A theatre to-do list for the week, including a bread and circus combo, kid stuff, costume and video installations, shows to stream

Bread and Circus, Firefly Theatre and Circus. Photo supplied.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

In week ten thousand of the pandemic, before you actually melt into Netflix and disappear, clicker in hand, put a couple of suggestions on your theatre to-do list. The word ‘fun’ does not go amiss, I assure you.

•Aerialists rise. They’re like bread that way.

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For sheer originality in “pivoting,” and a kind of witty inevitability given the times, it’s hard to top the ever-inventive Firefly Theatre & Circus. Bread and Circus, coming your way live-streamed Friday evening, is named for a Roman phrase, meaning public diversionary tactics used by savvy politicians during times of unrest, confinement, and general malaise. “Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt” (Juvenal). Side notre: Marie Antoinette obviously had not read Juvenal, or she never would have mentioned cake and thereby caused the French Revolution.

The Firefly evening combines two anti-gravity sensations, bread-making and top-flight circus artists from around the world. While your fougasse-in-progress is levitating (under instruction from of chefs at Get Cooking) you’ll be watching the latter do the same.

They’re an international brigade of some 24 artists who sent Firefly eight videos from three continents, six countries, two provinces, and Calgary, including four circus artists from here: Lyne Gosselin, Maria Albiston, Normand Boulé, and Stephanie Gruson. All but the artist from Australia (Kristi Wade) — ironic since Australian theatres have re-opened, are performing for real audiences. And audiences are the yeast of live theatre.

Meanwhile, the online entertainment is further enhanced by live-streamed performances from the Edmonton band Le Fuzz and taiko drumming specialists Rabbits Three.

Firefly co-founders Annie Dugan and John Ullyatt host. Bread & Circus happens Friday, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are at Firefly Theatre.

•The Kids Fest turns 40 this year. In honour of this auspicious birthday of festivities devoted to unlocking the kid imagination, the International Children’s Festival of the Arts has launched 40 Days of Play this week. Every day, on the St. Albert website, you’ll find a new creative challenge, visual art activity, outdoor exploration (I suspect strongly that sourdough will not be involved). Photos posted on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #40DaysofPlay are eligible for prizes.

The grand finale, June 4 to 6, is an online version of the festivities headquartered up the road on the banks of the mighty Sturgeon: “three days of virtual, interactive and international entertainment programming.” The lineup is announced May 7.

•I know you’ll be yearning to emerge from your domestic stronghold and the mesmeric power grab of your screen and have a theatre visit. Here are two possibilities:

On the Citadel’s south-facing windows catch a video installation that will give you a thrill and leave you hungry for more.

Chris Dodd in Deafy, Windows To New Works, Citadel Theatre.

The video installation Window To New Works is a loop of projected scenes and songs from theatre projects in development at the downtown playhouse or elsewhere in town. Among them are Erin Shields’ Jane Eyre (starring Gianna Vacirca), Almost A Full Moon by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman and Hawksley Workman, Tai Amy Grauman’s You Used To Call Me Marie, Mieko Ouchi’s new play Burning Mom (starring Maralyn Ryan). The other night I saw glimpses of The Garneau Block, Heaven, and Chris Dodd’s Deafy. 

Check them out till May 31, and give your theatre bio-clock a crank.

In the Varscona windows, designer Leona Brausen’s original costume installation Hero Material, continues with the Canadian artist Emily Carr. Amazingly, in one of the panels, Brausen has re-created Carr’s celebrated painting Red Cedar, using 1940s dressing gowns. No kidding. Who would do that? To get the full effect, with theatrical lighting, catch it after dark.

•Continuing: A Brimful of Asha and Mary’s Wedding are both available to stream from the Citadel. (Check out the 12thnight reviews for the former here and the latter here. The U of A’s Studio Theatre season continues with an online production of Mary Zimmerman’s strange and playful fairy tale mash-up The Secret in the Wings, directed by Fringe associate director Elizabeth Hobbs. Read the 12thnight interview with that multi-faceted artist here.  And get tickets here.

•And since it takes a creative people to change the world, check out the three inspiring short videos fashioned by artists commissioned by Catalyst Theatre for the National Transformation Project. Kristi Hansen, Rebecca Sadowski, and Chris Dodd, aka The Transformers, all thought about how the world could be made better. Find them at catalysttheatre.ca or on the National Arts Centre website.

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