An experimenter. A collaborator. A bouncer of ideas. I use the body of performance to explore themes such as identity, anxiety, sexuality, religion, fandom, altered states, dystopia and various aspects of popular culture. Blurring the lines between theatre and visual art, I explore narrative through collage techniques and multi-genres, and delve into subject material with vigour & imagination. I am inspired to disturb, to make strange, to question, to laugh, to sculpt space, to D.I.Y. I am also obsessed with objects …
Research Interests: creative movement, viewpoints, devised theatre, lip-sync, postdramatic theatre, performance art, performance anxiety, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, ritual, wunderkammers, altars, Madonna, collage, object theatre, pochinko clown, and free association (streaming) approaches to movement-improvisation and the generation of performative text.
In the late summer of 2017, I moved to the desert-coulee-scape of Southern Alberta where I have begun a tenure track Assistant Professor position in the Fine Arts Faculty @ the University of Lethbridge.
RECENT + ONGOING + PAST PROJECTS:
In June 2017, Mia directed a museum-tour-skewer @ The Dalnavert Museum, the former home to Sir John A. McDonald’s son — Hugh John McDonald, located in Winnipeg, MB.
Postcolonial Postcards — part museum tour, part performance, part object theatre, part installation, all parlous with dashes of disrupts and subverts. Audiences travelled the exotically Victorian and delicate rooms for a short, snapshot-like ‘postcard’ scene, overturning their expectations of the local environment and complicating the colonial narrative before moving onto the next room.
With performances by rascals Ming Hon, Frances Koncan, Kevin Klassen, Jeanne Randolph, and Charlene Van Buekenhout. Lighting and Installation by Jaymez. Sound Design by Davis Plett. Photography by Leif Norman.
With support from the Dalnavert Museum + The Winnipeg Foundation
Postcolonial Postcards was devised within a Canadian-Victorian museum setting wherein the housed objects already rest ripe with meaning. The artists confronted the caged artifacts through a variety of improvisation techniques combined with a mash-up of their own identity (and their own/other objects) as a basis for the generation of material. From Métis, Anishinaabe, Chinese, Mennonite, Settler, Immigrant, to dancer, actor, performer, writer, videographer and psychiatrist …the project took off from here, developing its own sense of logic-legs and landing in ways only possible with the presence of Frances, Kevin, Ming, Jaymez, Charlene and Jeanne.
SAPIENTIA (phase III)
Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre
In May of 2017, Mia spent time with Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre in Montreal, QB, directing/workshopping a re-imagining of the 10th century script SAPIENTIA by canoness Roswitha.
Martyrdom. Torture. Miracles.
The bounds of FAITH.
A moka pot, a flashlight, a mirror and three teacups.
Objects + Performers come together to render this object theatre adaptation of the 10th century dramatic text SAPIENTIA by ROSWITHA of GANDERSHEIM.
Watch our video preview of SAPIENTIA: https://vimeo.com/225737005
Stay tuned for a future 2018 Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre production of SAPIENTIA in Montreal.
Roswitha or Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim was a 10th-century German secular canoness, dramatist and poet who lived at Gandersheim Abbey, established by the Ottonian dynasty. She wrote in Latin, and is considered by some to be the first person since antiquity to compose drama in the Latin West. She has been called “the most remarkable woman of her time.”
SAPIENTIA (phase II)
aztec theatre + Theatre Incarnate
In 2015, Mia directed a second phase of the object theatre adaptation of Roswitha’s Sapientia, co-produced by van Leeuwen, aztec theatre and Theatre Incarnate + featuring Chris Sabel, Alison Vargo, Brenda McLean and Christopher Sobczak with support from the Manitoba Arts Council.
Production Photos by Leif Norman, Poster Design Ian Mozdzen + Mia van Leeuwen
“This beautiful and innovative production is gorgeous and deeply provocative. Mia’s staging using object theatre is brilliant, allowing one to take in this complex 10th century text with the kind of distance that transcends time, allowing one to think through the profound implications.” — Praba Pilar, Scholar and Performance Artist
“Destroy She Said“
A performance collage inspired by Caryl Churchill’s play The Skriker (1994)
Created and Directed by Mia van Leeuwen
Produced by Young Lungs Dance Exchange at The Gas Station Theatre, September 2015
Featuring Natasha Torres-Garner, Ming Hon and Tanja Woloshen
Artistic Consultant Praba Pilar. Lighting by Steve Hunnie. Photographs by Lise McMillan.
“Have you noticed the large number of meteorological phenomena lately? Earthquakes. Volcanoes. Drought. Apocalyptic meteorological phenomena. The increase of sickness. It was always possible to think, whatever your personal problem, there’s always nature. Spring will return even if it’s without me. Nobody loves me but at least it’s a sunny day. This has been a comfort to people as long as they’ve existed. But it’s not available anymore. Sorry. Nobody loves me and the sun’s going to kill me. Spring will return and nothing will grow. Some people might feel concerned about that. But it makes me feel important. I’m going to be around when the world as we know it ends. I’m going to witness unprecedented catastrophe. I like a pileup on the motorway. I like the kind of war we’ve been having lately. I like snuff movies. But this is going to be the big one.” — Caryl Churchill, The Skriker
View Destroy She Said Trailer: https://vimeo.com/205826818
View Destroy She Said Excerpt “Fruit Loops”: https://vimeo.com/205980366
created and performed by Mia van Leeuwen
dramaturgy and co-direction Piet Defraeye
a performance collage that explores celebrity, addiction, and the social history of white bread; a biting satire on the decay of the American Dream, reflected in the aging body and waning star power of the pop-icon Madonna.
The work references a collage of sources including Jean Genet’s The Maids, Don DeLillo’s dystopian novel Cosmopolis, lyrics from songs by Madonna and Aaron Bobrow-Strain’s White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf; as well as original text by Mia van Leeuwen. Combining postdramatic approaches to theatre along with principles of Pochinko clown and neo-buffon, and experimenting with audience-performer relationships, White Bread employs a playful, provocative, and interactive performance style.
White Bread toured Europe in June 2014 (Antwerp, Munich, Innsbruck, Belgrade) and Edmonton’s Stagelab Festival (2016).
White Bread (preview): “Innovation & Experimentation in theatre at Stagelab Festival 2016”: https://afterthehouselights.com/2016/08/25/innovation-experimentation-in-theatre-at-stagelab-2016/
Photos by Mat Simpson + John Battye
Tiny white pills. An island surrounded by sharks. A maid named ABBIE COXIN.
“White Bread is an engaging performance unlike any other that I have seen in Western Canada. A cutting critique of pop culture performed in a unique aesthetic.” – Kristine Nutting (Director & Playwright, Edmonton)
“…astonishing, visually punctuated theatre that arrests assumptions about fame…Mia’s prowess at storytelling allows audiences to break traditional boundaries of performance with glee….I will be forever haunted by van Leeuwen’s image of decrepit Madonna – in the same league as Brazil’s plastic surgery ladies.” – Gerry Morita (AD Mile Zero Dance Co., Edmonton)
“Destroy She Said”
(phase 1 / research-creation)
Mile Zero Dance Artistic Residency, Edmonton, February 2013.
Directed and Created by Mia van Leeuwen.
Performers: Patricia Allison, Georgia Irwin and Jeannie Vandekerkhove
Photos by Mia van Leeuwen, Raquel Fanjul and Daniela Masellis
SAPIENTIA (phase I)
Canoe Festival / workshop presentation
Directed by Mia van Leeuwen
Featuring: David Barnett, Nancy McAlear, Brendan Nearey and Kara Chamberlain
Dramaturgy by Stefano Muneroni
Script Adaptation: Joseph Shragge & Mia van Leeuwen
“Sapientia, presented at Workshop West’s Canoe Theatre Festival was one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had in a theatre as of late. An adaptation of a 10th century dramatic work by Roswitha of Gandersheim, Director and Designer Mia van Leeuwen has used the form of object theatre to cast a different light on a work that is over 1000 years old.”
To read more from the review “Object Theatre Form in Sapientia Creates Layers of Meaning” view link here: https://afterthehouselights.com/2014/01/22/object-theatre-form-in-sapientia-creates-layers-of-meaning/
“There is nothing predictable, and everything original, about the conjunction of talents and theatrical inspirations that led to the show that launches the 2014 edition of the Canoe Festival tonight.”
Read more about Sapientia preview by Liz Nichols, Edmonton Journal:
(Photographs by John Battye)
ADHERE & DENY
Mia performed objects with Grant Guy’s avant-garde object/puppet theatre company Adhere & Deny in Paradise Lost (2009), Still Walking (2010) and The BedBug (2011).
an adaptation (by Grant Guy) of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s play (1929)
Featuring Carolyn Gray, Coral Maloney and Mia van Leeuwen
Mia joined forces as a performer with cultural engineer Michael Dudeck in WOMBTOMB 2011 (New York) and AMYGDALA 2011 (Winnipeg).
Mia collaborated on the wordless physical theatre work Guernica (2008) with Theatre Incarnate.
For the Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2008, Theatre Incarnate presents a unique and darkly absurd theatrical experience of cyclical violence. From an original scenario created by Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston, Guernica combines her “Illustrative Performing Technique” with influences from Picasso’s nightmare impressionistic painting (of the same title). For their 12th production to date, Theatre Incarnate has assembled a collective creation between Director/Performer Brenda McLean and local performers Delf Gravert and Mia van Leeuwen.
See TRAILER of Guernica here: https://vimeo.com/9675264
(pix by Ryszard Hunka + Leif Norman)
(pix by Mandy Malazdrewich)
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