For the second year in a row b current is presenting AFTEROCK PLAYS – a series that aims to “uncover the lived experiences of Toronto’s diverse cultural landscape.” Femme Playlist, the coming-of-age tale of a queer woman of colour, and Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera, an exploration of male relationships and fame, are on at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre now until October 25th. Click here to get tickets.
Two of our writers were at the premiere of Femme Playlist. Here are their reasons why this performance is a must see.
At the beginning of Femme Playlist Catherine Hernandez says that she constantly subjects her artwork to public scrutiny as a way to remain accountable and honest. She then delivers on this promise in brilliant fashion over the next 45 minutes. Femme Playlist is powerful and touching and hilarious and real. Hernandez packs the most important and emotional parts of her life into a flowing and succinct performance that cuts right to the point. From her slow emergence through the stage-cutrtain to open the play, right through to the poignant and appropriately dramatic ending, Hernandez mesmerizes and delights.
The story is about the moments that shaped her life, and somehow also the moments that shape all of our lives. I oddly found myself both learning from and identifying with the experiences of a Philippine upbringing and the sexual awaking of a girl into a queen woman. Through extreme honesty, amazing transitions from the funny to the heart-breaking, Hernandez allows you to laugh at life’s most awkward moments – like when you hesitantly gave your first hand-job.
What was best was how Hernandez reaches past the traditional barriers between performer and audience and confidently speaks right to you. More amazingly, and what brings the true power of this play, is how she speaks so candidly about her most intimate moments.
In an intimate space like Buddies, I had my guard up knowing full well that what I was about to experience would likely break down these barriers. It was ‘one of those days’ for me, and I wasn’t prepared for Femme Playlist. What’s incredible about a show like this is that its story is presented in a way that we can experience it; because we can relate, we can understand, and/or we can embark on a journey with Catherine Hernandez, our protagonist and hero.
Hernandez is a bundle of energy – positive and positively negative. This one woman show fills every corner of the internal and external space available, whether you’re expecting it to or not. Its fast-paced, semi-linear narrative keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow Hernandez as she bounces around from memory to memory. The tangible flow of the narrative – in truth and in script – is all encompassing when it is any bit of funny, reflective, or honest. We watch this woman relive those life changing moments as a girl, an adolescent, a woman, a force. She is strong, and we experience the growth and embodiment of being so.
It is a brave and inspiring feat to paint yourself across a stage like Hernandez does. For that, not only do I commend, respect, and look up to her, but I also applaud her on her ability to present intimate ideas and talents in such a succinct and ever-changing narrative.