You may know Sarah Michaelson as Winnipeg DJ Mama Cutsworth. Now she's turned into a Fringe Festival performer in a very unique collaboration with two circus actors from Colombia. The improvised wordless show is called Speechless.
Michaelson first met Felipe Ortiz and Daniel Orrantia at an improv festival in Germany, then coincidentally encountered each other a few months later at a festival in Edmonton. At that event they were thrown together in an ensemble show, as often happens at improv festivals, and their five-minute improvised music and movement piece was a hit. They decided to expand their wordless improv into a full show.
Speechless has already been performed in Germany, Brazil and Colombia. Its presentation at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival will be its Canadian premiere.
"It's really working and I'm so excited to be bringing it home," said Michaelson.
Ortiz and Orrantia are members of a Cirque de Soleil-like circus troupe in Bogota, La Gata Cirko, so their style is very acrobatic and physical.
Michaelson feels lucky to have met this talented duo, but admits the distance that separates them presents some challenges.
"We're collaborating in this long-distance way which is pretty crazy because we can't rehearse in person," said Michaelson.
"We do a lot of co-research, for example, a lot of our work is inspired by the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, so there's this element of magical realism and the surreal," she explained.
"So we all read the same Marquez novels, and then we watch Buster Keaton films and we make sure we're all keeping in the same research headspace with our work."
Even though no words are spoken, Michaelson feels they are able to convey a storyline and sense of emotion.
"That's my favourite thing about the show, that everyone is understanding it on the same very core level through music, through expression, physical stuff, so there are no translation issues."
After the Winnipeg run the trio take Speechless on a European tour.
Speechless is being presented at Venue #21, Shaw Performing Arts Centre (MTYP) at various times July 16-27.