Fergus Keyes is the founder of the PSC Community Theatre in Pointe Sainte Charles, Montreal. Plays are put on in this beautiful antique architectural space.
“The PSC Community Theatre is a new non-profit, volunteer project with the objective of bringing live theatre production to Point St. Charles. This effort
is in co-operation with the Point St. Charles YMCA on Ash St.”* The theatre has been operating for 11 years with 100’s of volunteers, at first accepting
donations of $6, now $9 to watch a theatre production, and it can be pay-what-you-can. There is a copyright payment to the playwright for the use of their play.
The Old Bank, where the plays are put on, is a community space rented out for private/public events, weddings, plays, meetings etc. Mr. Keyes mentioned
Joe Beef and his tradition of philanthropy and inclusiveness in Old Montreal. Joe Beef ran a tavern/restaurant in the 1860's (there is a restaurant
bearing his name on Notre Dame Ouest, opened in 2005), when people were down on their luck, even if no one could pay he opened the restaurant to everyone,
including the immigrant population and regularly fed the Community for free. The PSC Community theatre season runs from the Spring into Fall.
The next talks were from Aristofanis Soulikias (FilmMaker) – Last Dance on the Main - and Velma Candyass (Dancer/Activist) – Save the Main. The Red Light District on St. Laurent Blvd. has a corner known as the Main, a place steeped in Montreal history and historic buildings. This entire street section was declared a World Heritage Site, supposedly giving protection against developers or any major changes to the beautiful architecture. Until the city came up with plans for an office tower that would take over this area. The artists and businesses in this area banded together and protested the demolition of this historic site. Mr. Soulikias raised the question “Who owns heritage?” And presented his animated film short, depicting bull dozers and artists, with background narration in French and English, telling the story of the important history and the artists that still live and work here and their fight to save their historic home and livelihood. In the end the protestors were able to save part of the district, particularly the Café Cleopatra and a large historic shopping/office building at the other end of the street. The film depicts musicians playing on top of the building, a celebration of life and winning.
Next Velma Candyass the organizer/dancer in the burlesque show Candyass Cabaret at the Café Cleopatra gave a talk about her participation in the protest to save the theatre. “This building has always been a nightclub of some sort.” In fear that their beloved cabaret venue would be torn down she started a petition, and with the help of Donovan King they began to gather support against the developers. The businessmen raised questions “who were these no name, loser artists?” “they can go somewhere else” “and there was the question of culture and art” and Ms. Candyass says “What am I doing that is not art?”. There was a march through the streets with a mock funeral of the arts, the dancers appealed to Prince Charles, a supporter of heritage buildings, to help them save the historic buildings of the Main. While visiting Montreal, Prince Charles was accosted in public protest by the Separatists (down with the Queen) and the Dancer Protesters (save our Queen, Velma Candyass). The dancers put together a video to gather support for “Save the Main” and noted Comedian/Performance Artist Jason McLean created a comedic send-up video titled “Demolition in a Box”. Both film shorts were presented. This Writer’s note: there is not a lot of the old architecture from Old Montreal still standing, the history of Montreal is exciting, during prohibition in the United States the tourists would come in droves to Montreal to party and spend monies, there were burlesque clubs and jazz clubs, the city was alive with music and big monies. Clubs like Café Cleopatra abounded but they are not to be found today, as the music scene changed, rock and roll became suited to outdoor venues. Café Cleopatra is the last historic building venue of its kind with real burlesque theatre, it is living history.
Next Cat McCarthy, Comedienne/Burlesque Dancer from The Buffalo Infringement Festival beautiful, dressed in rainbow mermaid silk, performed a comedic talk/truth-telling about the importance of the infringement Festival. “Art can happen at anytime” “We made this place an art gallery” “Art 4 Artsake” “Art can change people’s lives” “We have culture and let it shine” “the infringement is very open to everybody”. Telling how she flowered in the infringement Festival, the beauty of an arts calling and the importance of an inclusive infringement Festival. At the end they were giving away paper plate awards with stickers. Cat McCarthy and friends danced in the infringement Festival Montreal 2016.
And so ends the 13th edition of infringement Festival Montreal 2016. This Writer would have liked to attend every show but it was such a large event with over 50 international and local acts that these Reviews offer my best. infringe, infringe, infringe . . . infringement will set you free.
“one day we will be home.”
* PSC Community Theatre. www.psccommunity.com.