James Ryan Gobuty
What happens when a major theatre production company decides to throw a bash? The answer is Intermission, Canadian Stage’s summer concert/party series. Occurring once a month from May through July, Intermission sought to do something different with a theatrical space during the theatre’s off period that would provide a treat for the attendee’s ears, eyes, and mouth. Since I had the opportunity to go to the first and last iteration of this little experiment in merriment, I thought I’d plot out the evolution of the series and some of its successes and pitfalls.
The third installment of the series, Intermission Vol. III, had an impressive array of music for the audience’s ears from The Double Cuts, The Great Grantsby, and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene. Whereas the first Intermission had a distinctly jazzy sound to it, Intermission Vol. III doubled down on swing, with Mr. Canning balancing everything out. The eyes portion of the array was provided by the Arts Market, which opened up in the lobby of the Berkeley Street Theatre, selling everything from t-shirts, to refurbished antiques, to paintings being made as the night went on. As for the mouth, Easy Boy Sandwich Co. was dollying out delicious southern po’ boy sandwiches for the feasting pleasure of the audience.
Despite the lovely array of artistic pleasures that adorned this iteration of Intermission, I felt that it gave up a lot of what made the first Intermission great. For instance, this time around, the bands were playing in the rehearsal space adjacent to the court yard (except for the DJ), whereas the first time they were playing in the lobby. Though you could still hear the music fairly well throughout the entire space, it seemed a strange decision to me to move the performers off to the side rather than to have them front and center. Furthermore, my favourite part of the first Intermission was how they opened up the stage space as a dance floor, really showing a desire to play with the different possibilities of the space, a feature that was completely absent from the last installment.
Despite being a big fan of this idea, I found Intermission Vol. III to be lacklustre, and I can only say that because I had the pleasure of attending the first one. Nevertheless, I think this is a great summer experiment that they should continue to flesh out in the future.
Intermission Vol. III was presented by Canadian Stage on July 31 at the Berkeley Street Theatre. This was the last installment of the series currently planned.