A selection of Ben's most recent creation work: Improvisation, Devised Theatre, and Burlesque.
For a complete artist CV/Resume please download here.
Folk Lordz is the creative team and performance duo that Ben created with Todd Houseman while they were both senior players at Rapid Fire Theatre. The flagship live show consists of a fusion of folk storytelling, long-form improvisation and physical comedy. Taking inspiration from Indigenous oral tradition and storytelling practice, Russian Chekhovian character drama, and a third genre of the audience's choosing, Folk Lordz craft a spontaneous and hilarious homage to cultural storytelling practice. This work has won them two cultural diversity in the arts awards from the Edmonton Arts Council, and the show has toured internationally to Philadelphia's DuoFest, Atlanta's High Wire Comedy Fest, Austin's Improvised Play Festival, Vancouver's Chutzpah! Festival, Toronto's Bad Dog Theatre Combustion Festival, Vancouver International Improv Festival, Edmonton's LitFest, Edmonton's Thousand Faces Festival of Mythic Art, and the Toronto, Edmonton and Winnipeg Fringe Festivals, and headlined numerous CHiMPROV shows at Rapid Fire Theatre.
As part of the further development of this project they travelled to Yellowknife, NWT to learn traditional oral storytelling practice, protocol and structure from Dene elders. This research trip was supported by the Edmonton Arts Council through the Cultural Diversity in the Arts program. The motivation for this work was further de-colonizing of their performances, broadening their scope from just Cree stories to other Indigenous traditions, and traveling to less urban places and engaging in activities that many stories are about (fishing, trapping, being on the land, enduring cold, etc). Alt.Theatre journal commissioned Folk Lordz to write an article about their experiences on this journey, which was published internationally in the 'Storytelling Across Generations' issue, January 2016.
Mooney on Theatre reviewed the live show, saying:
“Everything about Folk Lordz is pleasing — and I do mean everything. If you pass up this hilarious and hyperkinetic tribute to lore and literature, you’re missing one of the most interesting, compelling and viscerally thrilling pieces of theatre you’ll see this season.”.
In addition to live performance, Folk Lordz is also a producing body. They created Stories on the Hills, a three-day, Indigenous storytelling gathering that profiled a series of multi-disciplinary performances from diverse artists and celebrated Edmonton/Amiskwaciy Waskahegen's history as a gathering place. The festival presented 31 artists, including a youth and emerging talent night, and a community-engaged workshop for inner city youth. The gathering was made possible through the partnership with Fort Edmonton Park and the support from the Edmonton Community Foundation and The Edmonton Arts Council.
The most recent Folk Lordz project is a 15-part digital video sketch series, created as part of the Canada Council for the Arts' New Chapter program. These political, absurd, and darkly hilarious video sketches were written to reflect urban-Indigenous, immigrant, and activist perspectives through the lens of satirical sketch comedy. The series was directed by Mike Robertson, and will be released digitally in Spring 2018.
Charred is a documentary, dance-theatre performance, created and performed by Ben Gorodetsky and Mat Simpson. Using Mat Simpson's vivid photographs of neighbourhoods and forests affected by the Fort McMurray, Alberta wildfires of 2016. This multimedia work investigates the questions: How did the fire change the land? And whose story is that to tell?
This is a performance that speaks to ownership (of tragedy/industry/wealth), regional identity, and the politics of making work about a climate disaster in the conservative, northern Canadian Oil Sands. Set against a mounting list of global climate disasters, this experimental work combines movement, storytelling, projections, and improvisation in the form of an abstracted travelogue.
Charred was developed in Fort McMurray in December 2016 and Edmonton in January 2017 with the generous support of the Edmonton Arts Council. The premiere performance was at NextFest 2017, with a sold-out run in a transformed office in the Roxy on Gateway. Dancer/Choreographer/Professor Lin Snelling had this to say about Charred:
"An enticing dance/theatre story told through the lens of this quick witted and physically apt dynamic duo; it captures the raw beauty and confusion of a community dealing with “outsider” questions. Gorodetsky and Simpson are both eloquent and playful and it's a relief to see a performance that dares to experiment with how a story can be told."
This project would not have been possible without the support of creative collaborators Gerry Morita, Heather Inglis, Matt Schuurman, Caitlin Richards and Jenna Turner (aka The Olm), Julie Ferguson, and Kiidra Duhault.
Ding-Dong Daddy - Burlesque Alter-Ego
Ben's most saucy creation is his alter-ego Ding-Dong Daddy, a boisterous and hilarious burlesque character. Combining sensual dance, acrobatics, fabulous costumes, and collaged audio, Ding-Dong's performances are at once sexy, comedic, and shocking! Ding-Dong Daddy has brought his spicy act to clubs all over NYC, including the Slipper Room, Bizarre Bar, Muchmores, and recently had the honour of dancing in Taylor Mac's 24 Decades of Popular Music (Abridged) at the Wellmont Theatre.