Contre Harper Avec les Jeunes Patriotes!

Before the recent Canadian federal election, Stephen Harper visited Longueil, not far from Montreal, OTL and others were there to meet him, including Melanie Kal, who files this report

I, Melanie, performed in a jam for the first time in my life wearing an Official Man’s outfit.  needless to say – this included his face too! My costume was made with a cardboard version of Stephen Harper’s face,  on “older lady” grey wig and a suit & tie. As part of OTL, I made a public appearance to theatrically denounce Conservative Politics and Harpers impending cuts for arts funding.

Our presence was timely; Along with OTL, (the real) Harper was in Longueil that afternoon, giving a speech at the Sandman hotel to boost his position in the coming Elections. Harper himself would have been proud and shocked at the delicatesse of his costumed characterization. I was personally hoping to shake the ol’man’s hand, if he decided to come out of the police-caded hotel parking lot with his personal security vehicles, to remind him of his subconscious – if he has any! Imagine the media shots of that one! “Harper has humor – shakes hand with his critical twin!”

The Dramatic line of our performance was very simple- Harper (me) was simply actively abusing, mocking the artists, who were also OTL crew. We joined les Jeunes patriotes – the Young Quebec Patriots- also protesting Harper’s presence that day at the hotel. Being mostly a crew of anglophones and allophones, some of us were reluctant at to join them at first. We quickly warmed up to their immediate friendliness, perhaps both of us recognizing that in a parallel struggle, solidarity is sweeter than difference. As i said, hey gave me warm welcome – well at least after they Booed me in (my character) . The “starving-artists” jumped through the crowd creating gentle debauchery and mocking  Harper’s insistence on chasing them around and “oppressing them” with his cuts. He was being quite the dictator! I took a few media shots holding Hamlet’s skull, giving the finger (flipping off) the media, young patriots and the cameras.

Costumed Harper also got his fun from kicking and breaking the artist’s canvasses, chasing them with red paint. Basically i tried embodying the Harper-ego, most apparent to those affected by his cuts and such.

The media were very friendly with us – and with me- asking me to “explain myself” in Character! “Monsieur Harper! Que pensez-vous de ces artistes?” Woa Woa! i didn’t practice my Calgarian French enough to pull that one off!

We also met a bunch of artists also protesting there called “SALA” – Spoiled Artists Liberation Army – who were supportive and OTL made a few contacts while also performing a few  chants for the cameras.

As usual, the jam did not go as planned- people didn’t show up and my wig kept falling off! We were supposed to portray a cigar-smoking Stephen grabbing cash from the donation box amidst a circle of starving working artists. I even intended to take a bite out of their lunch, a carefully prepared margarine sandwhich.  Alas, we had to limit ourselves to a mere 3 person crew, of which 2 artists were simply ‘running away’ from the abusive PM.

It was all very lovely. I even got to dress as a Man of State! My long hair flowing out of the mask, I wondered how many people even got the critical gender intonation of our piece. We, incidentally also included a line about the Konservatives’ attack on women’s reproductive rights; how timely and odd in this context! But OTL is certainly known for it’s mastery of awkward excess.

Leave a Reply