This weekend High Performance Rodeo and The Epcor center hosted one of the premiere events this city has to offer: the Grandstand, Midway and Freak show. As the festival started Janurary 5th, I had missed out on some of the performance’s earlier in the week, however all was made up the moment I stepped into the center court of the Epcor center and the cacophony of sound, light and patrons reveling hit me.
Saturday, the best night to attend this event and also the last; the performer’s energy was high and the actors were freely and possible drunkenly mingling amongst theatre goers, role playing, drawing you in and suspending the fourth wall in any way they could. A debaucheries kissing booth, tarot card reading and a body paint tent where I was told “absolutely anywhere can and will be painted.” As I walked around, watching some of the founding members of One Yellow Rabbit meander through the space, premier members of Calgary’s arts scene pop in and out of shows and booths and Michael Green stopping to chat with myself and my companion, I couldn’t help but feel certain sort of magic in the air.
The Midway, described as “…a creepy carnival of wandering wierdos, zombies, contortionists, freaky dancers, psychics, tarot card readers, circus musicians, spoken word artists that delve into the twisted depths of your imagination.” This year featuring the Summerwood Warren Solo Stage curated by the Summerwood Warren Collective, local Calgary musicians ranging from the synthy dancy pop of Synthosarus to the art rock of Tetrakty’s the performances were loud, weird and clearly some of the best emerging performance music coming out of Calgary today.
Catching the last tour of The Freak Show was a fluke in luck and taken full advantage of. Performance pieces ranging from a mock protest on the roof of the Epcor center to a child’s birthday party to an acrobatic dance piece, this one hour tour was entertaining and chilling. Well worth seeing, the performers within each piece did an amazing job and had true and strong characters which resonated in the found spaces they used to stage their shows around The Epcor center. Incredibly enough, the level of ‘artsy self awareness’ was kept at a minimum and the Freak Show audience was held spellbound by either laughter or amazement throughout the tour. Incredibly interesting to see the interaction between the performers, the audience and the adaptation to a space where the controls are beyond reach. To top off the Freak Show luck, my tour was graced with Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall fame, havng just closed his show Scottastrophe that evening.
Lastly the Grandstand, where many musical dreams had come true this weekend. Rumor has it that Friday’s Weezer tribute was amazing however Ghostkeeper and Jay Crocker’s tribute to both Tom Waits and The Band had tears a flowin’ and heels a tappin’. Playing until 1am and with the after party going until the wee hours of the morning, it was a great kick off week for the Rodeo.
This week coming up has some pretty amazing shows and it is impossible to possibly try and mention all but some highlights: January 15th-17th has Theaterlabor’s two show’s Body Fragments and Absurdesque and word in the mill is to not miss these by those in the know. Bravo!FACT presents two screenings on Sunday the 18th. The Bravo! foundation is a great arts supporter here in Canada and this year’s screening has some of Canada’s best short films. To make it that much better, admission is by donation. Wednesday the 21st, The Invisible Project continues in Calgary’s City Hall Atrium and that night Philip Glass, the One Yellow Rabbit artist in residence performs his Solo Piano show. This is not to be missed and although tickets are slightly pricy, the chance to see Philip Glass live and solo is one that doesn’t come around all too often. For more information go to www.oyr.org or give them a call at 403 264 3224.