When Jason McLean of the Montreal Infringement Festival Montreal asked me if I’d like to organize an Infringement Brooklyn I jumped on the opportunity. I was up in Montreal with my band Orange Monsoon doing an Infringement Social fundraiser when the offer came. My reasons for starting an Infringement Brooklyn were clear. All one has to do is read the first paragraph and the Infringement mandate to understand why someone like myself would want to be involved.
“The infringement Festival is an interdisciplinary festival open to all critical artists. Celebrating freedom of expression and designed as a real arts democracy, this festival is a critical response to the oppressive neoliberal worldview and all its billboard trucks, televisions, flyers, advertisements, jingles, made-for-TV Wars; and the depoliticisation of people through this diversionary Spectacle.”
These are words of wisdom and I knew that the artists of Brooklyn could get behind this. We decided to start off small this year. The core artists participating in the festival were musicians from the labels Wake UP records and Anvil Entertainment. We are a tight group of non-commercial Brooklyn Musicians. We got the crowd dancing and everyone was having a great time at both venues, Don Pedro and the Jungle.
I plan on the festival growing next year. I’d love to branch out and include some acting and dance companies in it.
I’d like to educate the audience more on what the Infringement Festival really stands for. I think the best way to let people know what Infringement is all about is to spread the mandate. I hope to post it far and wide throughout Brooklyn this year. Also having literature available at shows and talks would real nice. It’s going to be a fun year and I hope to get many more people and groups and venues involved.
Groups interested in participating next year should please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last night at Don Pedro’s on Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn, New York the 2009 infringement Festival circuit kicked off with an evening of music. New York-based artists like The Open End, Red Clay, Wesley Jeremiah and Annie Palmer from Michigan played along with Orange Monsoon, a band with Steve Ferrara who brought the infringement to Brooklyn.
Orange Monsoon plays again tonight with Shugamilk, Have Blue at The Jungle and Anal Pudding will be making the trip down the I-90 from Buffalo along with Peanut Brittle Sattelite to play at The Electric Supply Co. (292 Flushing Ave). This band features the Buffalo infringement’s music coordinator Curt Rotterdam. This show will also be underground shows and the one at The Jungle will end with a jam.
This type of show and the infringement have a history. In 2006, a good half of the theatre and music shows at the Ottawa infringement were basement shows and in Montreal last year, all of the fundraisers and even some events during the fest, namely visual arts and spoken-word were done this way. There’s something about the free-flowing, jamming and no-need-for-a-“proper”-space nature of these events that just screams infringement.
This year’s Brooklyn infringement is a two-day affair. Weekend infringements have happened before, most notably in Toronto 2004 and can be a real fun way to experience the infringement for the first time. Also, this can whet the appetite for more infringing and lay the groundwork for future infringement festivals to take place in the same community.
An infringement in April (the first time this has happened) is also a great early way to kick off a circuit that will roll into Montreal in June and run at least into August when Buffalo wraps up and may even go longer and feature more communities rising up and infringing artistically.
To attend tonight’s show in Brooklyn, you need to RSVP to email@example.com and to keep up to date on the 2009 circuit, keep checking this page.
PHOTO: Orange Monsoon on stage last night at Don Pedro (by Gwen Sanchirico)
Six years after a group of artists and activists in Montreal, fed up with the over commercialized art-business-as-usual festival model, created their own event, the infringement movement is alive and well. The roots already planted are blooming and new seeds planted this year are starting to grow.
The 2009 International infringement circuit is gearing up. Two festivals are planning, hosting fundraisers and accepting artist submissions while a third runs next weekend. Plus, there is always room for more communities to join the movement this summer. Here’s how things are looking…
Brooklyn, NY (April 17 and 18): The infringement is coming to Brooklyn next weekend for the first time. Yes, there has already been a festival in New York City (Manhattan 2005) but this one is a different event entirely.
Brooklyn is home to a vibrant community of artist and activists who are used to speaking out and performing their work in both conventional and unconventional settings and the infringement promises to continue this tradition.
Founded by Steve Ferrara after his band The Neverbeens played the Montreal event last year, iF Brooklyn is turning into a very musical infringement. It’s a two-day affair and organizers hope it will lay the groundwork for future years.
The full schedule is online at infringementfestival.com/brooklyn
Montreal, QC (June 18-28): The festival is alive and kicking in its birthplace. The sixth annual Montreal event runs this June and planning is already well underway, but there is always room for more volunteer organizers and artists.
Theatre groups, musicians, visual artists, film and video makers, culture-jammers, street performers and anyone who wants to artistically infringe on the monoculture are welcome to join in the fun. The deadline to be included in the festival program is May 22nd and the deadline to be included in the festival itself and have a spot on the website is as long as space is available (unless you’re bringing your own space).
Saturday, May 2nd will be our first infringement Social of the season. It will happen at The Pound and feature live musical performances, theatrics, maybe some films and a BBQ fundraiser. This will be a BYOB event and the lineup will be posted once it is known.
To get involved with the festival as an artist or volunteer organizer or for more info on the fest or the infringement Social, please log onto infringementfestival.com/montreal
Buffalo, NY (July 23-August 2): The largest festival in the circuit continues to grow. They are going into their fifth year and are accepting proposals for theatre, dance, music, visual arts and film and video. The deadline has been extended to May 15th and judging from recent years, this event fills up pretty quickly.
They have also done four fundraisers already, the most recent yesterday night and more are sure to come. To get involved or find out more information, please log onto infringebuffalo.org
Start your own: Does your community need an infringement Festival? Probably so. Whether it’s a weekend party, or a month-long adventure, whether it’s the first of many annual events or something that will happen once, all types of infringements are welcome.
If you want to start a festival or are thinking about it and would like more information, you can read our helpguide here.
December 21, 2008 8:00 am
snow sculpture from last year's event
For Edward Yersh, reclaiming public space is a good way to strengthen a community by providing an opportunity for the collaborative creation of art.
“I want to help people experience what a joy it is for us to create culture for each other rather than consuming it from the standard corporate sources,” Yersh says of the annual NDG Winter Solstice Celebration, “I want to give the community a chance to reflect itself back to itself.”
Yersh started this celebration last year and it brought out “a good 2 dozen revelers” who created a spontaneous lantern-led parade around the park which eventually culminated in people lighting candles one by one and placing them in niches on a snow sculpture while casting “their hopes for themselves, their community and the world into the stream of time.”
For this year’s event, happening today in Girouard Park, Yersh plans to have nicer lanterns and provide participants with tools to build the snow sculptures during the day and incorporate light into the sculptures at night.
“I’m being more deliberate about inviting musicians,” he added, “so the lighting up of the sculpture ceremony should have some fine entertainment associated with it.”
While Yersh has nothing but praise for his community, he is less impressed with the municipal bureaucracy he dealt with leading up to this event. The borough claims he needs a permit for an event like this, while other uses of the park like pick-up hockey games and pic-nics don’t. Yersh does not see any difference and will proceed as planned while making an effort to respect the “zillions of statutes and by-laws” that regulate the various activities involved.
“Apparently the only form of fire that is permissible are matches and lighters for smoking,” Yersh comments, “they even want you to apply for a permit to light candles.” Despite this, his attitude remains: “It’s our park. We pay you to manage it for us.”
Yersh sees this event as a five-year ritual that will culminate in 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar.
“The ultimate goal is to provide a thread of hope and constancy for the community as we move through the Great Shift that reaches a culmination on December 21st, 2012,” Yersh states, adding that on a community level, this project has a goal of giving people “a sense of their own magic. How entertaining we can be to each other.”
NDG Winter Solstice Celebration takes place Sunday, December 21st in Parc Girouard, noon-5pm and 7-9pm
December 18, 2008 8:00 am
Friday night, over 15 artists will play for free to collect toys for underprivileged children and at the same time show that the concept of Le Maître Chanteur is still alive even though the place itself has closed its doors.
Marie-Suzanne Brossoit, Louis-André Bourque, Jean-Marie Pelletier and others will participate in Sourire d’enfant, an event founded over 10 years ago by singer-songwriter Landriault, who will be on hand to perform in a duo with Monique Paquin. The two of them will also co-host with Michel Parent of QuébecPop.
Cover is a new toy and the toys collected will be given to the non-profit organization les enfants de Béthanie. The event will take place at L’escalier. It is being organized by the team that put together the series at the now closed cultural bistro Le Maître Chanteur in Montreal.
Since November 2006, Landriault and his team produced over 500 shows featuring over 175 singer-songwriters and musicians as well as visual art exhibitions, book and record launches on the Maître Chanteur stage. They also participated in the infringement Festival in 2006 and 2007, offering a new show every night of the events.
In early December Le Maître Chanteur closed its doors, but the team is currently determining the best way to ensure the continuation of the project. Maybe it will be new investors, maybe it will be a grant, or maybe even a new gathering location.
We don’t know just what form the future of Le Maître Chanteur will take but we can be certain that the spirit of original art and giving to the less fortunate is alive and well in the artists that will play at Sourire d’enfant.
Sourire d’enfant, Friday, December 19th, 8:30pm, L’escalier, 522 St Catherine East, metro Berri-UQAM, cover charge: new toy (unpackaged)
December 11, 2008 10:01 am
Manny Fried at the opening of the space that bears his name.
by Jason C. McLean
Manny Fried was once called the worst subversive in Buffalo. Now this actor, playwright, union organizer and all-around artistic activist has a theatre named after him thanks, appropriately, to Buffalo’s Subversive Theatre Collective.
“We hope to represent the connection between theatre and community activism,” says Kurt Schneiderman, Subversive’s artistic director and the co-founder and ‘overall scheduling dude’ of Buffalo’s infringement festival, “Fried is the embodiment of that connection.”
Fried began his career as an actor in New York City in the 30s and 40s and moonlighted as a factory worker. He felt an ethical obligation to join a union and eventually rose to a leadership role. After red-baiting and government crackdowns, he was forced out in 1956 and blacklisted for 16 years.
During his exile, Fried turned once again to theatre, writing dozens of plays theatrically documenting what had happened to him and others in the union movement. In 1970’s Drop Hammer, Fried tackles the bitter differences that ripped apart one of Buffalo’s industrial unions in the 50s. Subversive is currently presenting this work at the Manny Fried Playhose.
After Saturday’s performance, Fried will speak. Not only will he be taking the stage in a venue named for him, but in a building where auto workers once built cars for the Pierce Arrow corporation.
Buffalo is filled with abandoned buildings and low real-estate prices. According to Schneiderman, the collision of the two factors helped to make it possible for an activist collective like Subversive to get its own space, something that is a bit of a rarity in other communities.
“Buffalo also has the most theatres per capita,” Schneiderman adds, “it also has many themed theatres. There’s an Irish Classical theatre, a theatre for the Gay community, a Jewish Repertory theatre. They speak very explicitly to a specific niche.”
There wasn’t a theatre in Buffalo specifically dedicated to work trying to bring about social change and now thanks to the Manny Fried, that void has been filled. This is a good fit because, according to Schneiderman, Buffalo has a long history of activism. In fact, the University of Buffalo was even considered the Berkley of the north by many back in the 60s.
construction of the Manny Fried Playhouse
The Manny Fried Playhose will house Subversive productions and also be a venue in this summer’s Buffalo infringement festival. It is through this event that Schneiderman met a dance troupe that has their own space in the Great Arrow. They introduced him to the building that may very well become Subversive’s long-term home.
Schneiderman is happy with the potential that such a place brings and observes that groups without a home are “always a victim of the winds of fate.”
Some of the old reactions do persist, including the almost hostile one from members of the theatre community to the group’s policy of making all events pay-what-you-can, but Schneiderman doesn’t want to stop making shows accessible to all, regardless of their income. In fact, he doesn’t want to change much in hopes of getting a broader audience.
“Focus on what makes you different rather than what makes you the same” he states, “and don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”
November 23, 2008 1:52 pm
Reclaim the Main is preparing to deal with the latest violation of our historic site: “scaffolding wrap”.
Late spring, scaffolding went up around the building on the southwest corner of the Main and Sherbrooke Street…
To read this article, please visit the Recalim the Main website: www.optative.net/reclaimthemain/news.html
Please feel free to comment below
by Jason C. McLean, The Talking Stick
originally published on Outside The Box (http://jasoncmclean.blogspot.com)
With over 300 projects in over 50 venues, the fourth-annual Buffalo Infringement Festival, opening this Thursday, promises to be the biggest infringement yet. We now present a look back to last year’s event, from the point of view of a Montreal infringer…
For the third year in a row, Car Stories played the Buffalo infringement Festival, for the third year in a row, I made it down and for the first time, I found a bit of time to write about it.
Now entering it’s third year, the Buffalo festival is, without a doubt, the largest in the International infringement circuit (so far). While the Montreal infringement improved audiences and developed the local infringement community this year by pulling itself back and focusing on less shows centered around the Plateau neighborhood, Buffalo’s event keeps getting bigger and better.
With over 140 acts this year (up from last year and almost quadruple the number of acts in the original 2005 Buffalo event), the growth in the festival’s size is matched by it’s growth in intimate community feeling and original, spontaneous ideas.
That’s not to say that the festival doesn’t have it’s critics, or should I say critic. Among all the praise and in-depth coverage found in Buffalo’s media, there was one editorial (um, “survival guide”) in the Artvoice urging the festival to drop it’s claim to support and represent underground artists with something to say by giving them a place to say it.
I’m not sure if anyone took that advice to heart, but it sure didn’t look like it on the streets of Allentown (the festival’s epicenter) during the festival’s opening weekend and the subsequent few days we were in town.
As people were busy completing their “self-infringement” assignments, pulled out of a box at Rust Belt Books, four separate public performances turned Allen Street into a spontaneous artistic celebration. On Monday night alone, three of them co-existed simultaneously.
The surreal experience started when Subversive Theatre’s fantastic street-theatre version of Berthold Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule (which I had the chance to catch a day earlier) made it’s way down Allen parade-style past MC Vendetta’s Open-Lot (a musical open-mike in a parking lot) to Day’s Park.
We started preparing for Car Stories, while taking in some of what was happening around us. Just before our first showtime of the evening (with a new show every 30 minutes, Car Stories has several), The Exception and the Rule made it’s way back to Allen Street and took over the parking lot next to Nietzsche’s, briefly trapping one of our actors behind the scene. It moved on to the parking lot where Open-Lot was taking place, just as they went on break.
In the middle of their scene, Car Stories started half a block down outside of Mulligan’s Brick Bar. Our actor, who was watching the show, made it to Mulligan’s in time for her cue and brought the audience back, past the now-resumed Open-Lot and into our car parked in the now theatrically vacated lot next to Nietzsche’s as The Exception and The Rule continued up College Street.
Three street theatre productions all happening at the same time in the same two-block stretch of the same street, with no problems. Truly a great example of what infringing is all about.
What I really found refreshing was that the festival didn’t have to compete with corporate reality ads running up and down the street as we do in Montreal.
This probably isn’t the case all the time in Allentown (I was told that there were some other, more commercial festivals), and quite possibly not the case in other Buffalo districts, but for the few days we were there, it was really nice (and possibly hints at why the festival doesn’t have a Ministry of Culture Jamming).
For the past three visits, our troupe has been housed by the good people at the Nickel City Co-Op. They had taken over a four-story turn-of-the-century mansion (with gargoyles!) and turned it into their home.
This reclaiming of the city is evident all over Buffalo. It’s a community breathing new life into the relics of an older, much more financially prosperous time (Buffalo was once a city of millionaires, not so anymore) and celebrating while doing it. It’s one of the most unique, vibrant artistic communities I’ve encountered and it’s the perfect match for both the infringement and Car Stories.
Since Car Stories takes place in streets, alleys, parks and parking lots that already exist, a big part of the show is finding new use for what’s already there which is why, I feel, we had no problem putting together a show with mostly Buffalo actors in hardly any time.
We came up with the theme and worked out characters and scenes that fit it the day of our first performance. We don’t always do things this spur-of-the-moment, but this time we did, and it worked very well.
We even played on the Artvoice article, telling the audience that we had to make more money, so we were going to do musical theatre and were sending them to an audition with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Back in Montreal, I can only hope that what’s happening in Buffalo will rub off on the rest of the circuit, because when it comes to infringing, they get it.
The 2008 Buffalo Infringement Festival runs July 24th through August 3rd. For more information, including the schedule, please visit www.infringebuffalo.org
by Donovan King, Optative Theatrical Laboratories Radical Dramaturgy Unit
An analysis of Quebec’s 400e Celebrations from a post-colonial viewpoint, related to the subject matter of OTL’s Sinking Neptune.
It can be read online in PDF format here:
Sinking Neptune runs tonight at 11pm at La Maison de l’amitiee, 120 Duluth East, no cover, voluntary contribution