Mia van Leeuwen is a performer, creator, director, writer, educator and overall experimenter who uses performance to explore wide-ranging themes such as identity, sexuality, consumerism, dystopian societies, popular culture, and religion. She is an artist who blurs the lines between theatre and visual art, that explores storytelling through collage techniques and multi-genres, that delves into subject material with vigor and imagination, and is deeply committed to contributing and diversifying the cultural landscape of the prairies, Canada and beyond.
Concurrent with her role as co-artistic director of out of line theatre, she engages in independent creation work, ongoing training, teaching, and collaborations with various other artists and companies.
Recent happenings include the completion of an MFA at the University of Alberta (Thesis: Destroy She Said -Collage as Performance Paradise, 2014), a European tour of her solo-performance White Bread (2014), the creation/destruction of Destroy She Said produced by Young Lungs Dance Exchange (2015), and conceiving/directing the object theatre adaptation of Roswitha’s 10th century script Sapientia (Canoe Festival, Edmonton 2014 and independent production in Winnipeg, October 2015). In April 2017, Mia will be heading to Montreal to join forces with Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre as a guest director on a future incarnation of Sapientia (http://www.scapegoatcarnivaletheatre.com).
Sapientia: an object theatre rendering
of the 10th century script Sapientia by Roswitha
featuring: Chris Sabel, Alison Vargo, Brenda McLean and Christopher Sobczak
Studio 320, Winnipeg 2015
with support from the Manitoba Arts Council
“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
Photos by Leif Norman
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.”
“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
(Collage by Sylvia Grist based on live performance of Destroy She Said.)
Sapientia : an object theatre rendering
(a workshop presentation)
of the 10th century script Sapientia by Roswitha.
Presented at the 2014 Canoe Festival in Edmonton.
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)
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).
Featuring Carolyn Gray, Coral Maloney and Mia van Leeuwen
Mia joined forces with cultural engineer Michael Dudeck http://www.michaeldudeck.com 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.
Photos by Leif Norman
See TRAILER of Guernica here: https://vimeo.com/9675264
CBC REVIEW by: Mike O’Brien
“Some folks will hate this. It’s dark, challenging and potentially offensive. It’s also everything fringe theatre should be: daring, unapologetic and artful. This is definitely not for children or anyone seeking more straightforward storytelling. If you’re cool with a limbo contest performed with a freshly severed umbilical cord, you can handle it. The setting is pre-historic, or post-apocalyptic, or perhaps not even of this earth. Two women and a man emerge from scabrous eggs, blind and senseless. They discover themselves, each other, and their own voracious appetites for food, sex, ritual and destruction. In other words, they pretty much trace humankind’s rise from the ashes, and its imminent return there. There’s no dialogue, other than exclamatory shrieks and moans. There is much dance, conflict and imaginative staging, including gas masks and mannequin limbs. The troupe calls it “illustrative physical theatre” and that fits. Brenda McLean, Mia Star van Leeuwen and Delf Gravert are superb. The work that went into the faultless choreography is evidenced by the bruises that are plainly visible on the performers’ bodies. The bruises are ugly and real. Like Guernica.”
Mia has appeared as various façades in Guy Maddin films: Fancy Fancy Being Rich (2002), My Winnipeg (2007), Glorious (2008), and Keyhole(2010).
(photos by Mandy Malazdrewich)
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