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The 1-Minute Web Cam Cabaret
Live Web cast performance archive
by Angus Leech

From Stage to Screen
Many people are familiar with the concept of the three-day novel writing contest. We've heard rumours about Calgary's wildly successful Ten Minute Play Festival. But how can any performer even attempt to enrapture an audience in one measly minute? With the exception of The Gong Show, few examples of the one-minute performance form spring immediately to mind…and so, detecting a challenge, mayhap a chance for Quixotic glory, HorizonZero decided to enter the fray.

The 1-Minute Web Cam Cabaret was a HorizonZero event streamed live to the Web on January 25, 2004, as part of the High Performance Rodeo organized by Calgary's One Yellow Rabbit theatre company. A substantial online audience joined a near capacity crowd at Calgary's Big Secret Theatre, to be entertained by two co-hosts and ten talented performers who came ready, willing, and able to answer our sixty second summons. The first half of the program was Web cast from the Rodeo stage, while the second half of the afternoon's festivities streamed live to the Cowtown crowd from the halls of our auspicious collaborator, the Société des arts technologiques de Montréal (SAT).

The afternoon in Calgary was frigid, a respectable thirty below centigrade, when audience members began to arrive, un-bundle themselves, and settle into their seats. After a short multimedia interlude featuring El Mareas, a lush pre-recorded video mix by Montreal VJ duo K-Project, Calgary host and curator André Rodrigues took the stage and warmed things up in earnest. Soon we were enjoying the potent poetry of Jeremiah John, and being wistfully wooed by Samuel Garrigo Meza's micro-tale of everlasting love. Sheri-D Wilson invoked the ghost of Burroughs and cut up poems on crows, cows, and other C-words. Then André bellied up to the mic with a poem of his own, and it was soon the turn of Frances Kruk and Diego Medina to tick tock us sweetly toward Jennifer Andersen's tartly terrific deconstruction of the accordion song.

After a wrap of the Calgary event, and a brief intermission, the live audience returned once again to take part in the Montreal festivities via the Big Secret's big screen. From the e-poetics and cabaret antics of part one, the afternoon quickly transitioned toward a charmingly eclectic blend of virtual theatre when Montreal host Valérie Lamontagne stepped in front of the Web camera, emanating characteristic poise and grace. First, Pierre Beaudoin pricked his fingers, and our complacency as well, with a pugilistic act that had many Calgary viewers shivering. Then Katarina Soukup and Jayson Kunuk crackled us with the heat of an Inuit kiss amid an arid Arctic soundscape. Michelle Kasprzak's telematic parade roused the Calgary audience out of their seats to march and wave in time with her megaphone - we can only imagine the response of those watching online. And last but not least, the finale belonged to the remix artists: VJ Pillow and James Duhamel logged onto their laptops and delighted us with a one-minute sound and image riff about online human relationships, and K-Project followed up with a minimalistic geometric whirlwind exploring the subject of time.

So there you have it: one very successful one-minute live Web cam event which both entertained us, and provided some thought-provoking insight into the potential of short, short, short online performances. What's even better is that every second has been recorded and archived right here in the evergreen annals of HorizonZero - we hope you will watch and enjoy!

One more thing: it cannot be said enough times how much we at HorizonZero have appreciated the support of Michael Green and everyone at One Yellow Rabbit; Monique Savoie, Martin Chartrand, and everyone at the SAT in Montreal; and Luke Azevedo and the Creative Electronic Environment (CEE) at the Banff Centre - all of whom provided the unflagging support which made this event possible. We're also enormously grateful to hosts André and Valérie, all of the performers, and our exquisite audience.

Angus Leech is English Editor of HorizonZero.

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