The Harbourfront Centre’s annual HATCH programme is in full swing, with Melissa D’Agostino’s new piece BroadFish hitting the stage this Saturday. “HATCH has been an enormous gift,” says D’Agostino. “It’s one of the only places where, as an artist, I can go and spend a week in a beautiful theatre with so many resources and just develop.” With this year’s HATCH programme blurring the lines between the live and the digital, D’Agostino delves deep into the merging worlds of relationships and the Internet.
So what exactly is BroadFish? D’Agostino says that her inspiration came from various sources. It started out when D’Agostino heard a story about a woman, who was buying herself birthday presents every year to place in her hope chest. “Instead of buying herself birthday gifts, like buying herself a new jacket or going out with her friends and having a night on the town, she would buy a set of pots or tablecloths for when she got married,” explains D’Agostino. But the inspiration for the pieces doesn’t stop there, as D’Agostino goes on to tell the story of a woman she found online, who had begun to plan her wedding before even finding a groom. “I became really fascinated with her and how people were really mean to her, and about her on the Internet,” she admits.
As for the name itself, BroadFish comes from combining the derogatory term “broad” with “fish”. Together, these terms accentuate the ideas of transformation and over-sexualized women, specifically with the image of mermaids in mind. D’Agostino goes on to explain that upon researching the name, she discovered that a broadfish is actually a parasite that can be consumed by certain kinds of fish. “We’re talking about consuming an idea, or buying it through an idea that could, potentially, end you,” says D’Agostino about her fascination with the discovery. “How far will we take an idea? When we ingest or take on that label, how far will we take it?”
When asked what an audience member should expect from the piece, D’Agostino replied, “expect to go on a journey with a character, down the rabbit hole of relationships and the Internet.” Using several different archetypes, such as the bride and the mystic, D’Agostino hopes to shed light on relationships, and get to the root of our role in affecting them. D’Agostino wishes for the audience to take with them “a sense of how easy it is to attack one another or judge one another, based on their own fears and insecurities, and how that can really be heightened by the Internet. Just the enmity of the Internet and how quickly we can comment on things and react to things and share them with millions of people.”
With a quite a history in performance and writing, D’Agostino goes into detail about how that history has helped her with the creation of this piece. She says that this piece “isn’t so much as a departure, as it is a deepening of the work [she’s] done in the past.” She explains, “The work used to be very much grounded in fall and clown and physical theatre… and [she’s] really taken a break from that for a year, needing to examine what [she] needed to say next, and how [she] wanted to say it.” There are still very important lessons that she has brought forth from her past work. “What that work taught me was the value of a strong point of view; the value of direct engagement with an audience, and the value of trusting an audience to go with one performer on a journey. That can feel very daunting, but I think that audiences really love to do it.”
BroadFish is on stage at the Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre on April 19th. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/theatre.cfm?id=5742&festival_id=158.
photo credit: Matt Campagna