By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Well, Edmonton, your theatre week is full of intriguing shows that “Edmonton never gets to see,” as L’UniThéâtre’s Brian Dooley puts it.
*Starting Wednesday, L’UniThéâtre, our hospitable francophone theatre, is hosting a cabaret/play like no other. Dooley calls Bibish de Kinshasa “an event” or “an experience” for want of a better term. Where else in town will a for-real taste of another culture be part of your evening at the theatre? Just asking.
The work of Montreal’s Productions Hôtel-Motel, Bibish de Kinshasa,is a multi-dimensional multi-sensory theatrical adaptation of a 2008 novel (Samantha à Kinshasa) by Congolese journalist Marie-Louise Bibish Mumbu, who reworked it a couple of a couple of years ago when she left her African home and found a new one in Quebec.
“The director (and adapter) Philippe Ducros is actually part of the show,” says Dooley. “There’s a documentary meta- aspect to it; he’s onstage interviewing the author,” as the infrastructure of a sort of memoir. The main character (Gisele Kayembo) guides us through the streets of Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. Another of the four performers is the bartender, who’s actually serving drinks.
The idea is to create an embracing context, as Dooley describes the show, which runs in French (with English surtitles, except for Thursday’s performance). There’s music, there’s insight into exile and the immigrant experience, there’s geopolitical discussion, there’s reflection on the endless war that’s built into the reality of the Congo.
Since there’s drink and Congolese food, arrive 30 minutes before show time for the full experience. Bibish de Kinshasa runs Wednesday through Saturday at L’UniThéâtre, La Cité francophone (8627 91 St.).
•At the Citadel, a strikingly vivid, physicalized kind of storytelling comes our way via a collaboration between South African and Canadian actors directed by Daryl Cloran. Ubuntu: The Cape Town Project, is in motion on the Maclab stage only till Sunday. And needless to say, there’s nothing quite like it in the season. Check out the 12thnight.ca review. Tickets: 780-425-1820, citadeltheatre.com
•There is no precedent for the site-specific/ horror/ history/ urban lore extravaganzas set in the Edmonton of the past — except of course the nine previous annual editions of Dead Centre of Town. Catch The Keys Productions’ 10th annual incarnation of their original productions, which dig in the graveyard of E-town history, is running at the Johnny J. Jones Midway in Fort Edmonton Park through Oct. 31. Be very afraid. Tickets at Fort Edmonton Park. Have a look at the 12thnight.ca preview of Dead Centre of Town.
•There is nothing in contemporary theatre quite like the hyper-realism of Annie Baker, which shimmers with the cumulation closely detailed observations till your mind buzzes and meaning emerges in long silences. In The Aliens, currently getting an attentive and hypnotic What It Is production at Theatre Network, in the Roxy Performance Series, you’ll meet creative, smart young characters in a kind of suspended animation. Consult the 12thnight.ca review of The Aliens.
•Onstage at the U of A’s Studio Theatre, the season opener is A Bright Room Called Day, an early work by Tony Kushner, who would later make his name as playwright and public intellectual with the monumental Angels in America. This 1991 piece, which investigates the way history loops, originally crosscut the rise of the Third Reich and Reaganite America. It’s been updated periodically since. And now, in the production adapted and directed by Brenley Charkow, it parallels 1930s Germany and the current Trump landscape.
The production runs through Saturday at the Timms Centre for the Arts. Tickets: Studio Theatre or 780-492-2495.
There’s more. Who, for example, would be gutsy enough to even consider doing an Aretha Franklin/ Tina Turner concert/revue type show? Soul Sistas is an evening at the Mayfield to knock your socks off, starring Tara Jackson and Tiffany Deriveau, with great back-up from an ace band. Check out the 12thnight.ca review of Soul Sistas.
For that matter, what community theatre would step up to the time-honoured and weighty challenges of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House? There. It’s running at Walterdale (through Saturday), and I’ve answered my own question. Tickets: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca)