The newly created Dialled Up festival will highlight the ways in which the theatre company engages with and furthers the artistic endeavours of local theatre artists. Photo by Mark Thompson on Unsplash.
The newly created Dialled Up festival will highlight the ways in which the theatre company engages with and furthers the artistic endeavours of local theatre artists. Photo by Mark Thompson on Unsplash.

The Arts Club Theatre Company is inviting the community into its digital and physical spaces in August with Dialled Up: An Arts Club Community Celebration.

The newly created festival will highlight the ways in which the theatre company engages with and furthers the artistic endeavours of local theatre artists.

“Though we can’t put on live performances just yet, we don’t want that to stop us from honouring the beauty and talent of our community,” says artistic director Ashlie Corcoran in a media release.

Dialled Up is a way for us to gather safely and acknowledge the incredible work being done by theatre artists even during this time of crisis through programs like our Emerging Playwrights’ Unit, Bill Millerd Artist Fund, Company-in-Residence Program, Access Space Grant, and Silver Commissions Project.”

Set to take place August 8 through 14, the festival will feature a blend of virtual and in-person events spotlighting professional development programs and initiatives offered by the company. Events will include everything from videos to play readings and roundtable discussions with Arts Club artists.

“We’re thinking of it as a company-wide takeover,” says Corcoran. “We want it to be clear to anyone opening our website, social media, or newsletters that we’re in the midst of a festival, and for them to experience the warm sense of community that an in-person arts festival creates.”

Dialled Up kicks off with a virtual open mic night on August 8, featuring MC Munish Sharma. Actors, artists, and members of the theatre community will be given a five-minute slot which they may use to share their art in any way they choose, whether that’s singing a song, reading their work, or presenting a monologue.

Festival content will also include personalized videos from Silver Commissions playwrights and 2019 Bill Millerd Artist Fund recipients. The Silver Commissions Project provides funding for two playwrights each season to write a new play with the goal of eventually producing it on one of the company’s three stages, and the Bill Millerd Artist Fund assists B.C. theatre artists with expenses related to opportunities that advance their artistic development, such as apprenticeships and workshops.

Viewers will also hear from participants in the Arts Club’s Company-in-Residence Program, which is designed to offer professional development, encouragement, and resources for a Vancouver-based company in its early years of creating and producing theatre. Video profiles of both the current company-in-residence, rice & beans theatre, and the incoming company, Babelle Theatre, will be broadcast during the festival.

The festival will also present So Damn Proud, written by Justin Neal and produced by Holy Crow Arts. Recipients of the Arts Club’s Access Space Grant, the grant provides independent theatre companies with a rental subsidy to use the Newmont Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre as a performance venue. While the play would normally be performed live at the venue, due to current pandemic restrictions it has been replaced by a pre-recorded showcase.

The week-long festival will wrap up with a live reading of Redbone Coonhound at the BMO Theatre Centre on August 14. This 2018 Silver Commission written by Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton will feature actors Ese Atawo, Bryan Demore, Kayla Deorksen, Chris Francisque, Nancy Kerr, Brian Markinson, and Adrian Neblett.

The Redbone Coonhound reading will be streamed online for a pay-what-you-can donation with proceeds going to the Arts Club’s newly established Denis Simpson Fund. This endowment fund was created in honour of the late multitalented performer Denis Simpson. It is also part of the Arts Club’s Statement of Actions, which outlines the company’s commitment to removing barriers to inclusion in its culture, hiring practices, and programming, including those created by systemic racism.

More information on the Dialled Up festival schedule will be shared on the Arts Club’s Digital Edition website and social media channels in the coming weeks.