Literary Nonfiction. Performance Studies. Hybrid Genre. AUTHENTICITY IS A FEELING: MY LIFE IN PME-ART is a compelling hybrid of history, memoir, and performance theory. It tells the story of the interdisciplinary performance group PME-ART and their ongoing endeavour to make a new kind of highly collaborative theatre dedicated to the fragile but essential act of being yourself in a performance situation.
Written, among other things, to celebrate PME-ART's twentieth anniversary, the book begins when Jacob Wren meets Sylvie Lachance and Richard Ducharme, moves from Toronto to Montreal to make just one project, but instead ends up spending the next twenty years creating an eccentric, often bilingual, art. It is a book about being unable to learn French yet nonetheless remaining Co-Artistic Director of a French-speaking performance group, about the Spinal Tap-like adventures of being continuously on tour, about the rewards and difficulties of intensive collaborations, about making performances that break the mold and confronting the repercussions of doing so. A book that aims to change the rules for how interdisciplinary performance can be written about today.
The book also features contributions from: Caroline Dubois, Richard Ducharme, Claudia Fancello, Marie Claire Forté, Adam Kinner, Sylvie Lachance, Nadia Ross, Yves Sheriff, Kathrin Tiedemann and Ashlea Watkin.
In AUTHENTICITY IS A FEELING, Jacob Wren investigates the possibility of being oneself in a performance situation-- including the performance of this beautiful, quiet, vulnerable book. In it, he recounts his utopian efforts at non-hierarchical collaboration over the last twenty years -- not only with the members of his oddball, charming performance collective, PME-ART, but also with his spectators and readers. As he once told an audience: we're only going to be in the same room together for the next hour and a half and then we'll probably never see each other again. But so many things seem impossible nowadays. And just because something's impossible doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Curious reader, open the book and try spending some time with him. It may even make some things seem possible. --Barbara Browning
Part dance, part social critique, part heady fucking around. PME-ART interrogates the idea of the performance itself. But it never fails to be that performance, and a damn good one. God bless Canada. --Brian Parks, The Village Voice