Notice anything unusual in downtown Kelowna?
When the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan bumps into something new or innovative in the arts we just can’t wait to spread the word.
Recently oook contributor Nicole Ensing caught up with Kevin Jesuino and the independent theatre company Interventionist Laboratories on Bernard Avenue in Downtown Kelowna.
Kevin is a performance/theatre artist living in Kelowna. Originally nurtured by the thriving theatre community of Edmonton, Alberta, Kevin spent four years living in Bangkok, Thailand. While there he co-founded and produced New City Collective; an interdisciplinary performance theatre creation company. Kevin has performed in Kelowna, Edmonton, Baltimore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and this past summer he toured the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with Inner Fish Theatre Company
NE: What is the Interventionist Laboratories?
KJ: It is an independent theatre company running out of an apartment in “The Village” where a group of performance artists and enthusiasts meet to collaborate and plan theatre based on concepts of Interventionist Theatre. This is a small venture, organized by a small team that hopes to bring a quiet, and creative disruption to the streets of Kelowna. We encourage people from all walks of life to participate.
NE: What does the Interventionist Laboratories believe in?
KJ: Our Manifesto is:
- Ignite Theatre is a means of stimulating creativity and discussion about societies restraints and habits.
- Interfere It is our duty to interfere in the habits of daily society through the playful means of public theatre.
- Involve Using the audience as a performer and vice versa. The audience and performer/s are constantly watching each other. We also believe in using the collective power of collaboration. This means that we support anyone that is interested in performing, helping out or even just documenting.
NE: What do you do the first time your group meets?
KJ: The first time I hold a ‘first meeting’ I get the group to brainstorm themes, ideas, elements and images that come to mind depending on the certain topic at hand. In the case of this Intervention Laboratory experiment I asked the participants to list off habits that Kelownites have.
NE: What part of your performance is most rewarding for you?
KJ: Teamwork and inspiration. From a performers standpoint, I love when an ensemble of people can work together to create a piece from scratch and get it up on its feet. From an audience standpoint I love when people are genuinely interested in and/or inspired by the work that has been presented.
NE: Last week you were reading poetry to people in traffic, today you are dressed in a white jumpsuit…
KJ: I decided to explore an image I had revolving around this “visitor” from outer space character who comes to Kelowna in a peaceful way but whose sole mission is to conquer Kelowna.
As the performance developed I realized how “white” I was dressed. I had on a white hazmat outfit and was waving a white flag. This idea of “whiteness” developed and I began to consider the “monoculture” aspect of Kelowna. One rarely sees cultural diversity in this city.
The performance was not at all confrontational and I’d like to develop the piece in order to speak to the diversification of people living in Kelowna. I think the more cultural backgrounds we have in this city, the more diverse our way of life will be and the more we become accustomed to new ways of thinking and doing things
NE: What kind of response do you receive from the community or audience during these interventions?
KJ: Many people have no idea what Intervention Theatre is, so most people were just happy to see performance art being displayed on the street in public, and not stationed at a legal busking spot.
While reading poetry in traffic there were people who called us inappropriate names, gave us the finger, told us to “go get a job”, all of which were somewhat expected but not what we were looking for.
What struck us the most were the people that rolled down their window and listened to us. Some even forgot to accelerate when the light turned green and ended up staying for another stanza of poetry. This was the reaction that we wanted most. We wanted people to slow down, forget that they are in a hurry for a moment or two, and while they are stopped at the red light, why not listen to some soothing poetry.
NE: Who is involved in Interventionist Laboratories?
KJ: I have to give thanks to all those who helped with brainstorming and/or participated in performing. The performers were Alex Eastman, Lucas Glenn, Scott Mendonca, Kevin McCarty and myself. Those who helped with brainstorming were Mark Wells, Cameron Welch, Tiffany Fauvel, Halley O’Byrn and Catherine Spencer.
NE: When is the next performance people can keep an eye out for?
KJ: The Interventionist Laboratory Experiment occurred once a week over a span of three weeks in August 2011. Our final intervention took place Thursday August 18 in downtown Kelowna. New City Collective was also featured at the Rotary Centre for the Arts Wine and Music Festival this past May in a piece titled “Cirque de Freak”.
Next, please be on the look out for the return of New City Collective (Kelowna), a collective of local interdisciplinary artists producing theatre at different venues around Kelowna.
NE: How can others become involved?
KJ: If anyone is interested in getting involved with theatre on the streets or in a typical theatre setting, but is also interested in creating theatre with a group (as opposed to interpreting an already written script).
Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
This was merely one project I have going at the moment and I’d love to incorporate as many interested performers into work I do in the future.