Ten years ago, Annie Dugan wasn’t sure that anyone would show up to Firefly Theatre’s inaugural annual fundraiser; at the time the fledgling aerial and circus performance company had only been around for about a year. But when that first incarnation of Let There Be Height sold out—quickly—Dugan realized Edmonton had an appetite for the airborne arts.
“I was looking at pictures all morning because we’re going to do a bit of a photo retrospective,” says Dugan, calling in between preparations for this year’s Let There Be Height. “I was just amazed because most of the people that were in that very first show, they’re all still here; a lot of them are on staff now, teaching or performing.”
Let There Be Height features a wide range of the skills that Firefly teaches through various workshops and classes: aerial silks and ropes, trapeze and hoop, aerial straps, contortion, juggling and other acrobatics.
“There’s a certain amount of equipment that we have to replace every year that’s boring—we get new ropes, new silks, add hardware,” Dugan says, adding that a single aerial silk costs around $300, while a rope is about $400. “But we always buy some cool things, too. At last year’s fundraiser I said to the audience that we’re raising money for an aerial cube and a ladder. And that’s what we did—and they’ll see it in the show this year.”
This year’s fundraiser, which has switched venues from La Cité to the Westbury Theatre at the Arts Barns, is based around a film noir theme, with a complete narrative running throughout, instead of the usual eclectic, cabaret-style collection of acts. Firefly has experimented with this structure in other shows, but this is the first time they’ve tried it with Let There Be Height. Dugan assures that audiences can expect the cast of nearly 50 to fulfil all the usual suspects of the genre: a hardnosed detective and a mysterious woman, a starlet and gangsters.
“The flying cube is functioning as a jail cell—we’ve got three criminals trying to break out of it, which will be 18 feet in the air,” Dugan says, explaining that each act corresponds to a major plot point in the story.
“I’m just marveling how much we’ve grown in 10 years,” she continues. “Circus is like a bug and if it bites you, you’re hooked.”
Wed, Jun 11 & Thu, Jun 12(7:30 pm; silent auction at 6:30 pm)
ATB Financial Arts Barns, $30 – $35