On July 20, I attended a behind the scenes tour of the Ottawa 2017 signature event, La Machine, and was treated to an incredible preview of the show that will unfold next week for Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations.
Guy Laflamme, Ottawa 2017’s Executive Director and the mastermind behind Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in the nation’s capital, tells the story of how he once serendipitously missed a train connection from Nantes to Paris, and was therefore able to spend a few extra hours with the creators of La Machine. Those few hours proved to be the ones he needed to strike a deal with the French company in order to bring this fairy-tale ambulant theatrical show to North America for the very first time.
From July 27-30, Kumo, the delicate yet terrifying giant spider and Long Ma, the elegant and fearless half-horse, half-dragon, will roam the streets of Ottawa and live amongst us 24/7. Residents and visitors will have the opportunity to see this one of a kind show at no cost and live an unforgettable experience.
The creators of La Machine explained that what makes the show so special and unique is its ability to draw emotion, mesmerize the audience and rekindle the child in all of us. The creatures are meticulously designed, assembled and handled by a dedicated team of experts with an array of different backgrounds and qualifications. Kumo and Long Ma’s exterior appearance is a true work of art, but we are reminded of their formidable presence by the roars we hear and the smoke, fire and water they spew out. Although mechanical, they become life-like through motion and story telling, and their gigantic size brings us back to a place where we looked up with curiosity and wonder at the world unfolding around us.
When I saw Kumo’s handlers enter the giant spider by sliding down a climbing rope, mimicking the way spiders hang from their webs, I understood that every single detail of La Machine was carefully thought out to captivate and move us. The story, the music, the performance and of course, the creatures themselves, come together in a poetic harmony that challenges our perception of what is real and imaginary.
La Machine kicks off on Thursday July 27 at 8pm with the awakening of Kumo near the National Gallery of Canada. Long Ma will awaken on Friday July 28 at 10am at Ottawa City Hall. The creatures, accompanied by a live orchestra, will then take over the streets of our beautiful city throughout the weekend, inviting us to follow them on their journey as they search for one another and fulfill their destiny.
La Machine, an Ottawa 2017 North American first, takes place from July 27-30 in downtown Ottawa. The show is free and suitable for children and adults of all ages. The schedule is available at www.ottawa2017.ca. Traffic impacts and road closures information can be found at www.ottawa.ca/en/la-machine. For more Ottawa 2017 events and information, visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo and Flickr.