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MDLSX and the Progress: International Festival of Performance and Ideas - Drew Rowsome - 416 Scene - MyGayToronto

MDLSX and the Progress: International Festival of Performance and Ideas
03 February 2018


It is a shame that by the time most of you read this piece, you will already have missed your chance to experience MDLSX (tonight - Sat, Feb 3, 2018 - is the last performance of three). But that's how festival's work, rare opportunities have to be grabbed at when they occur. MDLSX is here as part of the Progress: International Festival of Performance and Ideas, a festival dedicated to theatre that is questing for new forms and ways of conveying themes and stories. 

MDLSX is a slick eye-popping multi-media performance designed to make us believe it is ramshackle. The narrative is similarly unreliable: MDLSX presents as autobiographical but is actually a vehicle for a truly astounding performance by actress Sylvia Calderoni. What begins as a somewhat familiar presentation by a gender/sexuality non-conformist, twists into a exploration of the same. Calderoni is stunningly androgynous in appearance, and as she/he/they caper about the stage, shedding and donning clothes of all styles including aquatic, the infectious enthusiasm and deep pain exhibited is irresistible.

The home videos may be partially real and taken from Calderoni's past, but the presentation is by a character who speaks only Italian while the story is set in the US of A. There are clues but the deception, which is complete, is thematically crucial and being conned is part of the experience. I am loathe to give spoilers, but Calderoni is a force of nature as she rocks out to a great soundtrack, narrates and shares secrets in a multitude of voices, and creates indelible images with lasers and hairspray.

Unfamiliar with either Motus and Calderoni, who are quite renowned internationally, I had taken a chance on MDLSX and it paid off. Next up (and hopefully to be featured here shortly) is the renowned British drag artist Dickie Beau in his production LOST in TRANS. Goggling Beau created acute embarrassment: he is an artist I should have known about and am now rabid to actually see, hear and experience. 

Progress runs all month with a wild variety of riches each weekend. One Canadian representative is Dis Merci from Montreal's Joe Jack and John, a dark comedy about refugees and the Canadian identity. Ligia Lewis' dance piece minor matter from the Dominican Republic tackles the black experience through spectacle. Anandam Dancetheatre mixes the Mahabharata, martial arts, b-boy culture, myth and grief into three productions Gahdhari and Becoming + MWON'D (uma) under the umbrella title Contemporaneity 2.0. During the first two weeks, Selina Thompson presents her installation, interactive durational art piece Race Cards.

All of the productions are curated and presented by local arts companies and institutions who are respected and/or notorious for their own body of work. MDLSX is curated and presented by Progress' home base, The Theatre Centre, and they have whetted the appetite for the international performances and ideas to come. 

The Progess: International Festival of Performance and Ideas continues until Sun, Feb 18 at The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen St W. progressfestival.org

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