When you walk into the main hall of the Rialto Theatre over the next couple of days, with it's enchanting decor, the transformation is meant to get you ready for a new discovery of original art at every turn.
What usually serves as a concert hall now looks like an art gallery.
It's all for the first-ever edition of Archipelago, where 30 Montreal-based artists from a variety of disciplines are brought together under one roof to collaborate and play.
"Science tells us that play is very important. So as artists — we're really fortunate — because everything we do lends to that," explained director and founder of the four-day festival, Cristina Cugliandro.
"But we also get swept away from the play. This is really, really playful. It's got a bunch of different things."
Cugliandro represents the Montreal branch of Odd Stumble, a new theatre company with a branch in London and a Finnish branch on the way.
"It's an opportunity to think about how we use the space, how we collaborate with the spaces with all of the artists in them and create an experience that audiences will feeling invigorated from."
It's all about bringing you another way to experience and engage with theatre, dance, music, visual and installation art and of course, the Rialto.
The main hall is where your experience at Archipelago will begin, witnessing three actresses in a live performance piece. They're roped-off, like at museum.
And just before the end of their piece, your attention is drawn toward the stage.
You, and other audience members will move some 20 feet away to the stage area where a live band will perform.
Up onto the stage and when you look up and around, you'll see more artists presenting original work.
All of them are independent of each other, but somehow linked.
You follow the ropes, or the sounds, or the lights, as you move through three floors of the Mile-End Rialto building ending up in the backstage areas where bands usually hang out, stairwells and even washrooms.
The Archipelago Festival is on until Jan. 14 at the Rialto Theatre.