Festivus ready for Opera House

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It certainly won’t be a show about nothing, and Theatre Canmore’s inaugural 10-minute Play Festival would likely make Jerry Seinfeld proud in that it’s been dubbed “Theatre for the Rest of Us.”

A takeoff of a Seinfeld episode where George’s father invented an alternative Festivus holiday (A Festivus for the Rest of Us), Theatre Canmore’s 10-minute Play Festivus runs March 16-19 at the Opera House in Spring Creek.

Among the Festivus offerings will be original plays performed and written by Canmore residents Marcus Williams (Peach Head Productions), Nikki Tate (Prodigal Daughter Productions) and Tangle and Tyler McClaron (Entangled Puppetry), and Canmore’s Super Lucky Cat Productions, as well as entries from Airdire’s Kim Cheel Productions and Edmonton’s Northern Sabbatical Productions.

The idea for the Festivus, said artistic producer Gerry McAuley, was for Theatre Canmore to offer something similar to Pine Tree Players’ recently wrapped one-act play festival. McAuley and others with Theatre Canmore have worked with Pine Tree over the years.

“We wanted to do something with less production and with more chances for more people to get involved,” he said. “A 10-minute festival does that. We have 11 plays now, and there are a lot of very good 10-minute plays out there.”

As it turns out, McAuley told those interested he could find some plays for those willing to be involved, “but we have six or seven original plays, which surprised me.

“People have talked about bringing a fringe festival here, but there’s so much organization with something like that. And with Spring Creek getting on board with the Opera House venue, we’re almost ready to go with this. They also made it available to us for a Christmas play, so they’ve been very supportive.”

Launching a new project is always a challenge, said McAuley, “but if we can get bums in seats and get people having fun, I’m sure we’ll be able to bring it back in future. We’ll be putting up signage to direct people to the Opera House and we’ll have a very good mix of plays, from comedy to drama.”

Three of the plays will feature Canmore’s talented young actors Benjamin Posacki, Ally Lacentra, Sage Pryer, Louise Gosse and Isis Burnett. The performances range from dramatic, such as “Conversations with the Spanish Lady” about the Spanish flu epidemic and “My Higher Power,” about a teenage addict, to comedic spoofs like “Super Man Takes the Bus” and “Almost the Pioneer Brewing Company” where a 104-year-old temperance grandmother derails plans for a new brewery.

A different mix of plays will be staged for each performance, so attendees could take in more than one evening and see something new.

As well, there will be the Festivus Feats of Strength 24-hour play competition. Five theatre groups from Canmore, Calgary, Banff and St Albert will each be given a prop, one line of dialogue, and a theme on Sunday (March 18) afternoon, and asked to return on Monday night (March 19) to perform their 10-minute creations.

“For the Monday,” said McAuley, “you could expect almost anything.”

Attendees will be able to share their comments on the festival, as organizers will display the traditional unadorned Festivus aluminum pole, on which attendees can hang their ‘Airing of Grievances.’ This will be an opportunity for the audience to share comments and vote on their favourite play. The top audience choices will be awarded prizes.

There will be Festivus snacks and drinks available for purchase, with performances at 8 p.m. each night, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $12 each at www.eventbrite.com and www.theatrecanmore.com.

The Festivus March 16-18 lineup includes: ShEHkespeare: A Canadian Folly by Kim Cheel (Friday, Saturday); How the Whale Brought the Rain by Tangle and Tyler McClaron (Friday, Sunday); Promise Keeper: The True Life of a True Friend by Marcus Williams (Friday, Sunday Matinee, Sunday night; My Higher Power by Melissa Klein (Saturday, Sunday); Strong as an Ox by Nikki Tate (Friday, Saturday, Sunday); Superman Takes the Bus by Kim Cheel (Sunday matinee); Conversation with a Spanish Lady by Robert Schennkkan (Friday, Saturday, Sunday); Nancy by Michael Wilmot (Saturday, Sunday Matinee); Almost the Pioneer Brewing Company by Linda Wood Edwards (Saturday, Sunday matinee, Sunday Night) and Gibberish v. Genius by Linda Wood Edwards (Friday, Sunday matinee).

Monday 24-hour feat of strength competitors include The Fates (Edmonton), Disenfranchised Stand-ups (Calgary), Don’t Not Talk to Strangers (St. Albert), Banff Theatre Collective and Canmoretown: The Web Series.

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