Musings on the Three Cornered Hat

Musings on the Three Cornered Hat

THE THREE CORNERED HAT is a new evening-length quintet created by Jennifer Mascall with dancers Darcy McMurray, Chris Wright, Billy Marchenski, Amber Funk Barton and Lara Barclay, presented by MascallDance in association with Dancing On the Edge.




Wednesday July 9, Thursday July 10, and Friday July 11, 2014                                       CHAPEL ARTS CENTRE                                                                                                              304 Dunlevy @ Cordova (1 block east of the Firehall Theatre)

TICKETS:  or via 604 689 0926.

Well-known film editor Chris Aikenhead has been watching Jennifer Mascall’s work and writing responses to it since 1989.  On recently viewing The Three Cornered Hat he sent the following:

First, it’s not about a hat. Corners, maybe – but many more than three. Like the intersections where line meets space, in meets out, and still meets moving. Or the moonlit junction of the familiar and the strange…

As always, the Mascallian choreography keeps teasing, opening doors into rarely-visited rooms in an attic where the mind is sparked yet never allowed to make sense of what it finds. Early on, spoken words and projected images lure us onto a suspension bridge of taut coherence: Here is a town, there is a character, this is a story… But just as my Sherlock starts collecting and connecting clues, the stretched ropes give way and I’m floating feather-like in the updraft of a dancer’s pirouette.

OK, maybe there is a town… But if so, it’s populated by double-bodied dinosaurs caught up in murderous mating rituals – writhing on a tightrope between orgiastic embrace and mutual annihilation. Creatures rise up from murky swamps in the reptilian brain and climb all over each other – Komodo dragons escaping from pits of steaming slime. Suddenly they morph into cosmic plasmazoids, zooting each other with percussive taser jolts shot from chests and necks. Boom! Zap! But just when the action seems locked in interstellar battle, background figures start working with coil-bound notebooks…


The red books offer blank pages… unlined moments of repose… bald stepping stones on which there’s balance above the coursing current. Opened, the books shed soft light from hinged red wings. Piled up, they become seats. Stacked like playing cards, they form protective walls – until shattered by the cannonball of a bewildered dancer. And yes, the books are hats, but when balanced on heads they tame motion, like bridling a thoroughbred.

Suddenly, journals are shooting across the floor like red laser beams, firing past bare feet – Dance, podner! – carving lines and making a lone dancer heed their searing trip wires. And it’s coiled black wire that snakes through dark holes in the white pages – spiraling threads that cluster sketched-out content, binding it between bright covers.

Sometimes a notebook or a soft monologue is offered to someone in the audience, and the rope bridge is suspended over the chasm to the outside again. But the books belong to inner space, linking dancer to dancer and reflections to self. At times, a book is reeled in from the unknown on transparent lines like a luminous coelacanth. Other lines are red paper tape, echoing the flight path of notebooks rocketing across the floor, defining and re-mapping the space of movement.


Finally, an outsider is invited in, told there’s a safe place balanced on a red book. And amid the whirling jazz of flailing limbs and intertwining bodies, the red magic carpet rectangle carries the trusting observer along in careful baby steps. Around her, the tape lines slowly find an order and form a pentagram – three-cornered hats aligning into a perfect star, shining with the perfection of married angles and stilled motion, while the outsider slips safely back into her own domain, just in time for the lights to dim…