York influence dominates Poetic License at Theatre Passe Muraille

York Theatre Professor Erika Batdorf (right), is performing her new solo performance work, Poetic License, until May 29 in the Toronto-based Theatre Passe Muraille’s intimate Backspace.

Combining voice, movement and audience interaction, Poetic License tells the story of a disgruntled creative writing professor who almost suffers a breakdown during one of her lectures. Struggling to balance the demands of her professional and personal life, she begins to question her world and is tempted to walk away from it all.

Poetic License includes poetry by Yeats, Kerouac, Blake, Tahirh (an Iranian poet killed in the 1940s), Oliver, Ginsberg, Wilde and Artaud.

NOW magazine’s theatre critic Kate Pedersen describes Poetic License as “hilarious and thoughtful”. She goes on to say, “Erika Batdorf’s show is emotionally compelling . . . the very best thing about Poetic License is Batdorf’s humour . . . watching Batdorf was the highlight of my week, possibly my month.”

Batdorf has been creating, performing, directing and choreographing original movement theatre for more than two decades. Her solo works have been seen in such venues as the Smithsonian Institute, the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, Landegg Academy for International Development in Switzerland, New York City’s International Fringe Festival and Harvard University. Alongside her touring shows, she has created a number of site-specific performances, including one in southern France and a piece for the Nine Dragon Heads International Art Symposium in Korea.

Poetic License is directed by theatre alumnus Todd Hammond (BFA ’90) and designed by York theatre professors Teresa Przybylski (sets, costumes) and Elizabeth Asselstine (lighting). The stage manager is York student Emma Laird, who is graduating with her BFA in theatre in June.

Asselstine has worked as a lighting designer for the past 20 years, 12 of those as resident designer at the Canadian Opera Company. Przybylski is a five-time Dora Mavor Moore Award-winner with extensive design credits in theatre, opera, dance and film, including costume design for the Shaw Festival’s current production of the Brecht/Weill musical Happy End.

One of Toronto’s smallest theatre spaces, Passe Muraille’s Backspace enjoys a reputation for edgy alternative shows, and some of Canada’s greatest theatre artists have passed through its doors. Poetic License runs to Saturday at 8pm with a Sunday matinee at 2:30pm.

Tickets are available through the Theatre Passe Muraille box office at 416-504-7529. The Saturday shows are pay-what-you can. The theatre is located at 16 Ryerson Ave. (near Bathurst and Queen Streets in Toronto).

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist in the Faculty of Fine Arts.