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Emergency #6 featuring Swallowed by Kate Story

See the printed matter: Show poster / Show program

Emergency #6 is our choice for fave event of 1998, notable as the first appearance in the Emergency festival – indeed the first appearance in a Peterborough New Dance / Public Energy program ever – for Kate Story, who has since set the mark as the artist with the most appearances in this annual festival of dance and performance by Peterborough area artists. Kate being Kate, for her first Emerg performance ever she asked (politely) that the usual rules for Emergency artists not apply: Swallowed was neither short (works had to be under 15 minutes) nor was it brand new, as it had already been seen in Kate’s home town, St. John’s. That was a good thing because it meant we could promote the show with timeless quotes from the local CBC reviewer who said it was likely to “generate some interesting chatter at the bar afterwards”, and “leave you wanting more.” More what…drink?

Emergency # 6 featured a few other Emerg firsts: the first appearance by a South Asian dancer, Ramya Rajagopolan; the first appearance from a martial arts performer, Greg Magwood, who performed four short forms placed between other works on the program; and the first time Emergency would not be held at the Market Hall, which was closed down at the time during a notorious attempt, by the real estate development company that owned it, to convert it into a bingo hall. (The attempt was not a success, Emergency was back in the Hall in 1999, and shortly thereafter the City acquired it (well the second floor anyway), putting the Market Hall back in public hands).

In addition to Kate, Ramya and Greg, Emergency #6 saw works by Penelope Thomas, Caron Garside and the team of Ian Osborn (soundscape), Cathy Petch (text and lighting) and Kristina Kyle (performer). Thomas’s solo Intersices was the first in what would become a series of impressive solo and group works she created during her tenure in Peterborough. Garside was the director of To Have and Have Not, a work about the social welfare system created collectively by children and adults. (This was not the first Emergency work created by and with kids – that distinction goes to Stephen Elliot’s Home/Work in Emerg #3). The Osborn/Petch/Kyle team described their work, Harvey Wallbanger, as “the collective conniption fit of three confused collaborators”. Short excerpts of all seven works are here.

But it was the full-length work Swallowed, written and performed by Kate Story, that stole the show. It helped that she recruited some really good collaborators: choreography by Dy Gallagher and music/sound effects by Patrick Walsh. The collaboration with Walsh was especially impressive – his varied guitar work created different moods, propelling it along with an eerie, recurring morse code motif suited to a work about the wreck of the Titanic. Watch excerpts here. Here’s a full description from the press release:

Swallowed is the story of two characters, both stuck on the ocean floor amid the wreck of the Titanic. One is a woman who went down with the ship, hoards relics from it, and lusts to be left alone, resentful of the recent rash of public attention directed at the wreck. The other is a baby, also stuck in the depths but yearning to leave and pick up life as it should have been had the disaster not occurred, yearning to dry out, get drunk and die a natural death. Swallowed is in part a dance-theatre metaphor for the experience of being a Newfoundlander, as Kate herself is a St. John’s native who moved to Peterborough to attend Trent University and is now based in Toronto. A leading actor with Peterborough’s 4th Line Theatre almost since its inception, Kate left the company after the 1996 season in part to pursue her own singular performance work, in which she draws on her talents as a writer and actor, as well as her early training as a dancer. Previous to Swallowed, she created Throat, also a solo work, presented at the 1997 Rhubarb Festival in Toronto, one of the country’s most important festivals for new theatre.”

– Bill Kimball

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