Darla Contois’ UNO Fest show, White Man’s Indian, is sure to stir up conversations around race and stereotypes. Photo by Peatr Thomas

Darla Contois’ UNO Fest show, White Man’s Indian, is sure to stir up conversations around race and stereotypes. Photo by Peatr Thomas

UNO FEST 2018: Giving voice to artists with important things to say

Continued success of festival after 20 seasons a testament to the work of Intrepid Theatre

Heather Lindsay likes to refer to UNO Fest as the “voice of the now,” for the way it allows contemporary theatre artists a chance to reflect publicly on what is happening today in their lives and society in general.

The Intrepid Theatre executive director hand selected all of the 17 shows scheduled for the 21st annual festival, May 9 to 19. While artists submit applications to have their shows included in the lineup, Lindsay also travels the country looking for jewels that might otherwise escape notice on the West Coast.

Intrepid has long held a torch for the underserved voice in Canadian theatre, she says, which naturally has dovetailed into one of the central themes for this year’s UNO Fest.

“There’s just incredible work in terms of Indigenous women coming out of the theatre scene in Canada,” Lindsay says. “These amazing women are demanding to be heard; if that’s something Intrepid can jump on board with we’re happy to do that.”

UNO Fest has its first ever guest Indigenous curator in Yolanda Bonnell, who worked with Lindsay to bring more of an aboriginal voice to the festival and is overseeing a youth Indigenous storytelling workshop, another first. To expand the process, Bonnell will open her festival entry, Bug, with vignettes created by the youth.

Three other entries have distinctly Indigenous perspectives: The Only Good Indian (Pandemic Theatre), which explores the historical use of the I-word; White Man’s Indian (WMI Collective), about what happens when one with mixed blood doesn’t appear as aboriginal, and The Chemical Valley Project (Broadleaf Theatre), which retells the story of an Indigenous-led environmental protest.

Taking advantage of the fact contemporary theatre is a good outlet to spark discussion, some shows conclude with an audience participation session.

“These artists are taking creative risks to enlighten audiences with the power of story and invention,” Lindsay says.

Britt Small, co-founder of Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville and an iconic figure locally in the development and guidance of theatre projects, is looking forward to an opportunity to explore her own voice in her one performance at UNO Fest. Bonhomme: A Male Renaissance in 32 Acts, is essentially a three-year work in progress that examines male archetypes, specifically the men in her own life growing up who were physically or emotionally absent.

“It made me wonder what happened to men from this generation, where at the same time women were going through revolution and keep going through revolution,” she says.

It’s not all serious subject matter at UNO Fest, though.

Sarah Hagen, a concert pianist who has played Carnegie Hall but experienced somewhat of a career crisis back in 2016, pokes fun at herself in Perk Up, Pianist!, a show she cleverly labels “sit-down comedy” – her playing is an integral part of the act.

“I think I’ve always kind of wanted to do it,” says Hagen, whose hometown is Courtenay. Growing up she loved to watch comic pianist Victoria Borge, as well as Carol Burnett. “What most motivated me is I had really burned out from playing concerts.”

Having already started crafting a different kind of act, Hagen’s self-effacing comedy show was simultaneously accepted for the Toronto Fringe Festival. The rest, as they say is history. “I came back full circle, it’s like a recital and then I give the audience a chance to see [my] thought bubble.”

For a full performance schedule and ticket information, visit intrepidtheatre.com/festivals/uno-fest/.

editor@mondaymag.com

Intrepid TheatreStage

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

Most Read