The pandemic has awakened an urgent need for creativity among many artists

(Montreal) For many artists, the post-pandemic period instills a sense of urgency, a need to create without waiting for deadlines, and a greater social conscience. Crowds of festivals and venues across Quebec resumed with a bit of a frenzy this summer, but the pandemic has made it possible to learn the hard way that nothing should be taken for granted, especially for theater arts.

Posted at 10:53 AM

Jean-Philippe Ingres
Canadian Press

While it is difficult to say what effects the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the art field, certain lines appear to be being drawn.

All the artists isolated at home, like other citizens, had their eyes fixed on the same issues.

The paradox has been an increase in social awareness, even though people are becoming more physically isolated than ever before. Because the pandemic stopped everything, we were all watching the same news. Everyone was connected at the same time. Comedian, author and director Matthew Quesnel says this has put the ‘focus’ back on many issues,” referring in particular to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement with the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the pursuit of #metoo.

Comedian Amna Ashour, at the heart of Les Allumettières, says she practically sees the “point of no return” with everything that happened during these two years of the pandemic.

She said recently in an interview when he presented the group show “Quebecoises” at Zoofest, the audience’s favorite at the 2022 edition.

“I was already a bit committed, and politicized before the pandemic, but allowed myself to really silly comedy numbers and not committed stuff at all. But here I seem to be unable to get up on stage and do a ‘non-committal’ number. In my head, there’s a lot of Topics to be discussed, things to denounce and grievances to be highlighted.

Alana Lindgren, Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Victoria University, goes so far as to say of The Next Generation that “the percentage of students who are highly motivated by questions of identity, the climate change crisis, politically engaged, and socially conscious is almost 100%.

“From a content perspective,[students]are trying to figure out who they are, what is important to them, and where they want to go, and even before the pandemic it wasn’t always cheerful, young people can also be very bleak. And that darkness has found a nest through kinds of Different from the work. So what does solitude mean? It is about exploring themes of alienation and solitude with some pessimism about the future. But in my view, the very act of creation is an act of hope.”I Lindgren.

“In emerging from the pandemic, the artists will be, as they have always been, the ones who help us begin to understand ‘what it was like, what we just went through, and what this means for us individually and collectively,'” says Professor.

Last May, Matthew Quesnel launched a call for a kind of “Burdle” in the theatrical world—referring to the pub on Montreal’s Ontario Street with its evenings where the next generation and most famous comedians come together. On social networks, he talked about a theater venue on a communal property “where it will never be booked more than a month ago”, with “new performances outside the furnace”.

“With the pandemic, I’ve realized more than I’m doing theater to work as a team and to see people,” said the actor and author who started the project, which is tentatively called The Pirate or the Pirate Theater.

In an interview, he described this feeling of urgency in creating in a period when news gives little comfort.

“Hey, maybe there will be another pandemic, maybe everything will stop, maybe there will be a world war, maybe global warming will inundate every city, there will be no more theater, so we have to set up ASAP. Because at some point, maybe not It doesn’t exist anymore. I’m a little delirious, but there’s still such a thing,” he confirms.

Practice your art during a pandemic

With frequent confinement, the performers had no choice but to turn to social networks. It was already a business card in use by many before the pandemic, and it has proven almost essential during the pandemic.

“I told myself I shouldn’t lose sight of the small gains I made in humor in the six months before the pandemic,” said Amna Ashour, who in 2019 swapped out her notebook and microphone as a sports journalist to embark on a humour.

“So I started writing the video capsules, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to put it on YouTube. There will probably be three people who will see them, but that means if one day someone wants to know more about me, my name on Google, there will at least be something there'” . This is how I asserted myself a certain existence, which I am convinced allowed me to get contracts, or else who would have come home to pick me up in my pajamas in an I-don’t-know-how-th wave. , she added.

She had time to “write three books” at the start of the pandemic, but the mindset is no longer there to write jokes. Especially in a context where she fears not having the money to pay her rent.

Then the tension decreased. Except for writing when you don’t have a view (in sight), I’m unable. She emphasized that it might be my background as a journalist that scared me of the white pages, but that I needed a specific mandate “with a deadline”.

Online shows have started on Zoom. “I was fortunate to have friends who had the energy to put it down, make money, and partners. I organized just one, with GoFundMe. We were trying things out,” she says, also referring to these Facebook invitations to performances in parks with several comedians.

Young comedian Lucas Boucher, co-founder and host of the first Comedy Night in the Garden in the summer of 2020, who eventually founded the Picnic and Humor group, believes there is a future for the initiative founded in the event of a pandemic emergency.

“Even though the epidemic is almost over, there are still people coming, 100 or 150 people every week. We are really happy because it is so popular. It would be stupid to miss it. I hope it continues (next summer). Anyway, I will press from for its continuation.

For his part, Mathieu Quesnel said he had recently felt a “renewed happiness to meet people and spectators”.

“I try to work on the things that speak to me the most, that are most important to me. It goes somewhat in line with my idea of ​​creating a piracy theater, making a theater that allows that kind of expression to exist quickly. Because anyway, I feel the need to create and not always Waiting for deadlines, not waiting two or three years before creating a show,” he explained.

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