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YARNS program. Photo: Curtis Perry.

undercurrents festival 2022: YARNS review and opening night reception photos

By Sonya Gankina on April 21, 2022




A big thank you to Ottawa Fringe for inviting Apt613 out to the very first play at undercurrents, YARNS, and for hosting us at the opening night reception at Arts Court. What a beautiful Wednesday night spent surrounded by art and creative people.

YARNS is a Cart Before the Horse Theatre production and a collaboration between Francophone Belgian musician Martin Dawagne and Anglophone Canadian actor Magan Carty. Martin performs his original music in the play, while Magan is the voice, both telling a story. (Martin’s moniker is Yarns, so that’s where the play gets its title.)

YARNS poster (provided).

Described as “a hybrid between a rock concert and contemporary theatre play; a one-man symphony of multi-layered live looping and distortion, interspersed with original spoken prose,” I really was not sure what to expect, except maybe words and music? Words and music I received, but in what a spectacular way… The entire experience is 100 per cent auditory. You can just close your eyes and listen. It also makes the play more accessible to wider audiences. How often can you “see” a play without actually seeing it? The MC also opened the play by describing what he was wearing and what a safety contact person was wearing as well, which was a neat first for me.

An award-winning composer and sound designer, Martin masterfully creates looping melodies live on stage. The songs weave in piano and strings, sometimes exploding into a heavy EDM drop, other times building an almost overwhelming, all-encompassing rock song. It’s a symphony at times. Organized chaos.

Following the map of the program, I heard a story of suffering, loneliness, and grief. Transformation, hope, and optimism. Self-reflection and self-expression. Every time Magan would speak, they would turn on the lamps on each side of the projector and light up the screen so we could see the speaker’s shadow. They would speak strongly and clearly, adding to the story. When they finished, they would turn off the lights. It felt ritualistic.

I didn’t want this performance to end. I felt every vibration in my body, especially when I closed my eyes and went inside, truly feeling every beat and frequency. All the songs are available on Spotify, so that’s where I will be. If you have a chance to see this play, I highly recommend it for a truly avant-garde theatre experience.

Undercurrents theatre festival is on until April 30. Explore the schedule and other dates for YARNS here. Tickets are available on a by-donation basis. Vaccination passports and masks are requested of all attendees.