I am so thrilled that I caught Face Value: West, created by Tracey Hoyt and Kate Ashby at the 2015 SummerWorks Festival at The Theatre Centre BMO Arts Incubator. I was intrigued to watch this “fully improvised experiment with photography” because it sounded like such a daringly awesome concept that, as a performer, would completely terrify me.
Unsurprisingly, the more than capable Tracey Hoyt knocks it out of the park.
Basically, the concept is that Hoyt sees one of Ashby’s projected photos, taken in and around the west end of Toronto. The clincher is that it is Hoyt’s first time seeing these photos. She then studies it briefly and brings the photo and people to life through improvisation. It is clear to me that Hoyt has impeccable improv skills.
I was fascinated watching her process the photos then situate herself. She completely embodied the characters and brought them to life right in front of our eyes. I was able to see her transform her breath and physicality to the character’s breath and physicality. It was her attention to detail that made it so much more real for me.
When she was done with a photo, she would give a nod and the next one would pop up and the process would begin again. We would get a sort of monologue from each of the characters, giving us insight into who they were and how they thought.
Sometimes, one of Ashby’s photos would pop up and would be comedy enough to make us giggle with anticipation as to how Hoyt would interpret it. It’s funny because as each new photo was revealed, I found myself interpreting them in my own mind, then being surprised by how Hoyt saw them. It was a revelation to think about how one person’s perceptions can be completely different from another’s.
I felt really immersed in this piece. Hoyt did an excellent job at weaving the stories of each of the characters together through flawless improvisation. She brought in some of her own personal stories too, which was an interesting way to tie in something personal to a story dependent on unknowable subjects.
I would greatly encourage people to get out to this show. It amazes me to think that she gets completely new photos every night, so the show is always different. You just know Hoyt had us all on board when during an improvised musical number in a fake foreign language, she got us singing along with her in perfect unison and somehow, we even knew the words! That’s a pretty strong super power to miss out on.
Remaining Show Times:
- Saturday, August 8th 5:30PM
- Sunday, August 9th 10:15PM
- Monday, August 10th 5:15PM
- Tuesday, August 11th 7:30PM
- Friday, August 14th 7:30PM
- Saturday, August 15th 8:00PM
- Sunday, August 16th 3:15PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free
$20. Tickets are available online at www.summerworks.ca, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo of Tracey Hoyt by Katherine Ashby