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Norah Paton in Burnt. Photo by Christopher Snow.

Margo MacDonald, Norah Paton among 2017 undercurrents festival’s 8-show lineup

By Greggory Clark on January 5, 2017


Margo MacDonald in The Elephant Girls. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

Margo MacDonald in The Elephant Girls. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

This year’s undercurrents festival, to be held in February, will be headlined by repeats, solo shows among an eclectic 8-show lineup.

The nine-day festival, to be staged for the third time at Arts Court Theatre on Daly Avenue, will include shows that are by turns world premieres, reruns or Ottawa firsts. The festival’s most celebrated performer is the Ottawa-born, Toronto-based Margo MacDonald, whose play The Elephant Girls swept the 2015 Prix Rideau Awards (Outstanding New Work, Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Direction) and the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival (Critics’ Pick, Best of Fest, Outstanding Production) where the play’s world premiere sold out an entire run, plus holdover performances.

Among the festival’s world premieres are two Ottawa productions. Burnt is Norah Paton’s piece drawn verbatim from conversations at Burning Man (opens Feb. 9, 9pm). An early iteration appeared at the 2014 Fresh Meat: DIY Theatre Fest, and excerpts were performed at a new plays reading event in the 2016 undercurrents program. Readied for the 2017 festival, Burnt is now being billed as a world premiere. The second world premiere, Un-Countried, is a Stéphanie Turple script being produced by Theatre 4.669 (opens Feb. 10, 7pm) and directed by Kevin Orr.

Toronto artist Sébastien Heins will present his Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera, a soaring solo show about twin brothers, CashMoney and MoneyPussy, brothers with little in common but their desperation to rise to the heights of hip hop stardom (opens Feb. 8, 9pm).

Ghost River Theatre, from Calgary, are putting up Tomorrow’s Child – a sci-fi adapted from the short story by Ray Bradbury (opens Feb. 15, 9pm). Theirs is reimagined as an intense audio experience for a blindfolded audience.

Two shows play in the festival’s late-night series. Pay what you can for admission to both shows. Faster Than The Speed of Dating is a wordless comedy – which premiered at Fresh Meat in 2014 and went to the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival – created and performed by Madeleine Hall and Kevin Reid (opens Feb. 16, 10:30pm). Vovk by Lana Kouchnir (opens Feb. 9, 10:30pm) is an award-winning theatre piece described as a “coming-of-age queer femme wolf tale that follows Sasha… becoming a modern witch.”

Single tickets cost $15–25, including tax, and are available at An evening pass (two shows) is available for $32 and the full Festival Pass (five shows) costs $75, all in. Students pwyc at the door.