The Shift 1-Act Festival has something for everyone

CMYK Shift 1-act festival - The After After Party 3

The Shift 1-Act Festival promises an eclectic mix of shows. From a play about a professional surrogate mother that is part cautionary tale, part memoir, and part stand up comedy routine, to a play by a group of SFU alumni that explores the works of Phillip K Dick, this festival has range. 

“There’s a good mix. You can find a little bit of everything,” artistic managing director Nick Sartore stated. “What we really wanted to do with the festival is give people a chance to see a lot of different kinds of works.” Sartore explained that the variety of shows will help draw not only those well versed in theatre, but people who may be new to theatre, and more hesitant to commit to one full length play.

“Normally, you think okay, I’m going to the theatre to see this one show that’s going to run two and a half hours and hope I like it because I’ve invested $30 on a ticket.” He continued, “Whereas with this, [. . . it’s] a bunch of different stories so maybe some of them you like, some of them you don’t and hopefully you like more than you don’t. But hey, that’s sort of the fun of it.”

The plays are mostly performed by graduates of local theatre programs including SFU, UBC, Langara College, and Douglas College. The festival, which was extended by a day this year, gives these students of theatre a chance to showcase their works in front of an audience. 

“It can be hard sometimes for especially independent theatre to get an audience [. . .] so it’s really great we have such a fantastic audience.”

The seventh annual Shift 1-Act Festival features five plays, with four of them written by their presenters. An initially planned sixth show, The Oxford Letters was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts. 

Desire(e) contains both drama and comedy in a story about a  professional surrogate mother who loses the ability to bear children before she has her own. Written by Scott Button and directed by Evan Frayne, the show explores dreams and what happens when they don’t come true. 

Theatre group A Wake of Vultures, comprised of SFU graduates, looks at the works of Phillip K Dick in The PKD Workshop. “The show’s very academic, so it’s maybe something people haven’t seen before where it’s presented almost in a lecture style,” said Sartore, before describing the show as a “really awesome audio-visual experience.”

The After After Party (Waiting for Gordo) is “an original comedic two-hander [. . .] about two best friends who totally deserve each other” written and performed by Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley who play Fiona and Jules who wait for a guy, presumably named Gordo.

The Merchant of Showboat is the only adapted play, originally written by Jason Sherman. SFU theatre graduate Kaylin Metchie directs this play which raises questions about race and culture.

This Time I Get What I Want is a one woman show written and performed by Jennica Grienke, a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. It is described by Grienke as “a solo triumph of self in which the lead character (loosely based on me) confronts her hopes, dreams and desires on stage.” The lead character who shares the name “Jennica” is described as “single, depressed, unemployed and perhaps slightly alcoholic.”

The Shift 1-Act Festival will be held at The Cultch from June 18 to 21. For more information, visit