This April, local theatre artist Jake Tkaczyk will be curating and hosting Mile Zero Dance’s (MZD) Dirt Buffet Cabaret for the first time. Tkaczyk is the fifth Edmonton-based artist to curate the interdisciplinary variety show this season following the likes of Nasra Adem, Barry Bilinsky, Steve Pirot and Krista Posyniak. Earlier this month, Tkaczyk spoke to Dirt Buffet founder Ben Gorodetsky over email about his upcoming show.

Ben Gorodetsky: What kind of energy or mood are you hoping to cultivate for the cabaret you are curating?
Jake Tkaczyk: I think an integral part to any sort of live art or performance is the integration and acknowledgement of the audience. That’s what makes this form of entertainment and art so different than film – there in an instant feedback loop between performer and spectator and in fact, the spectators can often be one of the most engaging parts of a performance. So I’m hoping that the individual acts of the audience incorporate a cohesive conversation between audience and performer. I especially LOVE when things go wrong, or take unexpected turns because that’s when the story and action becomes real, very real.

BG: Something I love about DBC is the possibility of genuine surprise. Can you recall a time you were delightfully (or horrifically) surprised by a performance you witnessed?
JT: There have definitely been many times I’ve been surprised by performances. One moment that really comes to mind is actually from a Dirt Buffet Cabaret you curated where there were these “National Park Rangers/Interpreters” who were teaching the audience about mating of animals. At first I thought it was a real piece that they did for public and children until it just got so wild that I knew it couldn’t possibly be real. And just the farther it went, the more exciting the piece became and the more engrossed I was.

BG: In what ways did growing up in the rural, farming community (dare I say village?!) of Holden, AB influence you as an artist?
JT: I think growing up on a farm made all mediums of art very exciting to me. Every time I had an opportunity to go to the city, or to Calgary and see plays, museums, art galleries, performance art, I did. And this vast exposure gave me lots of inspiration for my own pieces, and for my personal aesthetic. Also, attending Theatre Alberta’s Artstrek and then starting a theatre company in Holden at age 16 where I taught kids about theatre (there was no music, art, or drama in our elementary or high school) gave me a chance to learn about what made good art by teaching and failing and learning from my own failures.

BG:I know you have a keen interest in neo-bouffon, and I’ve personally seen you do some wonderfully provocative work. What place does provocation have for you in a performance practice?
JT: Thanks Ben! I have written many an essay on this topic – so I’ll try to keep it very succinct. To me provocation and creating a relationship with the audience is pivotal. If done immediately and effectively, it removes the option for them to become passive, and it ensures that they’re very carefully listening in case they are inadvertently involved in something that comes up in the play. It is important to remember that provocation is not being used for the sake of self-indulgence. Using extremity to disgust or engage the audience provokes emotions, thoughts, and questions. This is ideally the purpose of art, no?

BG: If you could curate anyone (living or dead, local or global) for a DBC, who would it be?
JT: Well, shit. There aren’t enough Dirt Buffets in the world to give me a long enough roster to program all of the people I’d want to program. I think Beyonce could do some pretty cool stuff. I think perhaps a collaboration between Beyonce and John Cage would be lovely. Or Nai Tah (Mr. Little) a court jester from 1851 sounds like a guy I could really get along with. Honestly, I love, love, love, seeing people who aren’t classically trained artists/performers create work. It’s exciting to me because there is so much liveness in their bodies, voices, breath.

Thursday, April 4
8 PM
$10 (or best offer) at the door
Learn more: