I’m A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me? (Lois Brown) 2019 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Lois Brown in I'm a Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me

I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me is a piece of performance art, melded with storytelling. Created by Lois Brown and composer James O’Callaghan, it’s taking place as part of Summerworks 2019, and you can catch it at the Longboat Hall in The Great Hall.

Though this show isn’t the kind of thing I normally gravitate towards, it was a very satisfying experience. I also think it fulfilled what it set out to do, engage the audience in its sonic improvisations throughout.

I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me opens with artist Lois Brown dragging a microphone across the concrete floor, toying with the sounds it creates over the speakers. Over the course of the performance, she’d go on to create many more sounds. Most of them had a neat ASMR quality to them, some were less than pleasant, but all of them were interesting.

Lois expressed concern that we might get bored during the improvisations and so timed them to three minutes. I was never bored. The audience observed the performance with a childlike curiosity. I wanted to know how Lois would use each new ‘toy’ she picked up: foil, plastic, dictionaries and a few other things.

Sometimes, James O’Callaghan would emerge on stage to join Lois in creating the strange cacophony that makes up I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me. One of the most memorable parts for me was when he adjusted sound levels while crinkling a plastic bag into the microphone. Even with the simplicity of the sounds, I could hear the technical skill behind it.

Lois’ storytelling sits at the heart of the piece. She has an offbeat sense of humour that I really appreciated. While she opens with quotes, the things she shares between improvisations become steadily more personal until the end when she finally bares her heart to the audience.

More than half of the audience stayed back for the Q&A, and I think that says a lot about how they received the piece. I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me won’t be for everyone, but I do recommend it for those willing to experience something completely different.

This review is a snapshot of the first performance of a work-in-progress. The production is one of several pieces at the festival presented as part of the SummerWorks Lab programming introduced in 2018. The participants in SW Lab are still in the development process and will continue to evolve throughout the festival.

Details:
I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me is playing at The Longboat Hall at The Great Hall (1087 Queen St. West).
Performances:
  • Monday August 12th 7:15pm – 8:30pm
  • Tuesday August 13th 7:30pm – 8:45pm
  • Thursday August 15th 5:00pm – 6:15pm
Warnings: Audience participation and loud noises
 
SummerWorks tickets uses a Pay What You Decide system for every show: $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level.
Advance tickets are available up until 3 hours before show time and can be purchased as follows: Online, using the Buy Ticket link found on every show page; In person at the main SummerWorks Festival Box Office the Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West) – open August 8-18 from 12pm-8pm. Tickets purchased in advance are subject to a convenience fee of $2.50/ticket. Any remaining tickets will be made available for sale at the performance venue starting 1 hour before show time. Venue box offices accept cash only.
Money saving passes are available if you are planning on seeing at least 4 shows.
Photo of Lois Brown by Kenneth J. Harvey.