When we talk of innovation it often means the tech field and yet Victoria is a hotbed of theatrical creativity. When I ask people how many theatre companies there are in the city, most guess—ten, or twenty, or—adventurously—thirty. The real answer is—over SIXTY!
Victoria presents a unique milieu where current students and recent graduates of UVic’s Phoenix Theatre and the Canadian College of Performing Arts are mentored and encouraged by established artists along a broad continuum of expertise.
Events like the YOU Show at Intrepid Theatre, SKAMpede mobile performance festival along the Galloping Goose in July and the Belfry Theatre’s Incubator allow creators a chance to “test drive.”
The result has been explosive growth.
In any given year there are close to 100 productions (readings, workshops, festivals, main seasons) presented locally—not counting the Victoria Fringe Festival with over 50 shows. Ticket prices are some of the most reasonable in the country—for the price of a good martini or a couple of pints of craft beer, theatre-goers can tap into a wide range of experiences.
For my 2017 Arts Prospective I wanted to highlight a small sampling of events I’m looking forward to for this New Year. It will take more than one column to mention them all, so stay tuned for further announcements.
Besides producing the Victoria Fringe Festival, Intrepid Theatre curates Canada’s longest running festival of solo theatre—Uno Fest in May—, and one of the only queer theatre festivals—OUTstages in June, as well as presents visiting artists.
In early 2017 look for the return of American sketch comedy duo The Pajama Men in February, and Ronnie Burkett with his Daisy Theatre of Marionettes (a big hit in 2016) in April.
Acclaimed award-winning local comedian Mike Delamont brings a trio of shows to Victoria this year, from an intimate staging of The Devil (not yet seen locally) to a repeat performance of Mama’s Boy and a combined God is a Scottish Drag Queen 3 & 4 at the McPherson in late September.
Theatre SKAM moves into new digs, acquires Kate Rubin Studio and will now be offering drama classes.
Their ode to arts uber-fan Joan Mans, titled Joan, is featured during the Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival in March.
In celebration of Canada 150, expert puppeteer Tim Gosley and Theatre Inconnu, in partnership with The Fairfield Gonzales Community Association and Government House, present a Puppets for Peace 150 CANADA Birthday Bash in September.
Theatre Inconnu recently announced an all-Canadian season for 2017 with work by Linda Griffiths, Nancy Huston, Michael John Nimchuk, and David McPherson and Abigail Kitt.
The Belfry Theatre finishes off the season with more Canadian work as well—Gracie by Joan McLeod, Taking Off by Deborah Williams (co-creator of the hit Mom’s the Word), and the highly anticipated Alice Munro Stories.
Outpost 31 (Stories from the 100 Acre Wood, Casino Royale) and workingclasstheatre (Burn This, Hedda Gabbler) combine forces to present The Jazz P@ge New Play Readings –a new play reading series of new-play writing.
The first Wednesday of the month beginning in February at 2% Jazz at the Hudson (Fisgard Street Entrance).