Calgary arts festival mixes film, performance, multimedia and live music

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What’s on the minds of emerging Calgary artists?

That’s the subtext of Ignite, Sage Theatre’s annual festival of emerging artists, which kicks off Wednesday night and runs through Saturday at the Pumphouse Theatres.

This year’s multi-media and interdisciplinary festival combines film, performance, visual arts and live music, featuring a wide range of artists including Michelle Thrush of Making Treaty 7 who, in collaboration with Sandi Somers, has created the seven short films that make up Istotsi: the land we live on.

Students at Dr. EP Scarlett High School created First daywhich they describe as “a comedic adventure into the world of workplace conflict, customer service and coffee”.

There are From brass, nor stonewhich is an exploration of the complex relationships we have with historical statues, and how that might change if statues could respond.

There is also a multidisciplinary showcase, a playwright’s garagea live performance of Stargazer Podcast and a closing cabaret featuring Zenon and guitarist Jake Levesque.

What’s on the minds of emerging Calgary artists?

“DEFYING THE STRUCTURE”

Overall, Ignite features seven different productions, presented by festival producer Alexandra Prichard, that give Calgary audiences a taste of what’s obsessing young artists in 2022.

“Almost every project this year challenges the structure of society in some way,” Sage art director Jason Mehmel said in an email. “The readings are, the Statue project does this, it can be said that Istotsi also questions or challenges structures by making space and promoting new voices.

star gazer is also a kind of challenge, a post-pandemic reaction to doing theater. So many people have gotten into podcasting, and a podcast is coming back on the scene,” he said.

“It wasn’t exactly organized as a festival of challenging society, but that’s kind of what it is. Or less confrontational than the ‘challenge’ is that this festival is about emerging artists of today who engage with the city and society and ask questions about what they find there.”

For Prichard, the dominant theme could be described as a quest for self-understanding in a trauma-laden world.

“Both texts in our series of staged readings deal with spousal abuse and other domestic violence,” she said in an email to CTV News.

First day and star gazer have a number of non-binary characters and performers, and Statues and Istotsi both explore themes related to place, history and colonization. Two pieces in the interdisciplinary series explore immigration and the search for a new sense of belonging at home.

“So basically there’s a lot of exploration of self-identity and healing.”

For more information on Ignite, visit the Sage Theater website.

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