The 10th anniversary of undercurrents brings six shows and new plays to life at Arts Court Theatre.
Opening the festival on February 5, 2020, is St. John’s Newfoundland’s David Power, with his extraordinary show Crippled; which made national and international headlines for being denied entry into the United States. Although Crippled was booked for performances in New York and California, Power’s team saw their visa applications unexpectedly denied. “It was a big let down, a real insult to myself, my work, the disability community,” he told CBC News at the time.
Ottawa’s Aplombusrhombus is performing their highly-praised clown show about Alzheimer’s disease, which premiered at the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival and earned co-creators Mitchel Rose and Madeleine Hall the festival’s Emerging Artist Award. Their wordless play, Cardinal, is a physical piece performed by two actors who represent Memory and Disease, respectively. This revised production includes a live music soundtrack and new set design.
Sarah Waisvisz’s new work, Heartlines, is a look back at Nazi-fighters and queer French artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, starring Margo MacDonald. Perhaps a source of inspiration for the playwright, there happens to be a show on display at the Ottawa Art Gallery which features Cahun and Moore’s work. Waisvisz’s play opens on February 6 and the OAG exhibition runs until February 9, giving audiences an opportunity to see both in one visit to Arts Court.
The local content keeps flowing with Monica Bradford-Lea and Nicholas Leno’s comedy Beth-Anne, Litera Pro’s satirical play Home Sweet… Something, and theatre decentered’s brutally honest look at Ottawa’s history with the LGBTQ+ community, Honey Dew Me, which premiered as a short play at Fresh Meat in 2017. All three were developed during residencies in the Ottawa festival’s under development program, which provides theatre artists with rehearsal and creation space, mentorship and technical support.
The lineup includes former locals, so the Ottawa connections are still quite strong. Now based in Vancouver, Cory Thibert revisits Ottawa with AWKWARD HUG, a funny and heartbreaking autobiographical solo show about his family’s experience in (and out) of an Affordable Housing Unit they are told to leave (for no good reason). Thibert is the son of parents with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Another Ottawa expat, Nick Di Gaetano, returns to town with Unbridled Futurism: A Sci-Fi Comedy Rock Show, which appears to be a rewrite or revision of his fun 2017 Fringe show that won an honourable mention for Best Performance from the Apt613 review crew.
Victoria’s SNAFU, the creators of Little Orange Man and Snack Music—both popular undercurrents and Fringe plays—will teach you “how survive when the end of the world is about to go down” in Kitt & Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future which premiered here at the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival.
Keeping with tradition since undercurrents moved to Arts Court in 2015, New Play Tuesday will offer local playwrights an opportunity to read new works and hear feedback from excited audience members.
Visit undercurrentsfestival.ca for the complete schedule and lineup. Undercurrents takes place at Arts Court (2 Daly Ave) from February 5–15, 2020. Admission is based on a “Pick Your Price” model, where you buy tickets for $5, $20, $50 or $75, no questions asked. Arts Court is accessible from the Nicholas Street entrance and the Ottawa Art Gallery entrances at 10 Daly Avenue and 50 Mackenzie King Bridge. While not the nearest options to the theatre venue, Arts Court has accessible and gender-neutral washrooms in the building.