By Lars van Tol
40 minutes | Comedy, Drama, Inter-Arts | Mature
If the attendance is any indicator, the promise of nudity can still fill seats like nothing else. Art Class was the most unique performance I witnessed at Fringe 2016, breaking the fourth wall and inviting (and tutoring) an artistic response from the audience, which is a great concept that might just fall short of its promise.
The narrative centres on “the artist”, whose idealized memories of an old model have created a fascination (if not fixation) with the process and practice of nude modelling, and his interaction with “the model” proves enlightening, and perhaps empowering. “The instructor” was as dry and condescending as my wildest dreams about art school suggested. I enjoyed the performance, and the script was punchy and interesting.
It was an interesting idea to bring the audience in and, while they function as the “art class”, teach them a little about drawing and art. However, house lighting was only turned up once for the purpose of drawing. Some of the audience seemed to share my confusion and/or reluctance about the intended purpose of the blank spaces in the program, but I heard some determined sketching. I managed to get something down in the dark and it didn’t look too unlike a human, but it seems like the audience have to take their chances between the action of the show and the dim lights. It is a quandary, because drawing is encouraged, but the performance doesn’t offer a lot of poses or cues.
That uncertainty is a pity, because the idea of the audience sketching quick portraits of the principle actors, or a few random scenes or poses that spoke to them, and sharing their work with each other afterwards, is very compelling and definitely would make for a memorable and unique show. Perhaps if there was a bit more runtime to experiment with, the demands of putting on a show and involving the audience could be accomplished more effectively.
Heed the hashtag and bring a pencil, or bring more serious art supplies if that’s your thing. If you want to really get into the perspective drawing, however, you’ll need a quick hand. #srsly
Art class in session. Nude model. Please knock. Plays June 19 (5:30 P.M), 20 (10:00 P.M), 22 (6:30 P.M), 25 (9:00 P.M), 26 (12:30 P.M) at Studio Léonard-Beaulne , 135 Seraphin-Marion.