C/O Dayne Topkin, Unsplash
Fables For a New World asks artists to imagine what comes next
Over the last three years, COVID-19 has reshaped the world as we know it — our usual pastimes turned into DIY hobbies, outdoor days turned into lockdowns and in-person classes turned into Zoom meetings. But what comes next? What will happen in the post-pandemic world? What would be the first story to tell? Industry, a Hamilton-based theatre and media company, tells the stories about what comes next in their new project, Fables For a New World.
Co-produced by Rose Hopkins and Matthew MacFadzean, members of Industry, the project is the sequel to the Corona Diaries in which seven artists from around the globe shared how they were coping with the pandemic and changes to their arts practice. Each artist uploaded a series of video entries over the course of eight weeks. The project wrapped up with a live event in August 2020.
The artists included: Deepti Gupta (Canada), Andile Nebulane (South Africa), Tamlyn Magee (Australia), Celine Mun (South Korea), Haruna Kondo (Japan), Harry Long (England) and Michael Rubenfeld (Poland). None of them knew each other nor had interacted with each other during the Corona Diaries project until its wrap-up event.
“We uploaded separate videos to a series of questions without any communication with each other and then when we saw the collected versions, the collective response was very interesting — in how different artists in different countries had synchronicities and connections with what they were experiencing,” said Gupta, a choreographer and performer as well as the owner of Arzoo Dance Theatre and a member of Industry.
The same seven artists are now all part in the Fables For a New World.
The premise for the Fables For a New World is the world as we know it has ended and the seven artists are tasked with creating fables emerging out of a narrative for the new world. The first assignment the artists did together was looking up at the sky — the only scenery commonly available to all seven artists from seven different countries — and finding a new constellation to create their own individual fables.
Hopkins and MacFadzean then reviewed the fables and artists whose had similar themes were grouped together to continue developing those stories in a collaborative effort.
For instance, Gupta collaborated with Mun, an actress and assistant production manager in Atobiz theatre company, and Kondo, a trained actress, director and owner of AHURI Theatre.
The project was unlike what Gupta had ever done before. Not only was she new to integrating technology into her practice, Gupta found working in the digital space challenging, especially away from a live audience.
“Dance is very live and theatre is also very live. These are very live art forms — you are in with your body in a space — that’s how it works but there was nothing,” said Gupta.
However, despite the challenges, the support and bond the artists developed watching and reacting to their common thoughts, experiences and feelings shared in the Corona Diaries made it a valuable and meaningful undertaking.
“Being selected to be part of this project helped me to be connected with members of Industry and a group of artists across the globe made me feel like I’m still a part of something. Each of the people [Industry] selected are incredible talented and really experienced artists, so no matter what my own age or level of experience, it was an honour,” explained Gupta.
At the moment, Fables For a New World is still in early development. Hopkins and MacFadzean are applying for additional funding from the Canada Council for the Arts to continue the project and hopefully plan for a public presentation of the final pieces.
Both the Corona Diaries and Fables For a New World are indicative of how Industry is reimagining what the theatre space could be and of the fascinating and growing art scene in Hamilton.
“Industry is really interested in international work and bringing Hamilton into the international theatre and performance community. This has been the first project where we really started to be able to do some of that and I’m very excited about the idea, what this project could mean for future collaborations or expanding our networks of international companies,” said Hopkins.
Gupta echoed the Hopkin’s sentiments about the impact of the two projects.
“Hamilton has this buzz of technology and creating new art in new ways and I think it leads to these kinds of experiments . . . The newness of this project, how innovative it is, how it took risks and the beauty of that has emerged, I think is very magical for the pandemic where so much was lost in creation and so much was lost in artistic practice,” said Gupta.
Fables For a New World brings beauty and magic in a period of time which has otherwise felt sad and discouraging. Hopefully soon, the audience can join Industry and the artists and follow them along their tales for the new world and learn more about their gentle collaboration which has nevertheless been very inspiring for everyone involved.