A good story. Good storytelling.
These are the principle designs of The Freestanding Room, a space-cum-collective of artists and creators located shmack dab in the middle of the Main (on the 3rd floor at 4324 boulevard Saint-Laurent).
Members split the rent and get access to The Room for 20 hours a month. They can host events in The Room, and if they make profit, most of it goes to the collective. The one-out-one-in membership keeps the blood fresh and the numbers manageable. The members collaborate, work solo, or bring in their own crew to create and tell stories in the space.
It all sounds peachy, no? Well almost…
As many can attest, life on the Main ain’t always cheap. A triple XL municipal tax bill and escalating rents in general could eventually force the Freestanders out of their primo location. To avoid such an outcome, The Freestanding Room presents MAYDAYS!, a month of fundraising events every Friday. Wanna laugh? Wanna bid on things silently? Wanna see some sexy silly stuff? Drop by, drop a few bucks and let them drop some entertainment on you.
The cozy space is ideal for innovation and new material, which is what I saw when I attended the first MAYDAY event. MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU featured comedy sets from seasoned performers and open-mic first timers alike.
This shit is risky at the best of times, and while not every set was a winner, there was a very convivial, safe atmosphere for the performers on stage. There were a few standout performers, including the evening’s curator, Rena Hundert (as well as Miss Nutter – more on her later– who had fantastic presence), but one of the best lines of the night came from the crowd:
From the stage: “I’ve decided to work on my crowd banter…Someone heckle me.”
Voice in the dark: “You’re doing really well.”
Well played, sir. Well played.
Overall, given how much of the material was about fecal matter, it was still one of the nicest evenings imaginable.
The Main caught up with Johanna Nutter, president and (self-proclaimed) janitor of The Room, to find out a little more about her, the collective, and the city they call home.
Joanna Nutter, where did you grow up?
I grew up on the Main. Right across the street from Mainline Theatre, in a gigantic cockroach-infested loft next to the Schubert baths. That was the place we had the longest. I’ve also lived on Clark, St. Dominique, Jeanne Mance, St. Urbain, Park, Mont Royal, Coloniale, Laval, Debullion, Villeneuve, St. Viateur, Napoleon, Fabre, Marquette, and St. Denis.
Wow. The Main has just been out-Mained. Moving swiftly along, what are the benefits of the way the collective is run?
Because members aren’t always using The Room with the same intensity, they get satisfaction of knowing they’re helping out their fellow artists when they’re not using The Room. And if members get together to work on a project, they have more time in The Room. This way, people aren’t forced together, but they’re encouraged to get to know each other. It’s a support system that allows people to contribute to the creative community in
significant and innovative ways.
How long has The Room been Freestanding?
It’ll be four years in November.
Happy half birthday. It’s an odd little room. How do you feel the space is best utilized?
The Room is just that: a room. It’s not a real theatre. The productions that use The Room‘s constraints as creative opportunities rather than fighting against them, tend to be visited by the freestanding “magic” everyone talks about.
You’ve been in, around and on the Main, since you came out of the womb, seemingly. What revs your engine about Montreal?
I love everything about this city. All of it. Especially the people, who seem to have their priorities figured out: enough money for a room, a bicycle, and the occasional pint of beer. The rest is all about the fun we can have with each other.
Indeed it is. Finally, Miss Nutter, would you please indulge us with a few of your local favourite spots…
Brunch Spot: Beauty’s, still, after all these years. (93 av Mont-Royal O.)
Book Store: Welch’s (225 rue St-Viateur O.)
Park or Park-like Area: The mountain. It’s like a grandmother to me. I’ve played all over it all my life – still do.
Beverage (alcoholic or … not): St. Ambroise
‘Hood: Hmm…..The Main!!!!
Local Talent: The sketch comedy troupe Uncalled For, indie theatre companies like Scapegoat Carnivale and Les éternelles pigsties, Patrick Watson. And the Bob Dylan of Canada, Mack MacKenzie of 3 O’clock Train, who’s about to come out with a new album after almost 20 years– look out!
Perfection. Anything to add?
Happy summer, everyone!
If you wanna feel some of this freestanding magic you’ve been hearing so much about, drop by The Room any Friday night in May.
This week: micro-cabaret (https://www.facebook.com/events/339186136146813/), B-reels and bloopers next (https://www.facebook.com/events/219107971535903/), and a freestanding showcase to wrap the whole thing up (https://www.facebook.com/events/275483245877572/).
I don’t really know what any of those words means, but I know they mean a good time.
And if you wanna help but can’t attend, I bet they’d be super happy just to take your cash. Donate at http://www.freestandingroom.com/support.
Oh oh! There’s also a SILENT AUCTION (http://www.freestandingroom.com/maydays). Bid on stuff! Do it right now!
See you there, friends!