Anyone who’s ever sat through an evening of theatre knows intermission is a much-need reprieve from the confined rows of guests, a chance to stretch the legs before returning to the show.
But Theatre SKAM has come up with a series of short performances ideal for even the most distraction-prone arts lover: Bike Ride.
“We have 14 theatre companies from Victoria, Vancouver and outside B.C.,” said Matthew Payne, Theatre SKAM artistic producer. “If you’ve never been, this is the year to try it.”
Now in its sixth year, Bike Ride is an outdoor festival along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Theatre goers meet at Cecilia Ravine Park (475 Burnside Rd.) on their bicycles and follow a map to each performance along a four-kilometre stretch of the trail.
Last year’s shows attracted more than 500 people, Payne said, from regular Theatre SKAM supporters to young families and curious seniors.
“There’s a seniors complex right near the Selkirk Trestle, so we’ve had seniors on their mobile scooters come along as well,” he said.
The festival is in a sweet spot in terms of attendance, as anything over 800 people could mean a change in the casual approach to the venues.
“In future years, the festival will have to change. So I would say see it now in this incarnation, while you’re still getting in on the ground floor,” Payne said.
Audiences can participate in up to four tours (12 shows) on one admission. Between rides, find healthy food vendors and surprise bursts of entertainment that emerge from the environment of the park.
The variety of shows in such a short punch is impressive: dance, storytelling, comedy, poetry, opera singing and even a murder mystery will entice audiences.
“One of the reasons we started Bike Ride was to support the emerging artists locally,” Payne said. “A lot of them have worked locally as professional artists in places like Craigdarroch Castle, Atomic Vaudeville and Butchart Gardens and they’re all paid for their work.”
Two out-of-town artists to watch are the Ottawa Stilt Union, who perform as expected, and Vancouver-based dancer Johanna Dalgleish performing choreographed work by Toronto-based Meagan O’Shea.
“The festival’s working terrifically well, so our goal is just to crack 600 theatre goers,” Payne said. “We’re working on our incremental growth. Hopefully Bike Ride grows to become an institution in Victoria.”
Adults pay $15 advance, $20 on site, and two-day passes cost $25. Kids 12 and under are free.