By: Jocelyn Stevens, SFU Student
Upintheair Theatre will be hosting its highly anticipated annual rEvolver Festival at The Cultch in East Vancouver. The 12-day festival returns in-person this year from May 25–June 5. In regards to COVID-19, masks are recommended or mandatory depending on the show, and are provided upon request. The festival presents various performances and events produced by “a new generation of Canadian interdisciplinary artists.” Tickets are priced between the following options: $30, $22, or $15. They also offer ticket packages, with the all-access pass being $120.
This year’s programming focuses on the theme of interconnectivity and ranges from theatrical performances and stage readings to intimate interactive digital and audio experiences. With such an impressive and inclusive roster this year, the festival is not one to miss.
Gender? I Hardly Know Them by Elena Belyea and Syd Campbell
Photo Credit: Elena Eli Belyea
Gender? I Hardly Know Them is created and performed by comedians Elena Belyea and Syd Campbell from Tiny Bear Jaws in Edmonton. This sketch show is “out to queer the world” through comedy in a fun yet provocative approach. What really interests me about this piece besides it being a comedy — which I’m a big fan of — is that the show is based on the Alberta Prairies. It makes me wonder: “What is it like to be queer in the prairies?”
You can view this sketch from May 26–May 29.
Holy Moly by Jarin Schexnider
Photo Credit: Jarin Schexnider
Go find a pair of corded headphones for this next show performed and created by Jarin Schexnider. It is a unique, interactive, “choose your own adventure” production that gives the viewer control on how it plays out. If you attend, you will be given a random audio track from Schexnider’s personal cassette tapes. These cassette tapes are mixed with “jazzercise, cooking shows, and Schexnider’s own childhood field recordings to recover a feeling of holiness.” I’ve never been a part of an interactive performance where the audience decides how the plot plays out, so I’m really excited for this one.
You can view this performance from May 25–May 29.
Harvesting Ancestral “Tea-Chings” by Siobhan Barker
Photo Credit: Siobhan Barker
This is another interactive performance that includes stories and traditional African cooking from writer, producer, and performer Siobhan Barker. Those who attend will partake in humorous storytelling and cook-along while “exploring known and unknown mixed-racial identity and intersectionality in living with disability.” The goal of this interactive performance is collectiveness and reconnecting with cultural roots. As a Métis person, this piece interests me because it talks about ancestral teachings, displaced and colonized people, and how the “Black/African diaspora carry the land” with them in every form; experiences which are familiar to the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (Canada) as well.
This performance is available May 26–June 5, with an in-person viewing (masks mandatory) available on May 26.
Built Different by Connor Runnings
Photo Credit: Tamara McCarthy
Couch Dwellers Productions presents a play that follows four autistic young adults who bond by reflecting on difficult truths after the passing of their behaviour consultant. This dramedy about “love, loss, and solidarity” will be one that stays with the viewer. This production gives perspective on what dealing with these types of scenarios can be like for an individual with autism. There is a “relaxed performance” viewing where lights will remain partially dimmed and doors will be left open.
This performance will be held from June 2–June 5, with the relaxed viewing held on June 4.
FR (Friendship Ritual) by Calvin Peterson
Photo Credit: Calvin Peterson
This one I found not only cool, but super cute in the sense that it’s something you can do with your loved ones, whether they are your closest friend, family member, or your partner. Here, you and one other person go through an intimate and interactive 45–60 minute audio experience. The fun audio programme guides you through friendship with art, dancing, and deep reflections. I personally want to give FR a try as its concept centers around encouraging you to appreciate the people in your life that have been with you through thick and thin.
Another cool note is that this event is free (who doesn’t love free stuff?) and remote, so it’s very accessible and available throughout the entire festival.
New Societies by Re:Current Theatre
This last performance is quite a unique one: a strategic 120-minute long game night moulded into a theatrical narrative that is ultimately created by the players’ choices. Attendees are placed into groups to build their own societies through improv and compete against other imaginary societies. What intrigues me about this piece is that it encourages the players to reflect on how our world and societies operate, which can be something one tries to avoid consciously and subconsciously. It gives players a chance to create a new and, perhaps, a better world: their very own utopia.
New Societies takes place off-site at Progress Lab 1442 running from June 1–June 4.