After January’s Next Stage theatre festival, lovers of live performance work have another event to look forward to in February: the 32nd annual Rhubarb festival!
Established in 1979 in Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, the Rhubarb festival is back to tantalize and scandalize Toronto. This year, the festival runs for two weeks, from February 16 to 27, and the performances by more than 100 local and international artists cover such a wide range that it’s best to describe the event with the umbrella phrase “experimental queer arts fest”.
The works to be presented in Rhubarb fall under multiple disciplines: theatre, dance, music, performance art, poetry, video, animation, and more. Being a critic-free event, the emphasis at Rhubarb is exploration over perfection, challenge over convention. Out of the many applicants to the Rhubarb lineup, those who take artistic risks, stake new creative territories, and break preconceived notions of art, performance, and medium are most likely to be chosen. Over the years, the festival’s maverick spirit has attracted works by some of the most respected and recognized Canadian talents, such as Atom Egoyan, Daniel MacIvor, Don McKellar, Sky Gilbert, and Ann-Marie MacDonald.
2011 sees two new events added to the Rhubarb calendar:
- Mobile Works: for the first time in Rhubarb’s history, works will be performed outside of Buddies theatre. Inspired by flash mobs, subway parties, and pillow fight day, the shows will start off somewhere in the city and walk/dance/jump their way to Buddies as the final destination. An example is the work Please Copy Us Forever, which will feature a group of artists performing crazy advertisements inside the Yonge-Dundas intersection’s 30-second scramble crossing.
- Set It Off: a series of music-focused events that include live mixing and sampling, multimedia performances incorporating music, animation, new media, and choreography, as well as music performed with non-traditional instruments like found objects and kitchen appliances.
Here’s a quick preview of some of the works on offer for Rhubarb 2011:
- time 2b fame us. An “outlandish pastiche of stolen moments” from Madonna and Tom Cruise; created and performed by Ian Mozdzen and Mia van Leeuwen, dramaturgy by John Turner, with special guests Marcel Balfour and Michel Saint Hilaire.
- Detroit Time Machine. A multimedia performance that mixes original music, sculpture art, and video to tell the story of the rise and fall of industrial Detroit; created by Detroit Time Machine, directed by Erin Brandenburg, composed by Andrew Penner, Brian Poirier and Iner Souster, and performed by Gordon Bolan, Alan Penner, Andrew Penner, Brian Poirier and Iner Souster.
- And then there were 4… A show featuring a ghost, a monster, a ringmaster, and a “six-breasted shadow puppeteer named Ezili Sometimes”, combining theatre, dance, circus, and sculpture; created and performed by Anna Jane McIntyre.
Rhubarb 2011 runs from February 16 to 27. Tickets to the Rhubarb festival are $20 for an evening pass from Wednesday to Saturday, and PWYC (Pay What You Can) for Sunday. The Mobile Works performances are free.
For a full schedule of the Rhubarb festival and to purchase tickets, please visit Rhubarb’s official site.