Brain Storm is a production devised by Lucid Ludic in partnership with BIST (Brain Injury Society of Toronto) in this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. Brain Storm explores the notion of a conscious mind that can survive the physical brain. It’s kind of the ultimate question, isn’t it? Brain Storm is such a visually arresting and intellectually compelling creation that even the less spiritually-inclined may be moved to entertain the idea of a soul.
Brain Storm is full of fluid physicality, subtlety of motion, and altered ways of conveying sound and language. The set design was particularly ingenious, and the precision and care that went into this performance, on every level, makes for the most polished of shows.
A particular scene I found myself marvelling at involved the cast viscerally conveying the symptoms of brain-injury patients, something that is typically only felt internally, “invisible” symptoms — symptoms that no one else would notice– and managed to have a whole audience experiencing it from the patient’s point of view!
Kate, post-surgery and recently discharged from the hospital, was at a coffee shop with a friend– but her nausea, anxiety, and general over-sensitivity to the stimuli of her environment grabbed hold. What followed was an ethereal sequence of women clad in white surgeon gowns, using movement and mime to alter your sense of perception so that you feel it as Kate feels it.
These women in white surgeon-gowns morph into various roles – whether it be moving set pieces, or interpreting and enhancing a conversation with bodily gestures and facial expressions– they’re rather omnipresent. A kind of surgeon-spirit if you will. I also imagine that they’d have a big part in making this show more accessible to anyone who has different sensory perception capabilities.
Brain Storm is careful not to suggest that brain injuries be romanticized. But, it eventually does offer a kind of hope. As despairing as it is to lose an ability that has helped form your sense of selfhood, to be able to perhaps perceive a ‘disability’ as a ‘different ability’, is incredibly empowering. Brain Storm asks that we see difference as a gift– a gift that opens up the possibility of using a unique sensory perspective to create something beautiful.
This production helps us rethink what it might mean to have a mind from the perspective a brain-injury survivor. If you’re interested in the idea of a soul, and that intersection where mysticism meets science, then this show is for you!
- Brain Storm plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in the very front row.
- Wednesday July 5th, 07:00 pm
- Friday July 7th, 09:45 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 12:00 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 06:15 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 11:30 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 01:45 pm
- **July 13th will be our Relaxed Performance. Relaxed Performances are for the benefit of audiences members with sensory and/or communication disorders. The integrity of Brain Storm will absolutely be maintained.
- Saturday July 15th, 07:00 pm
Photo of Alexandra Montagnese, Maïza Dubhé, Shayna Virginillo, Hayley Carr by Dahlia Katz.