Mona Lisa Must Ache (2016)

I experience few things that give me as much joy as the work of Mia Star Van Leeuwen and Ian Mozdzen. For Mona Lisa Mustache, they are joined by Coral Maloney and Charlene Van Buekenhout. The work transported me to Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus: “A horror story, the face is a horror story.” Mona Lisa Mustache effects a grotesquely beautiful disruption of this horror, absurdly decoding and overcoding signs, relentlessly disrupting faciality while gleefully wreaking havoc on theatre conventions. Deleuze and Guattari tell us “Faces are not basically individual; they define zones of frequency or probability, delimit a field that neutralizes in advance any expressions or connections unamenable to the appropriate signification.” The face, faciality is a code, an overdetermined signifier, a politics, already divorced from the body “the body, head included, has been decoded and has to be overcoded by something we shall call the Face.” But one can “get out of the black hole of subjectivity, of consciousness and memory, of the couple and conjugality.” Mona Lisa anarchically dismantles THE FACE while hilariously exploding the black hole of subjectivity. The performances are raw, dreadfully ravishing while gorgeously ugly. Generous and greedy, tender and cruel, this wondrous work reminds me that in a world beyond sense making, the force and power of malevolence is best revealed through loving sweetness. — Praba Pilar, Scholar, Activist, Performance Artist

The Sandwich (2012)

The Sandwich, among other things, addresses the isolating versus expansive forces of this increasingly bizarre world through experimental performance that is socially healing not in the conventionally therapeutic sense of coaxing someone back into this rather ill society, but in the sense of delivering a jolt of difference that makes the passive mind active once again. The Sandwich reminds the mind and body of sensations that get buried when our energies are stolen or the benefit of the already engorged elite. The Sandwich is a critical thinking escape pod that brings us to the core of where we are by welcoming us to dream beyond the illusions we’re being fed.

As we prepare to land, our guide kindly reminds us: “Life is but a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.”

— Milena Placentile, Curator, 2012

Le Petit Mort, Edgy Women, Montreal (2011)


We’re warned before the show begins: you might want to get a drink…

It starts with a mask glowing on a microphone and a single verse: “They shall see me naked.”After a healthy swig of brandy and a whisper in an audience members’ ear, she puts on the glowing skeleton mask and grabs the gnome. She’s lost, and has lost her lover. And, taking it hard—in a sweet, sorrowful way—she takes another brandy, and tells another story. His last request? Her nudity. And unable to undress in time, he dies.

She’s not quite over it, and what follows this is a spiral, is cyclical, is repetition. “Wait! Wait! Wait!” she yells, struggling to unzip her dress, remover her bra. Madness building in the circles she runs around the stage. “I can do it,” she continues, later. “And fulfill my dead boyfriends wish to be naked for all of you.” So begins a descent into naked, naked nakedness. She’s drunk and amusing. She’s engaging, sultry—but also sad. Sipping from other peoples’ drinks, she cracks crass jokes. She thinks someone has called her a snatch. And we laugh, at first, thinking that this performance might be a comedy…

“I’m going to show you my snatch,” she dares, looking us wildly in the eyes before running behind the black velvet curtain. “Are you ready?” she teasingly slurs, before exposing her vag behind the curtain like a peep show. The audience claps, laughs, smiles. She’s showing us her nakedness, and for a moment we think we should be enjoying it.

What happens next is triggered by Sam Cooke. Specifically “I’ve been loving you.” The music starts, and so does the realization that this isn’t actually funny, or charming, or seductive (though she is all of these things). Circling around the stage in various stages of undress and distress, figuratively pissing and shitting on the little gnome, she descends into despair. Her repetition, her cyclical craze, brings tears to eyes. And we realize she’s not naked and free and fulfilled—but exposing her wounds, her deep-seated grief. Her loss.

A powerful final performance for the Edgy Women Festival, Mia van Leeuwen & Ian Mozdzen’s Le Petit Mort is strong, provocative and touching. It’s a piece of theatre that looks you in the eye, and demands your heart. It’s likely—and deservingly—going to sell out tonight, so get your tickets early and don’t miss it.

It will make you laugh, and cry, at loss and life and nakedness.

Time 2b Fame Us: Identity Theft in Duet (2010)

Article: Fame not all it’s cracked up to be, even for ‘them’

by Kevin Prokosh, Winnipeg Free Press

Read here:

Le Mort (2009)

The show tonight was sensational — just incredible. You are really an incredible actress and comedienne!! The leg ‘n’ snatch combo was so uncommonly hilarious and something ineffable, too. In fact, there were so many things on stage that I’d never seen before. Your running laps in your own spritzed water was truly ingenious and gorgeous! Thanks so much and congrats to both of you. A wondrous adaptation and performance!

– Guy Maddin, Filmmaker


By Andrea Karr, The Manitoban, December, 2009

Local troupe’s Le Mort is terrifying and terrific

I walked up the stairs to Out of Line Theatre’s production of Le Mort in utter terror. Wouldn’t you be completely terrified if the website for a play showcased a naked woman’s crotch drenched in soup? The disclaimer in the program did nothing to calm my nerves: “We ask that audiences leave promptly after the showing of Le Mort [ . . . ] we’ll have a lot of cleaning to do.” Cleaning of what? Soup? Blood? Shredded body parts? Maybe I should have worn a raincoat.

The production, based on Georges Bataille’s erotic novel Le Mort opens with the entrance of the narrator, Death (Ian Mozdzen). He sits in a curtain-draped corner, wearing a skull mask, and reads excerpts of Bataille’s novel to his listeners. Thus, the production becomes something like a storytelling session with plenty of audience interaction. Soon, Death introduces Marie (Mia van Leeuwen). Marie’s lover, Edward, dies at the beginning of the novel, and on his deathbed, Edward asks Marie to take off her clothes. Despite much tearing of clothing, and the violent shaking of her naked breasts, Marie cannot fully undress before Edward dies. The rest of the story follows Marie in her attempt to come to terms with her nakedness and sexuality during a drunken rampage in a nearby bar.

While the production could easily leap from one uncomfortable moment to another, Mozdzen and van Leeuwen find the comedy in the story. They use sound to perfection in their small space, and they have hauntingly musical voices, like something out of an old radio mystery. Van Leeuwen is especially intriguing, with excellent control of her body and a strong ability to improvise. If not for her, I probably would have dismissed this production as overly vulgar with gratuitous nudity and unnecessary shock values (Marie wrestles a dwarf, then pees, vomits and defecates on his head — with water, soup, and chocolate sauce). However, because she laughs at herself, interacts with the audience, sings, screams and takes off all her clothes, I give her a big pat on the back. She has more guts than I have. And even if I cannot relate to her character’s need to show off her “snatch,” I can understand the feelings of uncertainty and desperation at the loss of love.

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend a show like this for the faint of heart. In fact, I would even recommend a solo outing to see Out of Line’s future productions. That’s what I did, and I had a quite enjoyable time because I didn’t feel the need to act shocked or embarrassed for the sake of other people. Sure, the play was outrageous. I saw a lot of naked body parts. I got to smell soup mixed with chocolate sauce mixed with a sweet, flowery perfume. Yet, in the end, I felt liberated and quite proud of myself for sticking it out. So let’s all open our minds, shall we? Bras off, bottoms up.

The God Box 2008 (Independent)

“Thank you for tonight’s theatre piece. Sometimes, considering what too often is put on stage, it is embarrassing for me to tell people I work in theatre. Tonight I was not embarrassed.”

— Grant Guy, Artistic Director of Adhere & Deny/Theatre for the Ears

“I have had your images behind my eyes since, that boy is a diamond, with his alienated body and transparent skin, and a mirror so he only can see gods sky. You have a striking scenic talent of visuality! It was an inspiring pleasure!”

— Lenemarie Olsen, Artistic Director of DerGeist Theatre

“Your success in presenting multiple Marguerites as a singular entity is beyond what I think most producers will ever touch… But, by far the most mesmerizing of all (which is a complete surprise to me, because I’m not usually visually affected) was the static remnant of the story which remained onstage after all the acting stopped. The stained wings and pillow on the floor, “Take Me” scrawled in chalk, and smoke rising from the God Box. I felt as though I was witness to a living postcard. A stamp left in time. An indelible mark which I could see, but which in most instances is conveyed only in the almost imperceptible and subtle gestures that people share between the lines of their daily lives.”

— Paul Stallion, Audience Review

On The Rise (Winnipeg Arts Council) Nomination, June 2007

“Mia van Leeuwen and Ian Mozdzen: for their boundless creativity, uncompromising integrity, and exemplary discipline in the creation of four original, visually stunning, emotionally complex, intellectually stimulating and boundary-breaking theatre productions”

— Nominated by Drek Daa, CBC Columnist, That Polish Guy

VVITCH (2007)

“In its first four titillating years of existence, out of line theatre has lived up to its name. Out of Line Theatre returns to the spotlight tonight with VVITCH, an original, mutli-disciplinary work that features a 3.5 metre-high crucifix, a witch burning, an antlered devil and plenty of sexual hanky-panky…”

— Kevin Prokosh, Winnipeg Free Press

sayonss 2007 (Young Lungs Presentation)

“A coven of black cloaked performers…hoo-ha-ha their way through a witchy ritualistic act that conjures 17th century spirits Anne and Brian Gunter…If the work was seeking to create a strong response, it was more then successful at doing that.”

— Holly Harris, Winnipeg Free Press

Jealous/Pervert 2006

“Any production that leaves you trying to decide if you’re really freaked out or kind of turned on is a good one…graphically violent and surprisingly beautiful account of destruction and perversion, but also of creation and vitality…It’s definitely not theatre for the squeamish.”

– Jen Zoratti, Uptown

“Like the tango motif that ran through the show, the performers tangoed with us: doling out attraction and repulsion in equal measures…All the elements of this production were imaginative, functional and gorgeous…Most of the audience seemed at ease with the transgressive quality of the work…out of line theatre is breaking daring new ground and doing so with courage and vitality…I believe out of line theatre is poised to become an artistically important company and richly deserves to be nurtured into maturity.”

— Canada Council for the Arts Assessment

PeepShow 2004 (Independent), 2005 & 2006 (National Fringe Festival Tours)

“PeepShow puts out…they do dare to get naked in a way that feels genuinely vulnerable – mostly because it’s also smart…this cabaret more or less works, and the underlying notion–that there’s a point beyond which erotic fantasy becomes narcissistic and lonely–is valuable. ”

— Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight, Vancouver Fringe 2006.

“Consider the players. Mia van Leeuwen and Ian Mozdzen are a couple of obviously subversive Winnipeg artists…Their particular oeuvre is avant-garde on stage sexuality, delivering bizarre and intense scenes that can be hard to watch…The material is eccentric, to say the least, but these two have it down tight. Their movements onstage are so meticulously choreographed you cannot turn your eyes away.”

– Richard Helm, The Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Fringe 2006

“Ian Mozdzen and Mia van Leeuwen re-define ‘erotic’ in this complex, creative show about sexual desire”

– Cam Fuller (The Star Phoenix), Saskatoon Fringe 2005

“With an astounding command of colour, form and rhythm, Mozdzen and van Leeuwen spin a web that grows more intriguing as the show progresses.”

– Jenny Henkelman, The Winnipeg Sun, 2005

“Hilarious, side-splitting…takes us on an exploration of our sexual endeavours or perhaps of ones that we never knew we had.”

– The Uniter, 2004

S&M 2004 (Winnipeg Fringe Festival)

“Scatological humour abounds in this edgy two-act drama aimed at kinky sex fans and feces fetishists. The Winnipeg theatre company has minded similarly bizarre material at past fringes. Here they revel in cross-dressing, sexual role playing and sado-masochistic fantasies, employing the language of depraved 19th century European aristocrats.”

— Morley Walker, The Winnipeg Free Press

“Of course, I only saw this play because a friend wanted to, because I was required to as a journalist, because I have an intellectual interest in the literary content, and not because I have any other interest in the matter. Of course such rationalization is one of the ways we avoid dealing with such taboo subjects and the company highlighted such an audience experience by having a large mirror upstage centre and keeping the house lights up in the first act so that the audience could always see themselves and each other. It was very full the night I saw it, and I couldn’t help but look around at the crowd and wonder about them, and if they were looking at me and wondering about me.”

— CBC Review

“More intellectual than it might otherwise appear, S&M is also filled with great acting performances from Glenn Hall and Mia van Leeuwen”

— Mike Warkentin, Uptown Magazine

life of a secret 2003 (Winnipeg Fringe Festival)


— Morley Walker, Winnipeg Free Press

“life of a secret was haunting and beautiful. The choreography, physicality, energy and stunning visuals together formed a powerful and disturbing story. I was moved to tears within the first few minutes…”

— Janine Le Gal, Audience Review

“I never know what to make of performance art.”

— CBC Review

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