The Living Things International Arts festival is a celebration of the sensuality, pleasure, and power of live performance.
The third annual festival runs from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9 and includes performances from the United Kingdom, the USA, Montreal, Vancouver, and the Okanagan Valley.
“It’s connected to the idea of puppetry, where you have objects come to life. The festival is focused on theatrical devices, the kinds of things we do on stage which are kind of (magical), I call it, when something comes alive,” said artistic director Neil Cadger. “Also, the idea of living things to me is philosophically interesting of what is animated and what is not… the festival is also about the place we live in and things we surround ourselves with.”
The festival falls in line with two others in Western Canada, one in Vancouver and Calgary, so the festivals are able to share performers. It’s set in the heart of winter, as Cadger said there’s not much going on for people in Kelowna.
Cadger is passionate about the performing arts and said there’s a need for the live audience to connect the people onstage.
“I think the live presence being in the room with people sharing the same experience is something that we need. The more time we spend in the weird public solitude of the cellphone… I think we need to balance that.”
For first-timers, he recommends the MacBeth Muet, which runs Jan. 19 and 20, as the Francophone group will tell the story of Macbeth through objects without words.
“It’s very funny and at times, absolutely disturbing. It’s funny what you can do with objects sometimes that you just can’t do without people,” Cadger said.
Ideas Robert! by Candice Roberts for the kids is very interactive, he said. Four shows are scheduled between Jan. 18 and 19.
“The things that the children get to see that comes through the school system, can sometimes be really good, but sometimes… it can be not particularly engaging for students (in theatre classes,) and it’s important for children to see stuff that’s playful and entertaining and exciting. The kids show we had last year was amazing and the children were so delightful and the word delight, it’s getting a sense of collective delight is so rare.”
Throughout the festival, live, free public installations will take place in the FINA Gallery in the Creative and Critical Studies building on campus at UBCO, and student and faculty exhibitions will be at the Alternator Gallery.
For the first time Living Things will also be offering performance workshops led by visiting international artists: Politics in the Room, led by Palmyra performers Bert & Nasi (UK), makes the stage a space for artistic and political negotiation; Naked Comedy led by Deanna Fleysher (USA) explores the performers’ unique connection with the audience, the bravery required to be vulnerable and the gratification that comes from letting go. For information and registration, as well as the festival lineup, visit the Living Things website at www.LivingThingsFestival.com.