You are invited into a maze where you wander freely, encountering the four elements, their environments, and tiny art installations depicting anything from police brutality to pollution.
Welcome to the Eldritch Designs Collective’s Paths, playing at the Artscape Youngplace Studio 109 as part of the Toronto 2017 SummerWorks Festival: a fully immersive live art performance.
The walls are white plastic/paper, taped together with reflective tape. In some areas, cloth hangs down, in others there are fog machines, and sound plays over all of it.
In theory, you enter the maze with a group of six and have half an hour to explore. Once inside, everything is at your discretion—even leaving—until you are collected at the end of the time period. I ended up entering alone. There were a few others around but in the first couple of minutes I only found two of the performers and had visited most of the installations.
Although I’d read the Eldritch Designs Collective’s description of the performance, I didn’t connect any of their environmental themes until I saw the credits on a blackboard as I exited.
Each performer embodied their element: Jasmyn Fyffe and Jasmyn Witten alternating as Earth, Ana Groppler as Fire, Pulga Muchochoma as Water, and Mateo Galindo Torres as Air. In hindsight, I made some connections to the paint streaks on the performer’s arms and select installations, but in the moment, it was vague. In some ways, Paths was too subjective in execution, not quite able to highlight its own definitive point of view–or, path, if you’ll excuse the joke.
At times, the actors came together in startling, intimate moments that were both pleasantly awkward for the audience member (there is little distance between you and the actors, though they are respectful of your space). One that comes to mind was a meeting between dancers wherein a piece of cloth brought them together and resulted in a very tender movement, subsequently evolving and changing as myself and two other audience members watched in a small space.
And then there were other areas where the performances felt less impactful. Despite the hard work of the artists, I couldn’t find any reason to actually relate to the connection I think they wanted me to have. It didn’t help that I felt really isolated for a lot of the experience.
As live art, it isn’t bad, but it hasn’t quite found a way to work with the size of its themes, its physical space, and its running time. It’s too bare for thirty minutes and has too many ideas for the running time. While interesting, Paths failed to resonate for me, and lost itself along the way.
Paths plays at the Artscape Youngplace Studio 109 (180 Shaw Street.
Saturday August 5th 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Saturday August 5th 6:00pm – 6:30pm
Saturday August 5th 6:30pm – 7:00pm
Saturday August 5th 7:00pm – 7:30pm
Saturday August 5th 8:30pm – 9:00pm
Saturday August 5th 9:00pm – 9:30pm
Saturday August 5th 9:30pm – 10:00pm
Sunday August 6th 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday August 6th 6:00pm – 6:30pm
Sunday August 6th 6:30pm – 7:00pm
Sunday August 6th 7:00pm – 7:30pm
Sunday August 6th 8:30pm – 9:00pm
Sunday August 6th 9:00pm – 9:30pm
Sunday August 6th 9:30pm – 10:00pm
SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.
Audience Advisory: Be advised that this show has audience participation, haze, and dim lighting. Recommended for ages 13+. No latecomers will be allowed into this performance
Photo by Aria Evans