As an immigrant, I want to experience everything in Ottawa, particularly this year as the line-up of events the City had prepared is just spectacular and unique. I have dined 150 meters in the sky and I've had a glimpse of the future from the underground (watch out for the next article). This time I decided to stay grounded to spend the weekend with a giant spider and a dragon-horse! WHAT? Meet Long Ma, a 42 ton fire breathing dragon-horse and Kumo, a 20 meter long mechanical spider. Confused? Let me help you visualize:
As part of Canada 150 celebrations, Ottawa brings us La Machine. Making its debut in North America, La Machine is a street theatre company that transforms public spaces to a theatre, and the street theatre I witnessed involves a monstrous act at the National Gallery. I must say, wow! Another unique, unforgettable experience! And it is even sweeter for me as I did not plan to go (I was concerned about the crowds). But the weather was perfect and I can't afford to be indoors.
I can see the crowd built up from far away but surprisingly, everyone was relaxed and cheerful. Perhaps the weather helped a lot; it was sunny but not humid, more of a fresh breeze. I first saw Kumo “sleeping” beside his new Canadian friend Maman. It was the perfect location, spiders are always creepy but seeing these two sleeping giants side by side is almost cute. Then, I heard a loud heavy breathing coupled with some sort of background music. I also noticed the crowd moving. My heart jumped a little as I felt an ounce of excitement till I saw Long Ma! That ounce is now a ton, a 42 ton fire breathing dragon horse! Again, it looked a little scary for a second but as it started walking and eating the trees, it turned cute and gentle-looking like a giraffe! The crowd was mesmerized and the kids enjoyed it all.
As Long Ma gets closer to Kumo, I learned that this is Act One of the show and Act Two will resume at 2pm. In the mean time I headed out to Earl of Sussex to grab a lunch. Excellent location: seated at a corner patio, had a scrumptious tandoori salmon sandwich and a glass of wine while I people watched. Time check, still have some time before Act Two, just enough time to have a short visit at the National Gallery.
2pm is here and time to see Act Two. This is when Long Ma encounters with Kumo. The story goes that Kumo burned Long Ma's wings and stole his temple while asleep. Long Ma, fully awaken, searches around Ottawa to gain his temple back. I managed to take a video of this encounter despite the crowd:
Act Three continued at 8pm whereby a much anticipated crowd were waiting for hours including myself to witness for another magnificent act. Having watched the duel in the afternoon, I'm really excited to see it in the evening! I can just imagine it delivered with light effects. As expected, the street was packed and this time but, unfortunately, I didn't get a good view. I can only see Kumo slightly. However, I saw the “operators” gracefully craned down to the sleeping spider to get him moving. Everyone started cheering and clapping. The anticipation is building up as Kumo stretches its long legs and prepares a face to face with Long Ma.
We can see in the big screen that Long Ma is approaching so Kumo walked towards him and poof, Kumo was gone. Literally gone! Huh? The battle took place behind the trees of the Supreme Court of Canada and the only way to see it was through the big screen. There is obviously a miscalculation in the logistic that left the audience disappointed. I waited a little longer hoping to have a glimpse but then I noticed people are already marching out. I didn't want to get caught in the crowd so I started walking out as well and I just can hear and feel the disappointment.
Oh well there's nothing much I can really do about it. The overwhelming crowds it only a testament to the supreme quality of their entertainment! Overall, I had fun but just like in the theaters, a grand finale would have been a wonderful ending.