Stephen Lawson as Gigi L’Amour in full cabaret mode
Photo by Marlène Ramírez-Cancio
Interdisciplinary artists 2boys.tv, aka Stephen Lawson and Aaron Pollard, aka Gigi L’Amour and Pipi Douleur, are stalwarts of Montreal’s vibrant cabaret scene. This Wednesday, the pair plays host to a hot mess cabaret of music, vogueing, performance art, and magic, as well as a dress-up station (!) and clearout sale of L’Amour’s extensive collection of glam wear, showgirl headdresses and other vintage pieces. Five bucks lets you peruse their wares, dress up for the party, and walk out with your spoils, and Lawson adds that “if you’re a size 9 ladies’ shoe, you’re in luck” (!!).
Hump of the Week hopes to cover some of the costs of taking 2boys.tv’s multi-media song-cycle and collaborative cabaret spectacular Tightrope on tour, to Sao Paolo and London. Reviews of past performances in Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City tend toward the hyperbolic, raving about the show’s seamless staging as a platform for extensive collaboration with local performers. Ever- charming hostess/emcee Alexis O’Hara guides audiences through this theatrical meditation on disappearance, memory and loss, staged through shadow play, video, and, of course, musical numbers, framed by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh’s live soundtrack.
The show hinges on its international connections and what collaborations with artists in other cities bring to the piece. Lawson says that the memorial tone of the work took shape by soaking up local culture while staging a performance in Mexico, “where there’s all this talk of the Disappeared. Every culture has their relationship to the Disappeared, and we realized that we also have our own relationship to the Disappeared.”
Pollard recalls reading Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano at the time, in which there’s a scene detailing a child’s very somber funeral procession, the tail end of which is a mariachi band playing, of all things, “La Cucaracha.” This tension between solemnity and joy drives Tightrope, which Lawson jokingly refers to as a “drag queen funeral memorial. It’s fantastic!”
Pollard adds that, “What came out of that is a work that really has to do with memory. It doesn’t necessarily focus on a particular political event or geopolitical action or phenomenon, but more to do with a rumination on memory and the loss of memory and recuperating memory, and on loss and the sense of grief. So that’s where the songs come in,” because nothing screams “musical number” like a funeral.
2boys.tv’s cut-and-paste aesthetic is driven by cosmopolitanism, making collaborations like their upcoming shows abroad essential to their creative process. They’re keen to bring the work back to Montreal, but want it to steep a little in the waters of Brazilian and British dance and music cultures. But of course that shit ain’t free. While Lawson and Pollard shy away from calling Hump of the Week a fundraiser, given that, y’know, there are worse-off folks out there, they loved the idea of throwing a hot mess party with raffles and treats to help cover local expenses. As Lawson puts it, “Wednesday is the hump of the week. People need something to do on a Wednesday. And it’s going to be hot next week, like totally hot. You can’t stay at home and sleep, you’ve got to go out and drink.” ■
Hump of the Week, featuring Jordan Arsenault, Alexis O’Hara, Skidmore, Zap, Kiss My Cabaret performers, and more Wednesday, July 18th @ Sala Rossa, 8 p.m., PWYC