Suitcase in Point is a local ensemble of artists in the Niagara region who put together many events and shows throughout the year. This coming year is their 15th season and in celebration of the awkwardness of being a teenageer they threw on their most recent show, Cabaret Angst.
Cabaret Angst took place on September 18 at the Merchant Ale House, the same location where Suitcase in Point held their very first cabaret. On top of putting together these cabarets Suitcase in Point is responsible for many dramatic arts workshops in the region such as the Comedy Improvisation Workshop with Sam Khalilieh taking place during Culture Days on October 1 and In the Soil Arts Festival, an annual festival of the arts featuring musicians, dramatic art productions, exhibits and other art shows.
The show itself was wonderful; the cheeky satire toyed with society’s notions of what it means to be a teen and the parent of a teen. The show also remarked on and referenced the history of the past decade and a half with sharp jibes and political quips.
The skits often satirized social justice and millennials, especially in the skit “#SocialMediaJustice.” The crowd was roaring with laughter as scene after scene of absurdity and insanity moved across the stage. The skill of the actors was unbelievably fantastic and their ability to express their characters, sometimes with just their eyes alone, is proof of that skill.
I got the opportunity to talk with Deanna Jones, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point, about the ensemble’s 15 years in action, Cabaret Angst and Niagara itself.
When Suitcase in Point first started putting on these cabarets 15 year ago, they used them as a platform to explore new materials. Deanna elaborates that in the beginning they were more true to the “cabernet format with music, monologues, snippets from plays that [they were] working on and just a way to encourage the creative juices of the ensemble within the company and start to get a feel for what our collaborative voice was in creation. We also worked with a lot of guest artists, having guests come in doing a music set, or we’d have guests performing a show up on the bar and coming in through the windows: it was sort of a real free-for-all.”
I asked Deanna about why she felt that satire was important and she told me that it’s “a great way to put a mirror to our community, on our the society,” and on current events.”
Before Suitcase in Point, most of it’s crew were Brock students and Deanna told me that they “made a decision to stay and create work in Niagara” and as they became “leading professionals in the arts in this community,” they were part of a transformation making St. Catharines “a place to be out[side] of the major city centres like Toronto” while still being able to “contribute our voice to the [nation].” As Deanna put it, staying in Niagara and becoming such an integral part of the arts and culture scene is “celebrating where we are, who we are, and where we come from.”
Deanna said that the current state of Niagara’s art scene is “really exciting. It’s really amazing to see how it’s evolved over the last 15 years, since we’ve been going here and there’s so many amazing groups that have been popping up, and … In the Soil Arts Festival[‘s]” growth is really a testament to this.
Enthusiastically, Deanna also notes that they’ve “had a lot of support from the city of St. Catharines with their Cultural Investment Program, it’s really exciting to see that more funds have gone into that and there’s more opportunities for people to continue to do that here, and hopefully it just continues to grow”
Deanna says that they’re “really proud to be here in St. Catharines” and that they’re really excited to be launching their 15th season and will be “able to bring laughs, and to bring really good quality comedy” to the area. “This has been such a great platform for us to grow as artists and to bring the Niagara region voice around with us when we travel around” she concluded.