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One site, three artists, endless possibilities

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The idea behind the inaugural One Trunk Festival is to send teams of artists to a Winnipeg site and create individual pieces that will fit into a larger collaboration presented Sept. 8 at the West End Cultural Centre.

Andraea Sartison, the artistic director of the fledgling festival, assembled three crews consisting of a musician, writer and visual artist, including the trio of sound artist Andy Rudolph, filmmaker Deco Dawson and author Melissa Steele, who were assigned to capture the essence of the Elmwood Cemetery.

"She failed to mention the cemetery was under lock and key and surrounded by this giant fence at least 10 feet high and very sharp on top," says Rudolph, 29. "I started climbing with my equipment and felt kind of weird breaking into a cemetery. All I was stealing was some of the sounds whistling through so I didn't feel too bad, although I was totally trespassing."

Rudolph, who calls himself a hired gun for weird musical collaborations, began wandering around the rows of gravestones in search of a location to record. The sounds of crickets, birds, passing trains and the odd siren were hardly inspiring. Then it hit him that his approach was wrong and that he should let silence speak for itself.

"I found a good spot along the river where there were two really big tombstones which acted like two perfect receiving dishes for audio," says Rudolph, whose recent project was an inter-species collaboration between belugas and humans in Churchill. "There was a ton of sound pooling."

His microphone picked up this unidentified sucking, creaking sound that intrigued Rudolph enough to return to the cemetery for another midnight visit.

"The sound was a little spooky," says the drummer. "There was definitely some groaning and shrieking but it was mostly coming from the neighbourhood across the river. I recorded a more immersive, environmental sound and put those exciting train noises to build over top and built a bit of a narrative."

Rudolph submitted his 15-minute soundscape with Dawson's video and Steele's 10 pages of poetry to theatre artist Grant Guy, artistic director of Adhere & Deny, and projectionist Jaymez, who together will fashion a presentation.

"The festival is mixing inter-disciplinary artists together, which is essentially what I do all the time," says Dawson. "It was one of those things that you couldn't say no to because it is everything that I believe in as an artist."

The other performances will be made up of the contributions of science writer Chris Rutkowski, photographer Kristian Jordan and Nathan's lead singer Keri Latimer, who all were inspired by the Louis Riel statue at the legislature while the threesome of graphic novelist Greg Chomichuk, writer Ariel Gordon and cellist Natanielle Felicitas went to Central Park.

"I was interested in how these different artists will interpret the same place," says Sartison, who directed the fringe hit Hamlet as Told on the Street. "The focus for me is about process and product and to build a community of artists who are interested in this kind of collaboration."

She would like the One Trunk Festival evolve into an event like the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver or Edmonton's Nextfest, which showcases the voice of the next generation of artists.

"It's not a final premiere performance but an interesting collaboration between some of Winnipeg's finest artists. It's about working together and building a foundation for things to come."

One Trunk Festival takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday at the West End Cultural Centre.

-- -- --

Colleen Sutton, a.k.a. RiderGirl, wears her heart on the sleeve of her green and white Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey, but there is room there for all the teams of the Canadian Football League.

Sutton returns to Winnipeg preceding her beloved Roughriders -- who will play the sad-sack Bombers in the annual Banjo Bowl Sunday -- to perform her one-woman show RiderGirl. The 2012 fringe festival hit begins a three-night run at the Gas Station Theatre (204-284-9477) starting Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

"I love the Riders but I'm a champion of the league," she says over the phone from Ottawa, where she lives. "Grey Cup is the most Canadian event of the year. No matter who you cheer for, wear your colours."

To encourage her audience to turn out in team jerseys, Sutton will discount their tickets to $25 from the regular admission of $30. RiderGirl explores one prairie girl's seduction into football fandom and her realization that the rules don't just apply to the game. Sutton promises not to bad-mouth Bomber fans about their bumbling team.

"They enjoy the trash-talking, they laugh harder than anyone else," she says.

-- -- --

Here are a couple of numbers that might be of interest to fringe-goers. The Edmonton Fringe Festival ended recently with its 210 indoor shows drawing ticketed attendance of 117,000, up about 5,000 from 2012. That compares with a new high of 101,488 attendance based on 169 shows at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.

What you might not the realize is that the Winnipeg total is twice as large as the largest American fringe festival, in Minneapolis.

The MFF calls itself the largest unjuried fringe festival, to differentiate itself from the much larger New York International Fringe Festival, which uses a jury-selection process. Ticket sales to the 176 shows there last month totalled 49,991, an eight per cent increase.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2013 C7

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