A man plays a keyboard while a woman in dark glasses strikes a pose
Elysse Cheadle and Elliot Vaughan in Soft Face and Featherless | Photo: Amy Jo Espetveidt

IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists

Expanded and extended, see multidisciplinary performances by more than 150 artists

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Price $15 - $60
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IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists is back and bigger than ever.

Supporting and showcasing emerging artists in all disciplines, those who take part often go on to establish exciting careers in Calgary and beyond. The annual festival offers a great chance to get more familiar with their work and the programming this year looks amazing.

For instance take Soft Face and Featherless. A quick preview of Elysse Cheadle and Elliot Vaughan’s entry leaves you wanting more, much more. Inspired by E.E. Cummings’ poem It is funny, you will be dead some day, and several personal encounters with birds, their piece is an exorbitant tale about being flung from the 1001th floor of a hospital.

Soft Face and Featherless is a show that we’ve made up together,” explains Vaughan. “I’m a musician—a composer by trait—and Elysse is a theatre creator—directing, creating, devising, and when the need arises, performing.”

Being presented as part of the theatre series, Soft Face and Featherless incorporates music with surrealist melodrama and often has a poetry slam-esque feel. During the festival there are also dance, interdisciplinary, improv, reading and site-specific series to take in.

“Don’t just come out for one,” says Cheadle. “The shows are all bundled together, so come out and spend a night.”

Featuring collaborations with a number of innovative and local artistic groups—Major Matt Mason’s Wildfire Playwriting Competition, Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre, Femme Wave Artist Festival, and improv company The Kinkonauts—the festival truly highlights the bleeding edge of theatre, music, dance and more.

One of the most intriguing offerings is the reading series. It offers audiences a chance to see new theatrical works in development and are pay-what-you-can. With Major Matt Mason returning to once again host the Wildfire Playwriting Competition (WPC), you can see readings from this year’s winning play, Katie Sly’s Serenity Wild, as well as runner-up The Exhibition of Extraordinary Oddities and Living Freaks, written by Chelsea Woolley. There are also two staged readings of local plays Feminazis by Megan Baldry and Absurdable Universe by Kyle Hinton that should be high on your list.

IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists PosterAlso new this year is the launch of the IGNITE! Club, that will transform the West Village Theatre into an arts-inspired nightclub full of roving entertainers, installations, burlesque, poetry, stand-up, music performances and much more.

“I think the festival is going to be a shmorgishborg of amazing art and there’s going to be something for everyone,” says Festival Director Charles Netto. “It’s a chance to see artists on the cusp of really blowing up and becoming amazing professional artists. We’re a small stepping stone on that journey and it’s a great window for audiences to be able to peek in at these artists before they’ve totally taken off.”

The 2016 IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists runs June 21 to 26, 2016, at the Pumphouse Theatres (2140 Pumphouse Ave. SW) and West Village Theatre (2007 10th Ave. SW). Single tickets are $15 with discount passes available. For more information call 403.221.3708 or visit sagetheatre.com.