Creation as an act of friction

A person with a knitted mask hold a beige dog in their arm.
Surveillée et punie © Kelly Jacob
   dsc04793 ludovic photographie
The Rise of the BlingBling - Le diptyque © Ludovic Photographie

We have so much to update you on at the National Creation Fund. This month marks two new investments and an exciting list of Fund-supported shows on tour, including an unprecedented FIVE premieres. Also, the NAC’s 2024-2025 season was just launched! It features a record-setting ten Fund-supported productions, all beacons of possibility and light. We are so proud that creation is being celebrated at the NAC. Here we go!

As all these bright new creations meet their audiences this month, I’m reflecting: How can we truly be there for each other? In creation processes, collaboration can exist somewhere between an awkward fumble to hold hands in the dark, to the sparkiest love at first sight, to complete disdain. I love it as a microcosm of how we co-create together more broadly, whether performances, communities, cultures, or worlds. It’s a choice to remain, to ask again and again: How do we do this together? The act of creating is an embrace of friction.

Friction has become a bad word. Broader consumer trends indicate that customers seek entirely frictionless experiences – and who can blame them! Life is already complicated enough without ‘pain points.’ Yet, in a recent article, artist Andy Field wrote about how moments of friction in public spaces - a sudden thunderstorm, overexcited dogs, breaking grocery bags - can create flashes of connection between strangers, the pain points of human encounter that we increasingly avoid. Here, friction interrupts pattern and allows something new to emerge. Of course, pain points in a ticket purchase process don’t allow anything new to emerge, other than perhaps a desire to do something other than go to the show. But how can performance offer a type of generative cultural friction?

I offer for consideration our two new investments: Surveillée et punie and The Rise of the BlingBling - Le diptyque.

Surveillée et punie
Théâtre Prospero

Surveillée et punie from Théâtre Prospero looks directly at the rise of hatred in our world and pursues transcendence. Singer-songwriter Safia Nolin and director Philippe Cyr take thousands of actual insults that have been directed at Safia and use them as raw material for the creation of a stunning live music performance.

Safia Nolin: “Apparently, there’s something about my story, about my life, that means I have absolutely every quality that challenges people. I represent change, difference. I think what they find most upsetting is the fact that I don’t apologize for being who I am.”

Philippe Cyr: “By having a whole chorus repeat the insults directed at Safia on social media, our intention is twofold: we want both to make the public aware of the seriousness of the situation, and to reappropriate the words in order to sublimate them. Despite the aggression expressed by these words, the choir is not just the enemy: it’s also a community that’s forming around Safia.”

The Rise of the BlingBling - Le diptyque
Empire Panique

Pursuing a different kind of transcendence is Empire Panique with their creation The Rise of the BlingBling – Le diptyque. This two-part event/performance is an uninhibited and surreal re-reading of the character of Jesus, including his moral teachings and the spectacuralization of those teachings. It’s an extravagant, transdisciplinary fresco that borrows as much from the story of Jesus as it does from pop culture, leaving room for interpretation by the mystic in each of us.
Philippe Boutin: “For too long we have accepted the rise of a culture of superficiality, spectacularization, overproduction and widespread violence that gives rise to ‘heroes’ who use force to reign over what we call justice. But who really dares to talk about love?”

Finally, we are excited to support ONISKHA's upcoming gathering, Aki / Alpa, taking place in conjunction with the premiere of Nigamon/Tunai. Offering a deeper look into the creative processes and ideas behind the show, the gathering features exchanges on Indigenous struggles and solidarity against extractivist policies and environmental devastation on the Indigenous territories of the Americas. Registration opens soon –and it's free! 
Here’s to big questions, courageous friction, and finding our own versions of transcendence. Until next month!

For a full list of upcoming shows supported by the Fund, visit our Season page.

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