Ingrid Hansen and Stéphanie Morin-Robert come from different performance traditions, so they created their own.
Hansen, a puppeteer and actress who co-founded Victoria’s SNAFU Dance Theatre, and Morin-Robert, whose background in dance and comedy, had crossed paths on different performing arts circuits, but it wasn’t until last year that the duo decided to collaborate for the first time.
The result of that joint venture is The Merkin Sisters, a multidisciplinary performance which combines dance, comedy and puppetry and tells the story of two fallen socialites who set out to create their magnum opus. The show comes to the Port Theatre on Monday, Dec. 18.
Morin-Robert calls it a “really wacky, crazy, cabaret act,” while Hansen describes it as “an exploration and a celebration of everything that’s gorgeous and gross and amazing and embarrassing about our bodies.” She said despite their different backgrounds, “our powers combined” to create something new.
“Stéphanie and I both have seen each other’s work before but we’ve never worked together before creating this piece and we both really admired what each other did,” she said.
“We also really wanted to challenge ourselves to create something that brought in brand new things that we’ve never worked with before.”
“We were both really inspired by each other’s work. Our work was really different from each other so there’s something there that we were both curious about from kind of diving into each others worlds and learning from each other,” Morin-Robert added.
“So we were like, ‘Hey, let’s do a thing.’”
The two of them retreated to a studio to begin their project and emerged with an eight-minute prototype for The Merkin Sisters. After an encouraging reception from audiences, Hansen and Morin-Robert did a month-long artist residency in Bellingham, Wash. where they developed the show into a full hour production.
“We had just the most incredible time,” Hansen said.
“We toured it across seven cities last summer, sold out houses and rave reviews and we just felt like rock stars.”
At the beginning of the tour Morin-Robert learned she was pregnant, and while that did affect her performance, she said it was “in the most wonderfully hilarious way possible.” She said her pregnancy has almost become a part of the show.
“For the whole tour I was dealing with [pregnancy], which was very hilarious and ironic because our whole show is about being a woman, about motherhood, about birth, so it’s really nice to have that happen,” she said.
“So I’ll actually be performing the show seven months pregnant when we go to Nanaimo, which I think will contribute to the wonderful humour of what we’re trying to do and the message we’re communicating.”
WHAT’S ON … The Port Theatre’s OFFstage Lobby Theatre Series presents The Merkin Sisters on Monday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults, $22 for members, $1.50 for youth and students, $5 for high school eyeGO tickets, $86 for a group of four.