Both of us found the surtitles a huge help! They made the humour so much more accessible. You yourself were hiliarious!!! The guests from New York were outstanding, too. Again, many thinks for putting together yet another wonderful evening.
-- audience member who attended our Femme Fatale show in February 2004
Yesterday, I had a lovely walk over to Todmorden Mills to see the exhibition. I was the last to leave the room at 4.... What a fine collection of photos and costumes!
-- audience member who attended our Autumn Melodies photo and costumes exhibition at the City of Toronto's Todmorden Mills Heritage Museum in October 2004.
Personally, working with the Little Pear Garden Collective has been an outstanding experience. They're innovative. They're fun to work with. They're incredibly talented. And they have an insight into a culture and a world that is extremely rare in Canada. To find a group of people who have been able to take their traditional theatre practice and excel in it and also be able to translate it, in the looser sense of the word, to people in the west. To be able to make it acceptable to people in the west. And that's why I think they're an incredibly important organization.
Click to listen to Philippa, movement teacher, actor, and choreographer based in Toronto, talk about why she thinks promoting Peking opera in Canada is important. She says:
I believe that it's not just important but VITAL to have many opportunities to bring practitioners, experienced, knowledgeable practitioners of original forms like Peking opera to Canada to work with contemporary artists or artists working in other forms and actually have hands-on workshops. And I believe it's vital for several reasons:
The first scenario is to just bring Chinese opera over so that Chinese-Canadians can actually be exposed and re-learn or have renewed appreciation for a form that belongs to their own culture. And see it here, done to its fullest. With a high degree of excellence. And to see it live would be again to have a sense of -- I think beyond pride of one's own culture. And to connect again to the physical tradition, the artistic tradition, which one comes from. That's just so important.
The second reason is [that] to be able to have workshops involving Canadians (whether Chinese-Canadians or from any other culture) to have workshops when you're working from different genres... to introduce them to original forms like Peking opera, can influence contemporary work in very profound ways.
I think it roots contemporary work. I think it opens up imaginative possiblities. It opens up possiblities aesthetically. And it refreshes the artist. Furthermore, it allows the contemporary artist to watch the detail and rigour of a classic form. And to be inspired by that.
The third reason that I think it's vital is that I get concerned that classic forms, movement forms, theatre forms can be easily lost. They're crafts that were learned from such a small age. Children trying to learn to tumble. The level of dexterity and skill required in so much of Peking opera clearly is something that cannot be learned instantaneously. It's like the Slow Food movement, it requires time and research and a culture that stays in one place.
One gets concerned that these forms will get lost. The more that they can be desseminated either through workshops or through a performance, the more we can inspire another generation to perhaps go back to China and learn it. Or perhaps to start a school here. Because movement forms can recorded on video. But to actually continue the form over time, it takes master teaching. And it takes time and practice. Otherwise movement forms die. Because the subtlety or the internal dynamic of a movement has to be passed from teacher to student in a physical way. I don't think it can happen over technology.