XXXX Topography, pronounced “sexy, sexy, sexy, sexy topography,” is a new work by The Party — creators of imaginary theatre — that transforms a familiar space into a bizarre and immersive environment. Where a bar is readily at hand, and the exploration of the “perceptions and sensations of objects” is encouraged and, unavoidable.
Kyla Gardiner and Layla Marcelle Mrozowski, co-creators of The Party, are both current Master of Fine Arts students at SFU. They build all their work collaboratively — the entire creation process from beginning to end, the writing, directing, design elements, and choreography. Together they have created a strange world of objects, exploring the idea of assemblage and the subjectivity of objects and gender, using elements from within the realm of science fiction.
Divided into two portions, XXXX Topography will begin with a fixed length improvisation by the performers — Andrea Cownden, Emmalena Fredriksson, Deanna Peters, Rianne Svelnis, and Lexi Vajda.
Through this bizarre and improvised beginning, a special space bar owned by Beta Pink (a.k.a. Andrea Crowden) is convinced to pop into existence for two days.
Objects that were not there before, along with several high-top tables, materialise to fill the space. It would not be surprising to find objects that can move, or have a voice, a sound, or a narrative attached to them. Imagine “a pillow telling bedtime stories, or a sarcastic couch misunderstanding the talking cure, or love letters that go missing.”
In this second portion, the audience is invited to take part in this world for a while. They are free come and go, to mingle and interact, and to discuss the ideas, the same way you would if you were going to a bar.
Enriching the same space is Paul Paroczai, a fellow MFA student and sound creator, who will be improvising a soundscape throughout the evening to suit the shifting atmosphere of this eccentric bar.
“We’re working really hard to do something kind of impossible,” said Gardiner, “which is to get inside of object, inside the agency and the subjectivity of objects [and] we’re doing that through the approach of assemblage.”
Assemblage, which can include human subjects as well, describes objects in relation to each other that have a certain kind of agency that an individual object does not.
From the ideas of assemblage in Jane Bennett’s book, Vibrant Matter, Gardiner brings up the author’s use of an electrical blackout and all the different elements that have to be in play, or rather required to “go wrong,” before a blackout could actually happen.
“The performance [of XXXX Topography] stages this kind of world-building that our performers do, through a language of improvisation,” Gardiner explained.
The Party was created by Gardiner and Mrozowski back in 2014. They have since then created several works together, including “How I learned to stop verb-ing and blank the object,” in which they explore a world where gender is entirely absent; “Fake Gems,” presented at the Interurban Gallery in August 2015; and most recently, a published ‘performative theoretical text’ called The Party Manual.
After two years in the creation process, XXXX Topography continues its exploration over the course of two days.