Still from Wives’ Seam Foam Blue 2.
Poetry, puppetry, dance, theatre and cabaret come together at the annual Phenomena festival, which offers a week’s worth of bizarre and compelling interdisciplinary performances steeped in Dada and surrealism, and well-timed to get you in the mood for Halloween.
The festival kicks off with interactive and immersive projections of Sea Foam Blue 2 and the Montreal-made surrealist live-action film Smile Stealers. The audience will be given kits to participate, plus there’s live music from Syngja and Sinuous Wig (la Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent, Oct. 18, 8 p.m., $10/$12).
Local experimental and interdisciplinary stage group les Filles électriques revive the Victorian tableaux vivants format, retelling stories from Greek mythology in static compositions of living performers (Bain St-Michel, 5300 St-Dominique, Oct. 18–20, 7 p.m., $10/$12).
Several shows bring the cutting edge of contemporary puppetry to Montreal’s stages. La Chambre des Lutteurs pits sound-frequency-powered puppets against each other, with live music and shadow play (Bain St-Michel, Oct. 18–20, showtimes vary, free), while speech- and text-free company les Sages Fous present Le Cirque Orphelin, a tribute to the power of the imagination, featuring a circus of misfits and castaways (la Sala Rossa, Oct. 19–20, 7 and 9 p.m., $10/$12). French marionettists Compagnie Dominique-Houdart-Jeanne Heuclin bring their legion of giants, les Padox, for two free outdoor roving performances along Parc (Oct 19–20, 2–5 p.m.). On Monday, Oct. 21, catch two very different puppet shows, with The More of Everything Revival Hour variety show, followed by sci-fi shadow theatre All Inclusive on the Red Planet (la Sala Rossa, 8 p.m., $10/$12). Finally, don’t miss the chance to see award-winning puppet choreography by Julie Desrosiers, who retells fairy tales (in French) in Les bois dormants (Bain St-Michel, Oct. 25, 7 p.m., $10/$12).
In dance, Irvin Chow and Léa Tremblay Fong explore weight and counterbalance in Alchimie (Bibliothèque du Mile End, 5434 Parc, Oct. 19, 2–5 p.m., free), while Fantasmagories 1 brings 10 artists with diverse approaches to the same stage (Bain St-Michel, Oct. 23, 8 p.m., $10/$12). Wants & Needs Dance bring their Short & Sweet series of 25 choreographers performing pieces under three minutes to la Sala Rossa for a themed edition inspired by turn-of-the-century illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès (Oct. 24, 8 p.m., $10/$12).
Throughout the week, keep your eyes peeled for installations and interventions being staged around Mile End, including work by set and lighting designer Lucie Bazzo, knit-bombing sessions by les Ville-Laines and interactive performances by stuffed-animal-suited Coral Short. Phenomena has also programmed a series of nightly concerts at Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent), including Magie and les Momies de Palerme’s Marie Davidson Oct. 19, Jacob Wren and Mehdi Hamdad with Jean-François Nault Oct. 20 and Elizabeth Anka Vajagic and Jonathan Parant on Oct. 23 (all shows at 10 p.m., $6/$8).
Cabaret provocateurs 2boys.tv will present new material in ((Tesseract)) (Bain St-Michel, Oct. 22, 9 p.m., $10/$12), while the festival wraps up with Cabaret Dada, hosted by Alexis O’Hara alter-ego Guizo LaNuit and featuring performances and guests from the festival’s line-up (la Sala Rossa, Oct. 25, 9 p.m., $10/$12). ■
Phenomena Festival runs Oct. 18–25, various venues.