HATCH: celebrating 10 years of new performance

Feature Image photo credit: Matt Campagna

In anticipation of the launch of Harbourfront Centre’s online hub for HATCH 2014, including complete details about this year’s participating artists, it’s a great time to reflect on the experiences of some the past participants.

HATCH turns 10 this year. As a laboratory for new performance works it has seen an eclectic array of artists and art forms over the years, along with a number of different guest curators – each with their own curatorial lens.

As we embarked upon the process of selecting artists and collectives for 2014, we went back and asked previous participants to tell us what they learned and experienced during their respective residencies in the Studio Theatre. We were thrilled (and often entertained) with the responses we received, and decided we should share some of them with you.

In 10 syllables (give or take) what was HATCH to you?

Total freedom of choice. – Chad Dembski

HATCH was my birth into the world of Toronto performance-making. – Jordan Tannahill

HATCH provided a place for hard (but necessary) learning. – Cara Spooner

An opportunity to create freely. – Philip McKee

Collaboration. time, space, rhythm, training, focus, metal. – Jenn Goodwin & Camilla Singh

Stellar nourishing of a nearly impossible project. – Reena Katz

A chance to jump without worrying about the landing. – Gein Wong

A tank where ideas turned into real matter. – Andrea de Keijzer

What was the most insightful piece of feedback that you received during HATCH?

“Trust your instincts.” – Jordan Tannahill

Just getting accepted into HATCH was insightful because it was the first time I experienced the feeling of someone saying, “We think your ideas are good” – good enough to be supported in this program. That permission alone is what encouraged me and still does. – Cara Spooner

To embrace the uncertainty of the creation process. As a ‘director’ of work, there is the desire and pressure ‘to know’ what is happening, and where things are going. However, by being too controlling, or insisting that everything be rational and conscious, all kinds of accidents, exploration and intuitive discoveries are inhibited. Ame Henderson + Jo Hunter really encouraged me and the group to sit in the tension the exists between knowing and not knowing. I think a lot of the most interesting material that we developed during that time came out of trying things which we didn’t yet understand as directly relevant to the source material.

I would say the continual feedback from multiple HFC staff was appreciated. I love collaborative rooms where everyone is talking and throwing out ideas! – Gein Wong

Describe an experience during your time in HATCH that has stayed with you?

Opening Night – March 7th 2008 – the craziness of making the show being matched by the intensity of the actual show with an audience that was also (at the time) full of presenters, friends, peers and strangers. One of the proudest moments in my creation career; the company included Evan Webber, Michael Wheeler, Ulysses Castellanos, Michael Challenor, Eve Wylden, and Andrea Davis and they threw themselves into it full time. – Chad Dembski

Buying hundreds of cans of non-alcholic beer with Laura Nanni at the Queens Quay Loblaws and being told by the perplexed cashier to ‘have a fun weekend’. – Jordan Tannahill

The haunting wrap around the walls imagery. – Penn Kemp & Daniela Sneppova

The thing I remember most vividly is how much we thought we had failed at achieving our goal of expressing some of what was true + beautiful in the text of King Lear. As the evening of presentation neared we felt quite nervous and we resigned ourselves to simply sharing our process: to having people present and bearing witness to our attempt. Our experience showing our work taught us that the attempt, the grand leap, was actually a virtue of the piece. It’s roughness, it’s shortfalls, were actually an important aspect of what it means to try to stage Shakespeare in the 21st century, and in many ways this is what LEAR has evolved to be about. – Philip McKee

Eating waffles in bed with R3 collective and convincing Kirsten that she should join us. – Reena Katz

With a public showing on Saturday, I really appreciated being able to decide on whether to show the whisper garden the night before. This required HFC to rework the logistics for the presentation at the last minute. This among other things, really showed me how much HATCH prioritises the creation of art and the amount of effort HFC exerts to make things happen. – Gein Wong

How did HATCH shape your approach to performance making?

It bolstered my faith in experimental work being about the future (while acknowledging the past), and truly helped confirm that I need to do work I love and believe in with all my heart. – Chad Dembski

HATCH demonstrated how rich, personal, and lasting a relationship between an artist and a curator can be. As a twenty year old, it meant the world to me that Laura took a chance on me – that she saw value in my ideas – and helped me on my path to actualizing them. That relationship has sculpted the way I conduct myself as a professional artist and curator today. – Jordan Tannahill

A reminder to play, hit hard, fall soft, enjoy, push, take chances, take it seriously while not too seriously, eat more hot dogs… veggie. – Jenn Goodwin & Camilla Singh

It made me long for a full crew for every performance – especially a stage manager, omg! …instead of the occasional tech assistant that a gallery would normally provide. – Reena Katz

It’s too soon to tell, but I’ll know for sure in few years! – Gein Wong

1 final dibujo

Photo credit: Manolo Lugo

And a few additional messages that came in from previous participants:

Hatch as the “Cool Parent”:

But perhaps more importantly, HATCH is a uniquely creative environment that fosters a sense of community among its participants. Under Ame Henderson & Jo Hunter’s gracious care, we all felt like family. And exchanged ideas accordingly during group gatherings. So it isn’t so outlandish to compare HATCH to The Cool Parent. You know, the one who casually leaves out Playboy/girl mags for you to discover. And when you mention things like, “Can i have a Duran Duran haircut,” they say, “Yes, but please listen to this Motorhead record first.” Then later on in life, you find yourself joyfully recounting this very story to a complete stranger in an effort to explain why you’ve seen Slayer 13 times. Yeah, baby. – Arthur Yeung, Lesley Loksi Chan, and Laura Kappel

Finally, some thoughts about HATCH participant potlucks:

Power of the Potluck: HATCH digs deep in so many ways. And with all the fantastic resources and opportunities that the residency offers, it might seem frivolous to highlight the hodgepodge communal dinners. But the periodic breaking of bread (and quinoa salad and spicy chilli and home-cooked lasagna and blueberry pie) with a group of creative and caring artists — It was the best. – Jess Dobkin

And on that note, we ask you to stay-tuned for our web launch on January 20th to check out what’s happening with our HATCH 2014 artists. See you online!