Trampoline Hall,

Monday 26 April 2004, at Rockit
120 Church Street Toronto

9 May 2004

I might as well be up front and saw Trampoline Hall (to be written TH in what follows) gets 10 stars, for what are obviously a variety of reasons, but for the purpose of this review I’ll try to cover the basics, or why I at least enjoyed it. As I type this, I’m remembering checking out some of the press they’d archived on their website and I think, ‘they don’t need another glowing review; there’s no need to add to that list with things said or thought before’. But then again, the articles featured therein don’t really review the shows. It’s more about what you missed.

The reviewer tries to turn their experience into a story, and provide photographs for the How-the- People-of-the-Future-Will-Think-We-Looked collection. So this can’t be that type of review…no photos for one, and for another, no point in rubbing your noses is what you missed. You’ve missed many conversations between millions of people, and that never seems to matter, but if you need to know something from such a talk, you get a synopsis, or a accurate retelling, or an expanded book. You missed the conversations Benjamin had with Adorno but you’ve probably got the ultimate result of that sitting unread on a shelf somewhere.

I go on like this since TH had the aspect of a really good conversation. One of the first reviews I ever wrote for the Saturday Edition was about a really awful roundtable talk I saw at Harbourfront Centre featuring uninspired and washed up has-beens. It didn’t make it to screen, which is probably a good thing. Now, the worst part about that talk, which I use as a measure of awfulness in spite of the fact that I’ve since seen worse, is the way the audience is locked out of the ideas being presented, and we get rambling speculation, as opposed to consideration. Really, TV, for all it’s evils, is better than this because at least there’s a script in there somewhere, some evidence of thought however puerile. In such a scenario, one can’t help but feel that the audience is actually more intelligent than the panelists, who are only on stage because of past accomplishments which are now obscure. In the case of Trampoline Hall, there was no sense of that. Perhaps because we were all approximately the same age, one really had the feeling that intellectually it was a level playing field, and our accomplishments so far in life mean that there was no need to look up or down at anyone, beyond the physical aspect of the speakers being on a stage. So let me polish that metaphor a bit more to say, the distance one looked up at them, (or down, if one was in the balconies) was not great and was inconsequential.

I liked the location, the upstairs of the Rockit bar, with its balconies (which lived up to hosts Misha Glouberman’s envisioning of the proper TH venue), beer, plastic cups, chairs, tables and cigarettes. I’m not going to use the word community beyond this sentence, a word being both tired and uninspired, to talk about how nice it is to hang out with strangers for a show in a smoky cub to listen to three people’s ideas on things you would not think to talk about otherwise. I’ve come to think that the point of all education and performing in the world, the art shows, the paychecks, the trips to the library and the bathroom, the links to good reads and torture photos on the net, is all so that we can have mutually interesting conversations over bummed cigarettes and a pint. Following the natural process, food for thought becomes shooting the shit. We get to affirm our mutual interest in each other through a common language.

And TH is all about sharing an interesting conversation in such a context with an audience. Instead of listening to some Guinness philosopher’s pet theories at the bar, we instead put them on a stage , and offer them the time to present this idea. And for me this is ultimately what made Trampoline Hall an enjoyable night: that respect was shown to both the audience and the presenters, by giving each time. No interruptions, a question period, and a bathroom break. No squirming and bored panelists there because it’ll look good on the CV. The speakers seem generally invested in presenting their thoughts, and by virtue of being there, the audience is willing to listen.

Oh, and this is what you missed: Tyler Clark Burke, spoke about her grandfather who was a New York supreme court justice; the next speaker was Julian Holland, who spoke of slanted suicide statistics and the capitalistic inhumanity present in their bias, and the last speaker consisted of Lee Henderson, who spoke of freeloading: how to do it and what to avoid. This last talk inspired the most laughter.

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Rating: 10/10

Instant Coffee Saturday Edition

  1. May 2004: Appeared in Instant Coffee Saturday Edition Issue No° 21
  2. 2002-2015 Archived on my websites & blog
  3. Sept 2015: this version produced