Ms. Street and Ms. Niedoba first worked together on the staged reading of 4-10-2000 for the New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre in 2007; Ms. Street directed, Ms. Niedoba performed the role of Mei. The following year Ms. Street created her first collaborative work, Binary, with White Raven Productions. For this production Ms. Street pitched the premise of the play, and wrote an initial bare bones draft, which was then work-shopped intensively with an ensemble of seven actors. The actors were encouraged to shape their characters and define their relationships to each other through the improvisation of new scenes. The process created rich, three dimensional characters, in a well detailed and concrete world.
This experience sparked Ms. Street's interest in collaborative creation. Since then she has built on her skills by taking a number of workshops on collective and collaborative creation, as well as the use of chorus and ensemble work, with artists such as Jillian Keilley, Kim Collier, and most recently Jeremy James of Theatre du Soleil (Volcano Conservatory 2010). At this time she and Ms. Niedoba were collaborating on an expressive arts course for Sheena's Place. Ms. Street explained her desire to build on her experiences creating shows through improvisation and physical research, through the challenge of collaboratively creating a site specific piece. Ms. Niedoba expressed interest in this creation process, and offered to bring her expertise to a theatre company to work in this modality.
Since completing Ryerson University's Theatre Acting program in 2005, Ms. Niedoba has continued to study improvisation, ensemble creation and Meisner and Strasberg's method acting techniques. These modes of performance, as well as her experience with clown, neutral mask, and group collaborative physical theatre technique, have built for her a strong vocabulary and understanding with which to develop collaborative theatre pieces based on physical improvisation.
What is Site-Specific Theatre?
Site-specific theatre is a performance or artistic project which has been inspired by and created for a specific site, by drawing on all the natural features of that site be it indoors or outdoors, a park, a building or a room.
With our first project, Jungle 1, we hope to set a standard of artistic excellence which will heighten audience demand for site-specific theatre. There are currently very few site- specific theatre companies working in Toronto, and we believe it is imperative that this form of theatre, which has been successfully produced elsewhere in the country, be brought to Toronto audiences.
Our Creative Process
After visiting the site the ensemble will begin discussing themes, ideas and possibilities for the site. These discussions will provide points of departure for physical and vocal improvisations, individually and as a group. We will be looking at all forms of art - dance, music, song, dialogue, poetry, etc. The pieces will then be put together in structure, an over arching theme or story, to give the piece shape and a cohesive artistic vision. Towards the end of the creation period a script will be set, then rehearsed for clarity of story and overall visual aesthetic, culminating in a final public performance.
Director's Artistic Vision
Hundreds of years ago human beings had an intimate relationship with their environment; they were connected to it and, for the most part, at the mercy of it. They looked around them with awe, with respect, with fascination, but they looked. We don't look at our environment anymore, and we certainly don't see it, and we don't feel it; our environment no longer has a huge effect on our daily lives. If it rains we grab umbrellas, if it snows we grumble and book a trip to Florida. But how many people really feel a connection to the city, the places they see and walk everyday.?
I want to bring people's attention back to their environment by filling it with magic. Not necessarily magic in the sense of tree spirits or dragons (though I'm not ruling these out either), but life magic, the emotional connection and intellectual engagement that comes with seeing a live performance. While we invite our audiences to become enchanted, moved, frightened, or enthralled, we are also inviting them to reestablish their personal connection with the space around them, to have an emotional reaction of some kind. It is my hope that once we have opened them to this kind of connection, they will notice the lack of it in other places, and reach out themselves to fill the space with life. With magic.
I love the idea of magic, and have often thought of myself as a magician. For what is creation besides the most common, yet most important, kind of magic? In creating a piece of theatre from scratch you can see the offers made as bursts of fireworks, feel the air hum with excitement as actors make ever new and more exciting discoveries, and in the end the audience, in witnessing your magic, the ritual of your creation, truly gives the piece life. In bringing life to the piece they also bring the piece into themselves, swallowing bits of the fairy dust of illusion, and carrying it with them.
Life. Magic. Creation. It's all the same to me.
In 2008 Gillian Street created her first collaborative work, Binary, with White Raven Productions. Gillian pitched the premise of the play, and wrote an initial bare bones draft, which was then work-shopped intensively with an ensemble of seven actors. The actors were encouraged to shape their characters and define their relationships to each other through the improvisation of new scenes. Whether the scenes and monologues improvised were included in the final production or not, the process created rich, three dimensional characters, in a well detailed and concrete world.
Since this experience Gillian has taken a number of workshops on collective and collaborative creation, as well as the use of chorus and ensemble work, with artists such as Jillian Keilley, Kim Collier, and most recently Jeremy James of Theatre du Soleil (Volcano Conservatory 2010). She wishes to combine the excitement and challenges of creating site specific work, with her experiences building shows through improvisation and physical research. It is with this intention she has formed Urban Jungle Theatre, with fellow actor/improviser Emily Niedoba.
Currently a professional actress in Toronto, Emily Davison-Nieboda completed Ryerson University's Theatre Acting program in 2005 and since then has continued to study improvisation, ensemble creation and extensively meisner and Strasberg's method acting techniques. These modes of performance, as well as her experience with clown, neutral mask, and group collaborative physical theatre technique, have built for her a strong vocabulary and understanding with which to develop collaborative theatre pieces based on these styles of creation.
Emily and Gillian will start training an ensemble this winter and start creative development for their site specific piece in the Spring. As well, Emily and Gillian have been working on finding funding for a collaborative improv based project with Sheena's Place and Sistering in Toronto, and are collaborating on an installation project that they wish to submit for Nuit Blanche 2012.
Cast and Crew for Jungle 1
Geoffrey Oakham is a computer programmer and avid swing dancer. He is thrilled to be part of the project.
Victoria Feistner is a graphic designer based in Toronto. She collaborated with Gillian on her two previous Fringe Festival projects Welcome to My Death(2007) and Binary(2008), providing the print media design for both shows. She is currently creating company branding for Urban Jungle Theatre, as well as all visual publicity material for Jungle 1. Victoria is in equal parts a writer, a graphic designer, and an artisan, although some parts are more equal than others. See her works at Emporium Esoterica.
Lynda Yearwood is thrilled to be a part of this incredibly interesting, somewhat challenging, and exceptionally creative project. It might best be said that Lynda simply loves "all things theatre", as is clearly illustrated by the almost 20 productions she has worked on in the past 3 years. Lynda is a very active member of the Alumnae Theatre group, where she just finished directing Where Do You Get Off? and Stage Managing Summer's End at the New Ideas Festival - where she also taught a workshop for the Stage Managers of the festival. This is her third year Stage Managing a Fringe production - one of her favourite festivals to participate in (and she is no stranger to festivals, having worked at SummerWorks, New Ideas, Playwrights of Spring and Inspirato). Lynda would like to thank the wonderful cast and creative team in this production for their energy and creativity, and of course her family for their ongoing support of her theatrical passion.
Musical Director and percussionist Eitenne Levesque is a recent graduate of the Master's program at the Faculty of Music at U of T. Although classically trained in percussion repertoire (from marimba to timpany to triangle to tables and chairs, etc.) he loves to improvise. Improvisation for him is honesty. Honesty in music and in life. His interests in improvisation have also directed him to learn more about the theatrical arts such as the red-nose clown that he has studied with Fiona Griffith and Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey at the Volcano Theater.
Michael Atlin was born in Iowa, but spent most of his childhood in Nova Scotia and the Philippines. He was bitten by the theatre bug in Grade 9, when he performed with Neptune Theatre School's Youth Performance Company. Since then, he has appeared in a number of amateur productions in Canada and Asia, most recently with Canopy Theatre in their 2009 performance of Romeo and Juliet (Andrea Wasserman). At Humber, he played the Dauphin in an Original Shakespeare production of Henry V and was an ensemble member in Tir Na Nog (Ker Wells), Unfinished Passage (Alex Fallis, Heidi Strauss, and Fides Krucker), and The Survivalists (Karin Randoja). He's delighted to be working on a collective creation again with Urban Jungle.
Lindsay Bellaire has recently received a BFA in Acting degree from the University of Windsor, where her roles included Puck (A Midsummer Night's Dream), and Belinda Blair (Noises Off). Her first exposure to theatre was through dance, performing with various Performing Arts companies throughout the Windsor and Essex County area. She is currently training in Circus Arts at the Toronto School of Circus Arts, and is excited to be a part of the Toronto theatre community.
Sedina Fiati is a Toronto based actor, singer, dancer and creator of Trinidadian and Ghanaian descent. She holds a BFA degree in Music Theatre from the University of Windsor and is also a proud graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts. Her experience spans an eclectic cross section of projects including Shakespeare, musicals, short films and collective creation. She has appeared in the SummerWorks festival in various capacities, rock.paper.sistahz festival and the Hysteria festival to name a few. She recently created, performed and produced her own one person show about love, dance and pop music, Last Dance, which will come to a theatre near you in 2012.
Jen Hum is a Toronto based independent dance artist. Her experiences span from performing Chinese contemporary dance with Xing Dance Theatre to English Contra dance. She has danced for MAC Cosmetics, Tapestry New Opera Works and the Junction Arts Festival, to name but a few things. Such a diverse background results from her continual navigation of the complex labyrinth of the performing arts world on her quest to find her artistic voice. She is currently working with Jay9 Dance Projects on a piece to be presented August 11-14 2011 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre as part of the Dance: Made in Canada Festival.
Madeleine Jullian is an actor, dancer, and performance artist. She has performed on stage and on the street, as well as in art galleries, parks, rivers, and subway trains. Originally from Gatineau, Quebec, she moved to Toronto to study acting at the Ryerson Theatre School. She will be entering her final year at Ryerson in the fall.
Adrian Yearwood is a 22 year-old student at the University of Toronto and is delighted to be able to take part in the fantastic project that is Jungle 1. As a former gymnast and avid ultimate frisbee player (yes, it is a sport!), he is excited to add his athletic skill set to the mixture to help the show's diversity at a maximum. Many thanks to his friends and family for their love, support, time, and (perhaps most notably) their hard-earned money! Select theatre credits include Reflections (New Ideas Festival), After Magritte (Alumnae Theatre), and Assassins (UC Follies).
Sarah Oostrom has a passion for marketing and promoting Theatre and the Arts. She studied Integrated Marketing Communications at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. The vibrant culture and arts scene in Toronto soon brought her to the city where she studied Advertising at Humber College. Sarah has worked for such theatre companies as Dancap Productions at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. She is also currently working at Harbourfront Centre Theatres and the newly reopened Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Sarah is thrilled to be working with the wonderful local talent at Urban Jungle Theatre.
Erin Gerofsky is a recent graduate of York University's Theatre Production/Design program. She made her debut as a costume designer with The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, the second show in Theatre@York's 2010/2011 season. Erin is thrilled to be kick starting her career in Toronto's theatre scene with Jungle1, which is also the first location specific piece she has been a part of. Erin was born and raised in Toronto, where she has been actively involved in theatre in all its facets since the age of 7, as an outlet for her overactive imagination. Her experience as an apprentice shoe builder at Jitterbug Boy Original Footwear during the summer of 2010 further instilled her interest in shoe design and construction, which is an area of costume she looks forward to exploring in her career. She will have selected works displayed at this summer's Prague Quadrennial/Scenofest.