Three cheers for Prismatic - provocative, soul-touching and just plain fun

click to enlarge Party on the waterfront with A Tribe Called Red
Party on the waterfront with A Tribe Called Red

I think it's safe to say that Prismatic Arts Festival was a runaway success. The buzz built on social media over the four days of the event, and a diverse crowd came out to a wealth of events that included play readings, fully-staged works, concerts, workshops, art installations and more.

On Saturday, I took in a breath-taking work of dance called NeoIndigenA, a world premiere by award-winning artistic director, choreographer and performer Santee Smith.

I am struggling for words to describe the performance. I do not speak the language of dance. The stories from Aboriginal culture are not my familiar stories. Yet this piece spoke to me on an elemental level. I left amazed by the power and lyricism of Smith's body. My mind was racing as I worked to construct a narrative from the dance.

Smith seemed to both inhabit and to be possessed by animal spirits. She traveled through portals (Birth? Death?). Gathered bone and antler and fashioned a nest. Traveled through air. Slithered on land. Slipped through water.

For an hour and half, I was carried to realms I was only half aware existed. Gorgeous. Impressive. Mind-altering.

Sunday stretched my mind in another direction. Good People Bad Things is a one-man show by playwright Daniel Thau-Elef. It's a timely, provocative piece that explores "good" and "evil" in various degrees. Three stories are woven together: Thau-Elef's experience as a Jewish man who is critical of Israel's military action in Gaza, the story of notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann, and the story of a progressively abusive relationship.

This is not a play that offers answers, but Thau-Elef raises valuable, thought-provoking questions in an engaging manner. 

Since 2008, Prismatic has been a biannual event, but the festival's creators, Shahin Sayadi and Maggie Stewart made the happy announcement that it will now be happening annually at the end of August at the Alderney Landing Cultural Centre.

When you see what people are saying about Prismatic, you'll know why that's something to look forward to: