Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART is a compelling hybrid of history, memoir, and performance theory. It tells the story of the interdisciplinary performance group PME-ART and their ongoing endeavour to make a new kind of highly collaborative theatre dedicated to the fragile but essential act of “being yourself in a performance situation.”
Written, among other things, to celebrate PME-ART’s twentieth anniversary, the book begins when Jacob Wren meets Sylvie Lachance and Richard Ducharme, moves from Toronto to Montreal to make just one project, but instead ends up spending the next twenty years creating an eccentric, often bilingual, art. It is a book about being unable to learn French yet nonetheless remaining Co-Artistic Director of a French-speaking performance group, about the Spinal Tap-like adventures of being continuously on tour, about the rewards and difficulties of intensive collaborations, about making performances that break the mold and confronting the repercussions of doing so. A book that aims to change the rules for how interdisciplinary performance can be written about today.
When Jacob finished a first draft of the book he sent it to many of those who had co-created or worked on PME-ART projects asking for their comments. Therefore, the book also features contributions from: Caroline Dubois, Richard Ducharme, Claudia Fancello, Marie Claire Forté, Adam Kinner, Sylvie Lachance, Nadia Ross, Yves Sheriff, Kathrin Tiedemann and Ashlea Watkin.
Watch the Book Launch and Reading:
Praise for Authenticity Is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART:
“In Authenticity is a Feeling, Jacob Wren investigates the possibility of “being oneself in a performance situation” – including the performance of this beautiful, quiet, vulnerable book. In it, he recounts his utopian efforts at non-hierarchical collaboration over the last twenty years – not only with the members of his oddball, charming performance collective, PME-ART, but also with his spectators and readers. As he once told an audience: “we’re only going to be in the same room together for the next hour and a half and then we’ll probably never see each other again. But so many things seem impossible nowadays. And just because something’s impossible doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.” Curious reader, open the book and try spending some time with him. It may even make some things seem possible.” —Barbara Browning, author of The Gift
Praise for PME-ART:
“Part dance, part social critique, part heady fucking around. PME-ART interrogates the idea of the performance itself. But it never fails to be that performance, and a damn good one. God bless Canada.” —Brian Parks, The Village Voice
Press Coverage for Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART:
Jacob Wren: être soi-même sur scène —La Presse
“If I already held Wren in high esteem as a writer, artist, and person, this fascinating hybrid of memoir, archive, performance history and theory, and humorous storytelling reinforced that impression.” —Klara du Plessis, Montreal Review of Books
“Some will come to Jacob Wren’s Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART for a history of the group, but there is a much wider readership for this book about the kind of self-questioning inherent in art-making of the past 20 years.” —Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail
Jordan Tannahill’s favourite Canadian book of 2018: Sludge Utopia by Catherine Fatima —CBC Books
The Chat with Governor General’s Award Winner Jordan Tannahill —49th Shelf
Jacob Wren makes literature, performances and exhibitions. His books include: Unrehearsed Beauty, Families Are Formed Through Copulation, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, and Polyamorous Love Song (a finalist for the 2013 Fence Modern Prize in Prose and the 2015 ReLit Award for Fiction, and was named one of The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2014). His most recent novel Rich and Poor, was a finalist for the 2016 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. As Co-Artistic Director of Montreal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART he has co-created the performances En français comme en anglais, it’s easy to criticize, Individualism Was a Mistake, The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information and Every Song I’ve Ever Written. He travels internationally with alarming frequency and frequently writes about contemporary art. Connect with him on his blog (www.radicalcut.blogspot.com) or on Twitter @everySongIveEve.