.
- Although this show’s content is suitable for all ages, the tone and subject matter may be difficult for young children. Recommended for ages 12 and up.