Arts Dance Theatre

Performance art in unlikely places

On the hunt for art in unusual places // Nico Laroche-Humby
On the hunt for art in unusual places // Nico Laroche-Humby

You might have thought it was just a group of weirdos on the street—and if you saw the show that got stopped by the police, that’s understandable.

“There’s an element of the unknown and a chaotic element that I love, but is also scary,” Andrew Ritchie says. “All the rules are gone; anyone could interrupt the piece at any moment; there’s a lot more unknowns that could happen.”

Ritchie is one of the creators of the Found Festival, a site-specific, multidisciplinary festival entering its fourth year. Curated by the Common Ground Arts Society, Found Fest places film, storytelling, improv, dance and theatre into little nooks and crannies throughout Old Strathcona (and this year, downtown as well).

This year’s Found Festival includes an improv collaboration with Improvaganza and Norwegian improv troupe Det Andre Teatret, a performance with only one audience member per show, a dance piece by Mile Zero Dance on the Cloverdale Footbridge, and a live, nonstop reading of the unclassified CIA report on torture. The coordinators have also added a beer garden in their home base location at Dr Wilbert McIntyre (Gazebo) Park and a festival app to help audience members find each performance.

Found Festival originated in response to the inaccessibility of venues, especially to young and emerging artists. But as awareness of both the festival and site-specific work in general has grown, this type of art has continued to transform.

“You can make anything a venue,” Ritchie says. “And now you see it everywhere: there’s huge site-specific shows happening in New York like Sleep No More, in London and all over Canada—like [immersive musical-theatre piece] Brantwood just happened in Toronto. There’s tons of it happening here in Edmonton. It’s really clearly hitting companies of all backgrounds and disciplines and mandates. I think in some ways it feels like it’s very much the direction of where theatre and art is going.

“I think one of the beauties about it is the element that anyone could come across it at any moment,” he continues. “We’ve had homeless people watch our shows and enjoy them and laugh, and we’ve had people come across the show and had no idea the festival was happening, had never seen a theatre show, never gone into an art gallery, but enjoyed it and stayed and watched it and found out about the festival. Those moments are so enlightening and inspiring to be a part of.”

Thu, Jun 25 – Sun, Jun 28
Various locations and times
Schedule available at
commongroundarts.ca

 

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