Theatre Preview: MATA HARI explores sexuality, movement, identity

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The mystique of Mata Hari, an exotic dancer who was executed by a French firing squad for allegedly working as a spy for the Germans in World War l, has endured through generations. As a woman who named herself, openly discussed her sexual desire, and played by her own — and not society’s — rules, she’s been often hailed as a femme fatale and even a mother of modern feminism.

Hari’s life has inspired numerous works of art, including the 1931 film starring Greta Garbo, three stage musicals, and a ballet. Vancouver-based arts organization, Single Line Theatre, now adds their contribution to the long list with the forthcoming production, MATA HARI.

Both inspired and fascinated by Hari’s story, creators Rachel Peake and Sinziana Corozel wanted to make a physical theatre piece that examined the concepts of identity and performance through Hari’s multi-faceted life. The project, which began its collaborative process with the British Columbia Arts Council and the Boca del Lupo Micro Performance Series Residency Program in 2014, incorporates physical theatre and dance techniques alongside choral work, strong gestural movement, and object transformation to maintain the physical expression that was integral to Hari’s life. The production is performed in French with English subtitles and a considerable amount of the script uses Hari’s own words as they were recorded in the French War Council interrogation files.

MATA HARI is also informed by in-depth investigation of the Indonesian dance practices on which she based her work and of the dance movement that was springing up around her at the time, seen in the works of other artists such as Isadora Duncan,” adds Corozel, who performs in the piece, in a statement.

MATA HARI

When: March 30 to April 3, 2016

Where: Studio 15 – 227-1555, 7th Avenue West

Tickets: $15 advance and available online
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Yasmine Shemesh is a freelance writer who was born in Vancouver and raised on The Rolling Stones.
@yasmineshemesh

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