Our reviewers have been out enjoying some fantastic theatre already this month, and it’s only the 4th! This month features many exciting theatre experiences, so get out your calendar and make some plans with friends to get you out of winter hibernation!
Skirtsafire Festival, Edmonton
This year, the Skirtsafire team have outdone themselves, scheduling a festival jam-packed with theatrical, musical, poetic and artistic events showcasing and celebrating women in the arts. From now until next Sunday March 11th, Edmonton’s 118th avenue will be buzzing. Some nearby venues have also been added, like the stunning St. Faith’s Church where the brilliant acoustics are going to be brought to life by the Maria Dunn Trio as well as a Women’s Choir Festival!
Throughout the week, the Nina Haggerty Gallery’s Visual Arts Exhibit features five local artists who have been exploring the theme “The Wombs We Come From”. This is sure to be a colourful and diverse expression of womanhood and human experience from a colourful and diverse group of artists, many from First Nations backgrounds. The recurring Skirt Design Competition is featured in a separate gallery at their Main Stage venue, the Cabaret Theatre, where flagship production The Romeo Initiative runs throughout the festival. You can even meet the playwright Trina Davies before the show on March 10th!
The Carrot Café and Otto Food & Drink will both be packed with musical and poetic events including The Key of She. Morgan Nadeau gives a deeply moving clown performance in her one-woman show Silenced. They even have a documentary film screening with the first in a local six-part series, Sustainable Me, and a workshop on Creating a Culture of Consent: Community Bystander Interventions.
The best part about this cornucopia of creativity? Nearly ALL of the events are by donation! So check out their calendar here to plan your visit to the festival! Skirt optional!
I’d like to take a quick minute, spinning off the Skirtsafire celebration of women in the arts, to draw attention to a really important project. #YEGtheatreStats has been compiling statistics from Edmonton theatre productions to bring awareness to the ratios of Women to Men in our industry. Making these stats available is not only fascinating, but vital in the theatre industry’s journey towards story telling that is more equal in every way.
Each month, #YEGtheatreStats publishes a comprehensive review of which playwrights are getting stage time, who’s directing the productions, how the casts and crews break down as well as how the content of those plays score on the Bechtel test- posing questions like, do two women speak to each other about something other than a man?
I’m super excited about this project getting more attention because the equality conversation needs constant fuel rejuvenation. It’s not enough to keep talking about the same tired hashtags and scandals- in my experience, this makes the conversation just as tired (she writes as Jimmy Kimmel does his Weinstein “bit” on the Oscars in the background).
Let’s keep the conversation fresh, relevant, and rolling! Visit www.jefferysl.wixsite.com/yegtheatrestats
Stafford Arima Announces his First Full Season as Theatre Calgary’s Artistic Director
Although Stafford Arima has been getting to know Calgary for some time now, 2018/19 will be his first full season as Theatre Calgary’s new Artistic Director. Following TC’s 50th anniversary year, Arima is focussing on new beginnings with three world premieres, two big box office musicals and some classic literature brought to life on stage.
The Secret Garden was not “technically” part of the season announcement since it’s been in the works for ages, but I did want to include it here as it mark’s Arima’s first big TC project as director of this beloved classic story in all its musical glory. The Secret Garden runs April 17th- May 19th.
Two Gentlemen of Verona is considered by many to be Shakespeare’s first play, and could feasibly stand as the first recorded “bit with a dog” joke. Theatre Calgary’s annual showcase of emerging artists, Shakespeare by the Bow, will bring this delightful comedy to Prince’s Island Park this summer from June 29th- August 19th.
Honour Beat is the first premiere of three in this season, featuring a fabulous team of female creatives. Written by Tara Beagan and directed by Michelle thrush, Honour Beat tells the story of two sisters searching for renewed identity following the death of their mother. Plays from September 2nd-29th.
Mary and Max: The Musical will see Arima back at the directing helm for a new musical that brings the popular Australian claymation characters to the stage. While exploring the meaning of friendship, this heart-warming new musical also brings attention to social disorders as Max, a 44 year old man with asperges syndrome, connects with unlikely pen pal, 10 year old Mary. Plays from October 14th-November 10th.
A Christmas Carol returns for Stephen Hair’s 25th year as Scrooge. This beloved Christmas classic plays from November 29th – December 23rd.
Boom X is a sequel of sorts, what Arima call’s “Act 2” of Rick Miller’s hugely popular show BOOM, both shows x-ploring Generation-Xers living through the legacy of the baby boomers. Plays from January 13th-February 9th.
The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous heroine of classic literature, and her emblazoned scarlet “A”, for adulteress. For those who have not read the novel, Hester’s puritan world of the 17th century bears a striking resemblance to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopic novel, as she fights back against a deeply misogynistic society. Look for performances with Talk Back sessions after the show- they’re bound to be scintillating! The Scarlet Letter runs February 24th- March 23rd.
Billy Elliot: The Musical closes out TC’s season in celebration of one of Calgary’s foremost choreographers, Yukichi Hattori, long-time principle dancer from Alberta Ballet. One of the longest running shows on London’s West End, Elton John’s music brings to life the story of a working-class boy pursuing his dreams. Featuring a huge cast of local dance talent, Billy Elliot is sure to strike a chord with Calgarian audiences. Plays from April 7th – May 11th.
For more information on the full season and to buy tickets, visit www.theatrecalgary.com
Top Picks from Around Alberta
Our reviewers have been super busy attending openings around the province, so this list will update as those reviews come out! We’ll keep you posted as they’re published!
Blood of Our Soil, Pyretic Theatre, Edmonton
artwork for Blood of our Soil by Larissa Pohoreski
When playwright Lianna Makuch opened her grandmother’s diary, she stumbled on material that would give a voice to the great Ukranian/Canadian legacy. The Canadian Prairies became a refuge for many Ukranian families fleeing the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, and Blood of Our Soil features beautiful story-telling with a mix of mediums, from live Ukranian music and dancing to chilling projections.
We absolutely LOVED this production! Read the AB Theatre Guide Review and get your tickets quick before this gem closes!
Blood of our Soil runs at the Westbury Playhouse in Edmonton from now until March 9th. Tickets and info at www.pyreticproductions.ca
Outside Mullingar, Shadow Theatre, Edmonton
This famous Irish love story is a perfect snapshot of rural life that’s sure to find many parallels with us on the prairies. Ireland’s wet and dreary countryside will certainly provide some respite from our cold and snowy one as John Patrick Shanley’s hilarious yet poetic story follows two middle-aged introverts search for happiness.
Outside Mullingar runs at the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton from March 7th-25th. Tickets and info at www.shadowtheatre.org
Children of God, The Citadel, Edmonton
This indigenous musical from Oji-Cree Canadian Corey Payette proves just how vital theatre is as a tool for healing, empathy and understanding. Children of God brings the impact of residential schools to the stage in a haunting new musical that promises to be one of the most deeply moving theatre experiences of the season.
Children of God plays at The Citadel’s Shoctor Theatre in Edmonton until March 24th. Tickets and info at www.citadeltheatre.com
Constellations, Alberta Theatre Projects, Calgary
Constellations traces the relationship between a bee keeper from Wiltshire and an astrophysicist through multiple dimensions. Nick Payne’s multi-linear two-hander was a hit on London’s West End and Broadway, and now Valerie Planche (one of my favourite directors in Calgary) brings it to ATP!
Constellations plays at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary’s Arts Commons until March 17th. Tickets and info at www.atplive.com
1984, Scorpio Theatre, Calgary
If you’ve ever read George Orwell’s prophetic book, or seen the classic film, or if your only exposure to Big Brother was the celebrity reality show, this production is relevant to us all. Michael Gene Sullivan’s adaptation of this bleak, (not-so) futuristic world captures the terrifying essence of 1984, putting us all on the radar of the “Thought Police”.
1984 plays at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary from now until March 10th. Tickets and info at www.scorpio.ca
The Humans, Theatre Calgary, Calgary
For those who missed The Citadel’s production of this Tony Award winning play, we get another shot as Theatre Calgary brings its own production to town! One family’s Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny apartment in NYC’s Chinatown uncovers astonishing love, devotion, and an unsavoury secret or two.
The Humans play at the Max Bell Theatre in Calgary from March 6th-31st. Tickets and info at www.theatrecalgary.com
So get out there and see some theatre, and don’t forget to check in with us as we’ll be posting reviews for loads of these shows!