Cory Thibert brings his show Awkward Hug to the 2019 UNO Fest in Victoria. Photo by Pascal Huot

UnoFest: Pushing boundaries and challenging audiences for 22 years

Annual solo theatre festival kicks off 11 days of inspiring artistry on May 1

By Rae Porter

Monday Magazine contributor

May 1 marks the return of UNO Fest, an 11-day festival of electric, eclectic and empowered solo performances at the Intrepid Theatre Club and The Metro Studio.

Now in its 22nd year, the festival has grown – through hard work, a dedicated team and inspired programming – from a small acorn to a mighty oak, becoming a destination event for artists.

“Over the past 20 years, UNO Fest has earned a strong international reputation as one of the best festivals to launch artists’ touring work,” says Intrepid Theatre executive director, Heather Lindsay. “A festival that was created to give top fringe artists the ‘next’ stage, now has landed as a festival where the most exciting artists across Canada are launching their newest works.”

Michelle Thrush’s piece Inner Elder will offer UnoFest audiences an intimate journey of transformation. Courtesy Intrepid Theatre

The commitment of UNO Fest to push boundaries, take risks and share fierce, heartrending, life-affirming stories is more than admirable.

“We search for shows that are stunning and could not be replicated by someone else,” Lindsay continues, “These shows celebrate how art can inspire you, move you, challenge your perceptions and make you laugh.”

2019 is no exception when it comes to powerful, thrilling performances.

Ahmad Merree’s Adrenaline challenges the audience to think further and deeper about what it means to be a refugee in Canada. Certified, by Jan Derbyshire, is fearless, fierce and full of humorous grit. And there is magic to be found in My Dear Lewis by Kyle Loven. Additionally, this season brings Trophy to the city streets; a living monument comprised of glowing tents each inviting you to step into a different story.

UNO Fest is also presenting two new pieces, REALBOY and HEATSEEKER, as part of its UNO Works Series, featuring local pieces in development. “Local artists are storming our stages,” Lindsay exclaims. “Victoria is booming and so is the artistic community … it is an honour to showcase and invest in Victoria’s local artists’ unique voices and daring stories.”

Also generating much buzz this season is Michelle Thrush’s Inner Elder; an intimate, enchanting journey of transformation that calls on the past to guide. A Calgary-based, multi award-winning Cree artist, Thrush builds on her own gently heartbreaking memories to weave a compelling tale that finds humour a most potent way to heal.

“I am a true believer in using laughter as a medicine,” Thrush states. “There are some funny people in my family and through the hardest times there has always been laughter; it’s a healing medicine.”

Thrush is a master storyteller and Inner Elder is a lesson in just how extraordinarily powerful storytelling can be. “We all carry our own stories and sometimes we share them with each other,” she says. “I am truly honoured to be able to share mine with you.”

For UNO Fest ticket package and schedule information, visit intrepidtheatre.com or stop in at Ticket Rocket, 1050 Meares St. (Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)



editor@mondaymag.com

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