By Stephanie Swensrude
Found Festival returned to Edmonton July 8 to 11 for its tenth annual run.
After a mostly virtual 2020 festival, the organizers and performers were excited to be back in person, creating intimate artistic exchanges in unexpected places.
In Puppet Pub Crawl, created by the festival’s artist-in-residence, Even Gilchrist, audiences made their way down 81 Ave in the Old Strathcona area to seven different performance spaces.
Dill Prusko is part of the team that devised the show. They hosted Next Fest in June 2021 and work regularly at Grindstone Theatre, which is situated along the Puppet Pub Crawl route.
Prusko said Old Strathcona is a great place for Found Festival.
“This is the perfect place to tell a story because the environment itself is so rich,” said Prusko.
Prusko also thought that the festival may open people up to a new way of looking at theatre.
“Because it is Found Theatre as well as puppetry, I think it will be a completely different experience than sitting in a theatre watching an actor act,” said Prusko.
“There are so many different ways to tell a story.”
Also on at the festival was Josh Langedouc’s play, ‘Civil Blood: a Treaty Story.’ The play was a staged reading that took place at River Lot 11, near the Kinsmen recreation centre. The play explored rising tensions between the European settlers and Indigenous tribes towards the end of the fur trade. It also featured a sizzling tale of star-crossed lovers.
If you were looking for an “intimate, COVID-conscious re-entry” into the live theatre world, you may have headed to the Westbury Arts Barns. ‘This is the Story of the Child Ruled by Fear’ featured gentle audience interaction as the performers and audience remembered what it’s like to create in a room together again.
Another opportunity to be creative and reflective with others came with Letter to Audiences. Natércia Napoleão and April MacDonald Killins ran this three-stage project. In stage one, Edmonton theatre lovers took a survey on equity. The results of which were used to make recommendations to theatre companies.
Next, there was an opportunity to listen to the pilot episode of a new podcast exploring equity in our city’s theatre scene.
In the final stage, theatre patrons took a seat with Killins and Napoleão, along with other community members, to hold a solutions-based discussion on where to go next. (The Nugget will have a full write-up in the coming weeks on the results of this experience).
For a more casual experience, there was the Backstage Theatre. There were nightly live music performances and a beer garden to soak up the beautiful summer sun.
All in all, this was a great way to jump back into the summer festival life. The full line-up and more information can be found at https://commongroundarts.ca/found/.