May 3 marked the opening night of the 24th annual Youth Infringement Festival (YIF), presented at Arts Court Theatre. YIF is an open access performing arts festival for Ottawa youth ages 16 to 25 to develop and produce original work. Run entirely by young people throughout its history, YIF has presented over 150 new plays by writers under 25. I had the pleasure of seeing three plays on opening night: One Night Only, Snap, and Remake.
It is so fun to see three performances back-to-back (with an intermission in between each), to really immerse yourself in theatre and to be surprised by the contrasts between the plays.
One Night Only (created by Lily Chapelle and directed by Canda Habonimana) is about a lesbian couple who reluctantly opens up their home to a pair of travellers in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The hosts have forgotten what it is like to have people over and how to socialize (sound familiar?). The play is intense, yet predictable. Not quite horror, it felt like an action thriller, where you know what’s going to happen but it is still enjoyable to watch. The play is immersive, and very classic “zombie-apocalypse.” The actors did a terrific job, although I wish they would enunciate more at times. I felt like I needed subtitles and I sat right in the first row.
Run entirely by young people throughout its history, YIF has presented over 150 new plays by Ottawa youth aged 16 to 25.
Snap (by Dough Newham and Thomas Futter, directed by Meagan Le Duc) is a joyous concoction of endless wordplay, puns, and every possible trope and stereotype of the sports world. It is a masterfully done comedy that had the audience laughing and engaged the entire time. Highlights included the comedic timing, the cast lingering at the end of the scene as the lights slowly dimmed, and the delivery. The actors almost broke character because their lines were too funny. I even got to participate and pick a card, since Snap is about a card game championship. This performance was my favourite of the night. Some actors were even playing multiple characters to such perfection, I was second-guessing myself. It was so impressive and cheesy in the absolute best way.
Remake (by Julia Dan, directed by Alissa Chayer Demers) is about a washed-up film director who is—you guessed it—remaking his hit film of the 1990s in the modern times, to try and squeeze every last dollar out of his past success. The actors return to reprise their previous roles in the film, except for one, the main love interest, who has passed away in a car crash since the first film was made. He is replaced by a new actor, but his lover in the film can’t accept this. She is deeply consumed by her grief for Manny, and no one can replace him. Remaking the film brings up the memories of her lost love and the trauma. The play is horror-like, with the grieving actress thrashing around in deep sobs on the ground, with a roast pig that is actually a real human head presented on the table in her nightmares. There are re-enactments of her past memories, acted out through pantomimes by the cast, which I only understood after the play ended. A song, “He Hit Me It Felt Like a Kiss,” (originally by The Crystals) plays loudly throughout the scenes and left me wondering about a layer of potential abuse added to the grief, or another potential interpretation I don’t know about—the resurfacing pain of trauma? This is the play left most open to the audience’s interpretation and the one that was the least obvious to me.
In-person tickets for YIF 2022 are sold out, but there are lots of livestreaming tickets available. You can view One Night Only, Snap, and Remake on Thursday May 5.