What’s up in Edmonton theatre this weekend? Have a peek

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

What’s up in Edmonton theatre this weekend? Oh, you know, the usual…. A new theatre is glowing from the inside out. Shows are ending their runs, a live season of Die-Nasty is about to begin, Opera Nuova is back, live. Walterdale Theatre goes live this week, RISER Edmonton has chosen its four indie projects to support. And, hey, the Fringe has excellent news for us.

•The glowing yellow Roxy is a ray of sunshine direct to the heart, as work continues on the new home of Theatre Network, getting built on the footprint of the old. Now have a boo at the projections in the big glass front window giving on 124th St. They’re testing their new equipment, with cool imagery in honour of the spooky season (till the end of Halloween night). Soon, theatre-goers, soon, you’ll be there. The new Theatre Network welcomes audiences in January.

•This week Fringe Theatre had good news for us. Megan Dart, an unstoppably creative and multi-faceted theatre artist/ arts producer/ event planner, officially brings that formidable skill set to the Fringe, as the company’s Executive Director. She’s been in that uniquely demanding job on an interim basis since the departure of Adam Mitchell last March.

Fringe Theatre Executive Director Megan Dart

Fringe 2021 had to be the craziest, most challenging audition in history, surely. Our Fringe, the oldest and biggest of its kind in North America, turned 40 this past summer under circumstances that were, to say the least, a test of inventiveness and flexibility for a festival . Along with fellow artist Fringe director Murray Utas, Dart, the co-founder and co-artistic producer of Catch the Key Productions (an indie specializing in original, immersive theatre), devised a route through the intricacies of the moment. And they were daunting: how to respond to the ever-changing pandemical restrictions, how to make the Fringe, against the odds, happen live, and also have an online presence, how to retain a breath of its signature festive spirit and identity in a smaller version of something gigantic.   

Organizing anarchy has a certain paradoxical delicacy. It requires smarts, a deft touch, an instinctive inclination to say Yes, a collaborative temperament, rapport with fractious artists, audiences, and administrators.… Dart is ready, impressively, for all of it.

RISER participants (clockwise) Cuban Movements Dance Academy, NASRA, Even Gilchrist, Tai Amy Grauman. Photo supplied.

•RISER, the innovative project initiated by Toronto’s Why Not Theatre in 2014, was envisioned to initiative  designed to address the daunting challenges in producing indie theatre. Its first national expansion was announced for Edmonton last March. A jury has selected four participants: Tai Amy Grauman, Even Gilchrist, NASRA, and Cuban Movements Dance Academy. We’ll get to see their projects at the Backstage Theatre in February.

•Walterdale Theatre, Edmonton’s venerable community playhouse, launches their live season Wednesday with Colleen Murphy’s gut-wrenching Governor-General’s Award-winning The December Man (L’Homme de décembre). Its eight scenes unspool backwards from an egregious act of public violence, the murder of 14 women students in Room 303 of Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989. It’s not about the act itself, it’s about the fallout on one survivor, a young man and his parents. Alex Hawkins’ production runs Nov. 3 through 13. Tickets: tixonthesquare.ca.

Sheldon Elter in Bears, Punctuate! Theatre. Photo by Alexis McKeown.

It’s the last weekend for:

Bears, Matthew MacKenzie’s imaginative, gorgeously theatrical fantasia on Nature, a man’s transformation as he journeys into it, in flight, and what we stand to lose if we screw it up. The Punctuate! Production is back here where it started, and this time it’s on the big stage. At the Citadel through Sunday. Don’t miss. Tickets: citadel theatre.com, 780-425-1820.

Hiraeth, a mysterious dark comedy by Belinda Cornish premiering in a Bright Young Things production at the Varscona through Saturday. An audaciously unsettling combination of heartbreaking and funny, and what to do if you can’t get what you really really want. Tickets: varsconatheatre.com.

Mathew Hulshof and Kristen Padayas in A Fit, Happy Life, Teatro La Quindicina. Photo by Adam Kidd.

Lost Lemoine Part 1, A Second Round of Seconds: Lost Lemoine Part 2, and A Fit, Happy Life, the three streamed productions that launched Teatro La Quindicina’s 2021 season (the fourth production, Fever Land, ran live). All are by Teatro’s resident playwright Stewart Lemoine, unearthed from the impressively huge original Lemoine comedy archive.  And all were filmed on the stage of Teatro’s home, the Varscona Theatre, behind the red velvet curtain. Ingenious, quixotic, and fun. Streaming passes: teatroq.com.

We Had A Girl Before You, a solo gothic thriller (yes, amazing!) by Northern Light Theatre’s Trevor Schmidt, starring Kristin Johnston, remains available for streaming through Halloween night. It’s a corker. Passes: northernlighttheatre.com.

Little Women, Opera Nuova. Photo by Nanc Price.

It’s the only weekend for: 

… Little Women, the Broadway musical spun from the evergreen Civil War era Louisa May Alcott novel about the four March sisters and their mama.  Opera Nuova makes a welcome return to live, in four performances through Sunday at the Maclab Theatre in Leduc, with streaming possibilities too. Kim Mattice Wanat directs (and plays Marmee). And her cast includes Hannah Wigglesworth, Elizabeth Chamberlain, Julia van Dam, Errin Pettifor, Ruth Alexander, Kaden Forsberg, Rob Herriot, Jackson Card, and Kael Wynn.  Tickets: Ticketpro.ca, 1-800-655-9090, or 780-487-4844.


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