The rEvolver Theatre Festival opens next week with an eclectic line-up that has become synonymous with this annual Vancouver celebration of emerging professional theatre artists and companies.
Over its eleven days, the rEvolver Theatre Festival will feature twelve ticketed shows plus an extensive line-up of free and by donation events, readings and conversations. Big on the agenda this year are shows that reflect the diversity of Vancouver’s theatre community, including seven shows created or directed by women, and seven created by, or with, artists of colour in a significant leadership role.
“This year’s programming showcases bold, risk-taking, artist-driven work by a new wave of talent,” say organisers.
Among the mainstage shows this year are a puppet show based on a Polish board game, and two Canadian immigrant stories.
Among the offerings is star star theatre’s Kolejka, a non-verbal adult puppet show, inspired by a Polish board game of the same name.
Dubbed Poland’s communist “monopoly” board game, Kolejka was developed as an educational game by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, designed to teach younger generations about the hardships under that country’s communist regime. In the game players go shopping and face the shortage of goods that existed during the time. The winner is the first player to collect the required set of goods.
“I had played the board game a couple of summers ago, and it was a really and fun and educational look at communism in Poland. Its whimsical and fun nature spoke to me,” says Randi Edmundson, co-artistic producer for star star theatre and one of the creators of Kolejka.
While early versions of Kolejka were tied more closely to the board game, during its development the creative team – Julie Casselman, Randi Edmundson, Stephanie Elgersma, Aliya Griffin, and Jared Raschke – took the puppet show in a different direction.
“It is a little bit of a departure from standing in line and getting what you want,” says Edmundson. “Now it focuses on Babushka, a very lonely woman who needs something, or someone, to fill an empty space in herself.”
Told through a mix of rod and shadow puppets and physical theatre, Kolejka also feature an original score by Julie Casselman who wowed audiences with her music for Twenty Something Theatre’s Tender Napalm last year.
“Think of it more as a dance piece with physical performances that are puppets,” says director Mika Laulainen. “With the non-verbal puppets it allows you to watch the movement and physicalization of the piece.”
Written and directed by rice & beans theatre’s co-artistic director, Pedro Chamale Jr, Mis Papás is the true story of his parent’s story of immigrating to Canada in search for a better life. Told in the form of a fifteen-round boxing match, the bilingual (English & Spanish) Mis Papás has been adapted from interviews with Chamale’s parents.
“Mis Papás is a piece of intense physical theatre with moments of choreographed boxing and unscripted sparring between performers,” says the media release. “Mis Papás represents a story most immigrants can relate to but that is often not represented on stage.”
Never The Last
Delinquent Theatre and Electric Company Theatre team-up for Never The Last, a new work that reunites many of the creative team behind the Jessie Award-winning Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical, which also received its premiere at the rEvolver Festival’s predecessor in 2012.
Never the Last is the true story of Sophie Carmen Friedman, a Russian-born Canadian immigrant who went on to become one of Canada’s most cherished composers after overcoming years of discrimination and the tragic loss of her husband.
“This piece features her ten solo violin compositions as a frame for the story of Sophie and her first husband, expressionist painter Walter Grammaté,” says Delinquent Theatre co-founder Christine Quintana. “We’re fusing classical music performance, theatre, and dance to tell her story.”
The 2016 rEvolver Theatre Festival runs May 11-22 at The Cultch (1895 Venables St, Vancouver). Visit http://revolverfestival.ca for tickets and information.