Activating city spaces
Toward the end of June, things seen and heard in the bookstores, street corners and public parks of Edmonton are so bizarre and wonderful that they can be signs of heatstroke, acid trip or a series of eclectic art exhibits. Miraculously, it’s usually the latter.
Now in its sixth year, Found Festival features found space and site specific art performances throughout Edmonton. Site specific art exists in a fixed location, while found space art can be done almost anywhere.
Performances range from single person audiences to group affairs, and from children’s theatre to adult-only shows. Some have taken place in churches and others in alleys.
“I find that found space performance really needs to consider its relationship with the audience,” says the festival’s director, Beth Dart. “As soon as you remove yourself from a traditional venue, you kind of break all the rules immediately. So, I really look for projects that are taking that into consideration. How does that project engage the audience in a new and exciting way?”
This is the first year Dart is partnering with Nextfest director Ellen Chorley to present the Fresh AiR program. Fresh AiR—which stands for Artist in Residence—mentors and supports a local artist who will perform at both festivals. Larissa Pohoreski is the inaugural artist and will perform a piece entitled Before the River in the Edmonton river valley.
“It’s inspired by Ukrainian folklore and Ukrainian pagan rituals surrounding the summer solstice—those stories that your parents used to tell you to keep you out of the woods,” says Pohoreski. “A lot of it is stripping down the theatre magic, and relying on the artist’s ability to story tell and to engage with the audience.”
The 2017 lineup includes Brett Miles—an accomplished saxophonist and son of the late Edmonton Eskimos Grey Cup champion, Rollie Miles.
“We are hopeful to do a performance of Brett’s about his father’s career at the Rollie Miles Athletic Field,” says Dart.
Playwright and poet David Walker will be live broadcasting his life for the full four days as he composes a piece for the end of the festival. His performance will be broadcast both online and on a screen at the main festival grounds where there is live music and beer gardens.
There’s so much going on at Found Fest that even if you don’t plan on going to see a show, you might just run into one by accident.
“Something that’s beautiful about a lot of the pieces that come through Found Fest is that they’re out in the public, so quite often we’ll have passersby who just kind of join into the performances,” Dart says. “I think it gives the public a new way to look at spaces that they interact with all the time.”
Thur., Jun. 22 to Sun., Jun. 25
Various venues (main grounds at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park)