Macro Digitals: CONNECTIONS
Friday-Sunday March 25-27, various times
Alderney Landing Theatre, 2 Ochterloney Street
$17-$42 in person, $11.50 online, buy tickets here
Ask Kat McCormack, artistic director of Eastern Front Theatre, and they’ll tell you that “theatre is a mix of all of the art forms: It’s storytelling with each aspect. There’s dance, there’s music, there’s visual art, there’s performance art. When all of these things are together, that is when it really is its best.” This moment of philosophy sprouts up organically as McCormack explains EFT’s latest showcase, Macro Digitals: CONNECTIONS, held this weekend, March 25-27, both in person at Alderney Landing Theatre and online.
“It’s less about theatre and more about ‘What’s exciting?’ It’s ‘What do you want to see as an audience member? Let’s make that,’” McCormack begins, explaining the series of seven large-scale works put together by over 30 local artists. Each piece at Macro Digitals is a self-contained, bite-sized performance, with formats that range from an interactive board game to a found poetry generator to more traditional monologues. And each can be consumed in a few minutes or revelled in for as long as the viewer wants, similar to looking at a painting or a sunset.
The showcase isn’t EFT’s first pandemic-era production. The Dartmouth-based company has been busy all COVID long, debuting Stevey Hunter’s body-positive play Fat Juliet last fall and, in April 2021, dropping Micro Digitals—Macro’s precursor—a totally online series of small plays meant to be binged. (The creation process began with McCormack asking “what story can you tell in 60 seconds?” they say, explaining it was a bid to meet viewer’s pandemic-shortened attention spans.)
This weekend’s Macro Digitals feels like the next step in EFT’s post-COVID development, as well as yet another example of Halifax indie theatre broadening the definition of what a play can be. Since 2019—before the pandemic!—the local scene has been actively expanding and reinventing theatre’s form, from EFT contemporary Zuppa Theatre’s app-based plays, to the drag-fuelled Zoom rooms of Heist Live Art, to the slowly unfurling theatre of the New Pants Project, which began its 2020 play from:Florine not with a curtain opening, but with a letter arriving to audience members by mail.
“We talk a lot at EFT about theatre-adjacent artists,” McCormack says. “So what I’d like to see more of in Halifax—which I think we could be doing really well—is collaborating with people who are outside of the theatre niche.” With Macro Digitals, McCormack says, Eastern Front is “bringing in people from different art streams to work together, and that’s really expanding the lives of the artists, and allowing the theatre artists who may not have the skills to do some of these things. It’s allowing them to create what they want to without limits of: ‘You gotta tell a story in 90 minutes’ or ‘you gotta have a conclusion and a climax.’
“The more contained the idea is, the more you can actually push boundaries. You can take a spark and make it real without having to do three years of dramaturgy and workshops,” McCormack says. The works at this weekend's showcase “are instant ideas, because I think, with theatre, what sometimes you might not realize is it takes years to get these shows up. So if you're trying to write a piece that's topical about what's happening right now, people still aren't going to see it for at least two years. So this is also a chance for us to show off like: ‘This is what people are interested in right now.’”