Critic in residence Nicholas Leno writes,

Run for your life, it’s the blueberries! Zombies are closing in on your location, even the narrator doesn’t know where to go, and it’s all because of that damn blueberry pie! This is ‘a-PIE-calypse NOW!!!’, one of the incredibly creative experiences I had last night as Rhizomes’ multi-disciplined installations and performances opened for a weekend of exciting audience engagement. The works of ten artists, many of whom are local to the Niagara region, are spread throughout rooms of the old Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse.

Oddworks Theatre company presents their Rhizome 'a-PIE-calypse NOW!!!'

Oddworks Theatre company present their Rhizome ‘a-PIE-calypse NOW!!!’

Last night Rhizomes opened with an unusual preview, to fit the unusual experience it presents. Hayley and I were invited into Fourgrounds New Media which had been transformed into an artistic night club. An array of video projections played across the walls; a DJ holding an old telephone blared his beats; and randomly contorted bicycles filled the room’s corners. The building was jam-packed with excited participants who danced their time away, patiently awaiting a coloured piece of Lego that indicated which Rhizomes event to attend. Fairgrounds New Media seemed to be a microcosm of the experience, or perhaps in itself a preview of all Rhizomes. All this crazy fun added up to a party quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

After my delicious glass of red wine (and a beer for Hayley) we were asked to follow our white collared tour guides, eager and friendly volunteers from Brock University.  We took our drinks down church street and were guided into the darkened Courthouse. This is where the experience starts to get a little varied, as participants are led into different rooms. Each room I attended provided surprisingly varied engagements: you and a tiny audience may watch a short play about deadly blueberries, or you may be asked sit alone in a dark closet and listen to a love song over headphones. The exhibits last 5-15 minutes and the audiences range from solo viewings to any number of people.

A certain room doesn’t spark your interest? Fear not, the choice of how and where to focus your attention is completely yours to make. Part of the experience is deciding what you want to engage with, and how you choose to engage with an exhibit will vary depending on who you are. One thing I will say, there is no wrong answer – the beauty of this event is that it’s what you make it.

Unfortunately, because the evening was presented (rather awkwardly) in preview-style, I was only able to attend three of the ten Rhizomes. However, the party I mentioned was presented specifically for the preview, so while I was unhappy to miss out on some of the experiences, it was a fun way to kick off this creatively engaging event with the artists. It was definitely a party I won’t soon forget. And the preview portion of the evening definitely gave me a taste of what is to come. To anyone who is planning on attending Rhizomes tonight: I’ll see you there, this is something I want to experience again.

The Rhizomes will be running Saturday and Sunday in the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre.
April 26 at 10pm-12am
April 27 at 2pm-4pm
Admission is $10 or a festival pass

About the Author


Leave a Reply