It’s not often that a play so stripped down and bare can so effectively capture our attention in an age full of distraction. It takes some pretty powerful performances to carry the weight of the heavily loaded themes presented in The Medea Effect without the aid of elaborate sets, multiple costume changes, and special effects we have come to expect these days, but actors Jennifer Morehouse and James Loye brilliantly deliver so much raw emotion and grit, you will feel it in your bones.
In the Medea Effect, Ada is a woman tormented by her demons, who shows up to audition for Eurypedes’ Medea, the classic Greek tragedy of a mother who brutally slaughters her children to avenge her own heartbreak. Uninterested in listening to Ada's audition, director Ugo, attempts to dismiss her, but is soon drawn in by her tenacity, as parallels begin to be drawn between not only Medea herself, but his own afflicted past. As the two characters begin to chip and scratch away at each other’s hardened facades, we slowly begin to uncover the horrifying truths that lie beneath the surface of their reality, but also our own.
Designer Lyne Paquette drivesthe play’s themes of despair, dislocation, substance abuse and profound loss even further by underscoring poignant moments with subtle soundscapes and visual projections juxtaposed with the bare bones of the lonely stage. The Medea Effect slowly builds on its dark tones and moods until finally brought to the bone-chilling climax, effectively drawing the audience into the very depths of the characters’ inevitable unhinging. Everyone, from actor to viewer alike, is left marked, as though they've just barely managed to come out the other side.
This is pure acting at its finest, nothing more nothing less, and is the perfect example of why the live stage remains such a tangible form of art.
The Medea Effect runs until Saturday Feb. 7 @ The Talisman Theatre at Segal Centre for Performing Arts Studio, 5170 Cote St. Catherine Rd.
When it comes to supporting Indigenous creators, the best place to start is by educating yourself, says Rebekah Elk, a.k.a. @mocassinmama, an Anishinaabe woman from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and a moccasin maker.
It can be difficult for non-Indigenous consumers to show love for these communities without thinking you're overstepping a boundary or appropriating rich histories instead of supporting them, especially when it comes to art.
MTL Blog got the chance to ask the artist a few questions about Indigenous art and culture and how non-Indigenous people can support the plethora of talent here in the city in an authentic and genuine way.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between supporting Indigenous culture and appropriating Indigenous culture?
There is not one Indigenous culture, there are many diverse nations or tribes across North America and the world.
A good starting point for supporting Indigenous is getting to know whose traditional land you’re on and familiarizing yourself with a bit of their history and practices. Learning from Indigenous sources is key to understanding what is considered respectful behaviour and what holds sacred meaning to their community. Learning is the first step to supporting any group and approaching that learning with humility and respect is a must.
Appropriation happens when non-Indigenous folks take up Indigenous practices lightly, without education about the roots of what they’re participating in.
In Canada, it was illegal for Indigenous people to practice their culture for decades, with the last Residential school closing in 1996. These schools were part of a mass-imposed assimilation project by the government and caused harm in many forms to Indigenous people.
This is one of the reasons why Indigenous people are protective of their practices. It is an odd (and hurtful) feeling when it was illegal for your family to do something because it was part of their culture and only a few decades later the very same thing becomes a trend for the non-Indigenous population.
Do you think it’s okay for non-Indigenous people to wear Indigenous clothing? What are the dos and don’ts of buying?
There are so many amazing Indigenous designers. Non-Indigenous people can support Indigenous fashion by purchasing and wearing our designs. Buying Indigenous creations and fashion directly from the source is the best way to rock Indigenous fashion.
While some people worry about what is appropriate to purchase and wear when it comes to fashions from other cultures, usually if it is available for the public to purchase for example in an online shop, you’re okay. The designer or brand has put their clothing into the world with hopes of succeeding as a business and selling their items to whoever appreciates them.
Do: buy from the source, Don’t: try to negotiate the price down — Our creations are valuable, unique, and a reflection of how we as Indigenous people interact with and perceive the world around us.
Many people want to support Indigenous creators, but don’t know where to start. What advice do you have for finding great Indigenous artists in Montreal?
With the current situation of the world, essentially everything is happening online. While in the past I would have suggested going to a cultural event such as Montreal’s Annual Pow Wow where native vendors from all over set up shop for the weekend, right now I would encourage one to look on places like Etsy or Instagram.
With Etsy, you can search a hashtag such as #IndigenousBeadwork, narrow your search locally and find beautiful items from Montreal’s native creatives. Instagram can work similarly, although narrowing your search may be more challenging.
Some of my favourite Indigenous creatives in Montreal who are on Instagram include:
There is no shortage of Indigenous artists in Montreal, and with all of the time at home these days there is plenty of time to create. Indigenous creatives share their work publicly with the purpose of connecting with others, sharing their art form, and often selling their pieces.
In particular, she has become known for her powerful and moving throat singing videos with her mother, Kayuula Nova.
MTL Blog got a chance to speak with Shina about the power of social media, the Inuit culture and what she hopes for the city.
How has social media helped you teach others about your culture?
I'm so glad we have social media as a platform today to educate. A couple of years ago, we didn't have that option. It's a lot easier because it's not like I have to do interviews and wait for them to get out.
It's such an easier way to reach everyone around the world. You're just a click away and everyone can connect easily and communicate with each other. I think it's made it so much easier.
Also, just to have that support, like on TikTok and Instagram. Having that support encouraged us to continue to show [our culture].
It's crazy to see [social media] change. I think it's the right time now, especially because of the movements we've seen in the last couple of months. That's helped a lot, too, to put our foot down and finally speak up.
What do you wish people knew about the Inuit culture?
I want people to know that our culture is still very present and strong. It's not something that was hundreds of years ago — it's something that is still being done right now. We're still practicing our culture.
I want people to see the beauty of it. We do face issues still today and it's important to talk about it. But it's also important to learn the beauty of our culture, our practices, our food, how rich it is.
I want people to know that we're all on the same page. We should be supporting each other and not be against each other. I think a lot of people misunderstand that, telling us that what we're doing is wrong.
I want people to understand that, "Hey! We're supposed to be in this together."
I really want reconciliation and for all of us to help each other and support each other and know that we're supposed to be one, on the same side.
My hope is that the city is a lot more diverse. I think it's beautiful to have all of these different cultures in Montreal, like Chinatown, Little Italy.
But I feel like there's not enough representation of Inuit culture. And I think it would be beautiful and amazing to have more Inuit cultures displayed and shown.
And taught as well in schools — we are in Quebec, after all. I'm not asking for other parts of the world to know our culture. But we're here in Quebec, we're from Northern Quebec. It's crazy to even learn that people didn't even know that we existed, even in Quebec. Sometimes that shocks me. It's not their fault, but I think it would be nice if our culture was taught in schools so that people would know about our culture and to have more representation and to have more room for Inuit in Montreal.
The discussions of inclusivity and racial diversity have definitely come to the forefront in the last year more than ever before. But what does it mean for the children of today and future generations?
Two Montreal dads decided to take that answer into their own hands and start YMMA, a company that makes dolls from Africa to help introduce children of African and non-African descent to these topics from an early age.
Gaëtan Etoga and Yannick Nguepdjop run the company, but know that they aren't just selling dolls; they're sharing the opportunity to build a better future starting with children.
Donned in hand-made garments from Cameroon, the dolls are a beautiful homage to the full-time entrepreneurs' — and even fuller-time dads' — heritage and to show their own daughters what it means to be proud of where you come from. Accessories and outfits are sold, as well.
But these dolls aren't just for children of African descent. YMMA dolls are for anybody and everybody — no matter where you're from.
We got a chance to speak to the duo about how this project came to be and what this adventure has meant to them.
What inspired you to make these dolls? Why now?
GE: We wanted to build a better future for our children. We wanted to show differences while living in peace. We also wanted to share our African culture with the world.
It's not easy to find Black dolls, and when you do, they're really, really, REALLY expensive.
We wanted to let all of the children, but especially Black children, know that they are beautiful just the way they are. There's not a need to be ashamed of their skin colour or their hair texture or whatever it may be. We want to let them know that they are perfect the way they are.
YN: As for why now, when we were thinking of what type of product we could launch, we both agreed that this project could have a really positive impact on society, as opposed to just any other project. Based on that, we decided to move forward with the doll.
It is also a great way for girls to be motivated and inspired.
We always tell people: We are not just selling dolls. There's something bigger behind it.
You use fabrics from Cameroon as a way to honour your home country. What role do you think dolls can play in a child's education about their own heritage and different cultures around the world?
With the history and cultural aspect of the fabrics, we hope that it inspires children to do some research into those fabrics and the country, in general. The fabrics we use are still used to this day for big ceremonies in our kingdom. We hope that playing with our dolls could inspire all children to learn more about each other.
YN: Today, I still think about what toys I played with when I was a child. If I think about my own childhood, all of the toys that we had were of European or American culture. I really liked playing video games, like Super Mario, Marvel, etc. They were missing African characters and there weren't many African toys in general.
The impact that these dolls can bring to the children will actually be when they are adults when they think about these types of toys from Africa with African culture. This is for kids of both African and non-African descent. We hope that all of these children grow up to be adults and have this idea in their mind.
What do you think is missing in the toy industry, in general?
YN: What is missing is diversity in representation. Not just for dolls, but for the entire toy industry, in general.
GE: I actually think it's missing in all industries, not just the toy industry. There are so many that are under-represented. Especially when you compare to the population proportion.
With this venture, we are trying to tell the kids about diversity so that in the future they will be able to fix all of these issues.
As fathers, we are concerned about the future of our children, especially our daughters. We want to have an impact on our children.
If there's one good thing to come out of 2020's mostly indoor lifestyle, it's that the world is finally hopping aboard the K-drama train.
With cliffhangers in nearly every episode, swoon-worthy romance scenes, intense plot twists, and a promise of at least one love traingle (or square) per show, Korean dramas make for some of the most addictive viewing on Netflix. And don't even get us started on the scenery.
If, after staying up until 2:00am binge-watching and clutching a box of Kleenex, you've dreamed of stepping into the shoes of your favourite K-drama star, you're not alone.
From the neon-lit streets of Itaewon to the Instagram-worthy bubblegum pink cafe in Hotel Del Luna, we've all wished we could live inside a K-drama.
The good news is many of your favourite show's locations are open to the public, so when it's finally time to travel again, you can hop on a plane and turn your K-drama fantasies into reality.
Their website covers everything you need to know about South Korea, like travel basics, transportation tips, and even what to eat, so you can spend more time mapping out the locations of your favourite K-drama scenes.
Without further ado (and in no particular order), here are some of the best spots in South Korea to visit if you want to recreate your favourite Netflix K-drama:
1. Shilla Millennium Park as seen in Hwarang: The Beginning
If you want to learn more about Korean history, Shilla Millennium Park is the perfect place to start. Divided into areas like the main stage, village, and hotel, the park lets visitors peek into the life during the Shilla period with performances and architecture unique to the era.
K-drama fans will instantly recognize the park as the set for the training ground in the star-studded Hwarang: The Beginning, but it's also home to other dramas like Queen Seondeok and Boys Over Flowers.
2. Yongsan District, Seoul as seen in Itaewon Class
True to the drama’s name, Itaewon is where one of the most talked-about K-dramas of 2020, Itaewon Class, was filmed.
Known for its vibrant nightlight, international flair, and adorably small alleyways, Itaewon is Seoul’s most diverse and foreigner-friendly district.
The best time to visit the area is when it comes alive at night, when you can explore the buzzing streets and brightly lit neon signs.
You'll want to check out Noksapyeong Bridge where Park Sae-ro-yi often goes in Itaewon Class, and don't forget to put rooftop bars Oriole — where Sae-ro-yi sets up the second DanBam — where Park Sae-Ro-Yi sets up the second DanBam — and The Finest Lounge — where Sae-ro-yi and Cho Yi-seo had their first kiss — on your list, too. End the night with stunning rooftop views over dinner and drinks.
3. Hotel Seine as seen in Hotel Del Luna
With its bubblegum pink brick walls, antique furniture, and purple vest-clad bellboys, you'd be forgiven for thinking Seoul's Hotel Seine was a set from a Wes Anderson film.
This six-story cafe has been one of the hottest places in Ikseon-dong over the last couple of years, and while its Grand Budapest vibe definitely brings in troves of tourists, this hotel-turned-cafe's customers are mostly K-drama fans.
The cafe provides the backdrop for Hotel Del Luna, a drama about a hotel for those who enter the afterlife.
When you're done exploring, don’t forget to take pictures at the Hanok Village and Ikseon-dong nearby!
4. Sejong Forest of Wisdom as seen in It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
For bookworms and K-drama fans alike, the Forest of Wisdom in Sejong is an absolute must-see in South Korea.
Anyone who's binge-watched It's Okay Not To Be Okay recently will instantly recognize this spot from Episode 2, where Ko Mun-yeong had her book signing event.
While the library does not lend or sell any of its books, there are over 200,000 novels, essays, and poems here. You're free to pick up any book you like, grab a cup of coffee or a bingsoo, and read or work on your laptop in the central area.
If you can't make it to Sejong, the Forest of Wisdom has another location in Paju just a few kilometers from the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.
5. Oil Tank Culture Park as seen in Start-Up
With love triangles, mistaken identities, and even a dash of melodrama, Start-Up is the classic K-drama escapism we all needed during the pandemic lockdowns.
Anyone currently binge-watching the series will appreciate a visit to the Oil Tank Culture Park, which appears as the exterior of Sandbox, the fictional startup company where most of the story unfolds.
IRL, the "eco-friendly culture complex" used to be an oil depot in Seoul but has since been transformed into a historical landmark. It now houses a pavilion, amphitheater, information centre, and venues for exhibitions, concerts, and cultural events.
6. Guryongpo Modern Culture and History Street as seen in When the Camellia Blooms
Whether you're headed to South Korea with your SO or your BFF, make sure you head to the historic district of Guryongpo in Pohang — specifically the Guryongpo Modern Culture and History Street — to recreate the love story in When the Camellia Blooms.
The small coastal village, which dates back to 1923, has roots in the Japanese occupation period in Korea. The Guryongpo Modern Culture and History Street, where the Camellia Bar sits, was actually preserved back in 2011 to protect the area's Japanese history.
When you're here, don't forget to check out on the Pohang Jukdo Market for some of the village's famous snow crab.
7. Hallasan National Park as seen in Crash Landing on You
If you binge-watched the Korean drama Crash Landing on You on Netflix, you're probably still trying to process that rollercoaster of a finale.
The good news is you can curb your Yoon Se-ri and Ri Jeong-hyeok romance withdrawals by planning a trip to the location where it all began.
Hallasan National Park in Jeju Island is where the forbidden love story of the two main characters kicks off, and when you're done relieving the series, there are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
8. Hongdae as seen in Hospital Playlist
If you're visiting South Korea it's inevitable that you'll find yourself at a noraebang, or a Korean-style private karaoke room — most likely in Hongdae.
Known for its nightlife and karaoke lounges, the busy street of Hongdae is a must-see for any visitor to South Korea. And noraebangs are extremely popular here.
Karaoke chain Luxury Su is one of the most popular, and Hospital Playlist fans will undoubtedly recognize it from Episode 3, the scene where Lee Ik-jun takes his son to show him where he performed for the first time.
The perfect amount of intrigue, melodrama, and fun, t's no wonder why K-dramas have exploded in popularity.
Of course, the absolutely beautiful scenery might have a little something to do with it; and, once it's safe to do so again, it only makes sense that you should try to live out your very best K-drama life by visiting your favourite spot.
But if you can’t wait until then, there’s a solution: Korea Tourism is hosting a Facebook livestream food tour of Korea’s Gwangjang Market, taking place this December 22 at 9:30 PM EST, and featuring some of the area’s most iconic dishes, including JapChae, TteokBokki and GimBap, and a whole lot more.