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Wednesday, 08 June 2011 14:54

Chautauqua will offer an array of entertainment spectacles

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By John R. Statton  — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What the heck is a Chautauqua and what does it have to do with entertainment?

 “It started around Lake Chautauqua in New York state, and it was basically a travelling show based on education, enlightenment, (and) entertainment,” said Rachel Wormsbecher, festival organizer of Swift Current’s edition.

“It was kind of like a circus in that everything would happen in a tent: For three or four days there would be lectures, plays, preachers, musicians — you name it. Then they would pack up and head to the next town.”

The fourth annual Chautauqua Festival returns to the Lyric Theatre, bringing back the aesthetic and feel of old time performance and theatre.

“The reason that we had to call it a Chautauqua was because fringe festival is patented, and fringe festival is un-juried which means you have to accept the first people who apply or do it as a lottery, and we wanted to pick the plays,  so technically it is a fringe, although we couldn’t call it that,” said Wormsbecher.

All of the plays in this year’s festival will be in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival next year. The shows are currently travelling the western Canadian fringe festival circuit.

“To make it really unique we get all sorts of local openers — singer/ songwriters, poets, dancers, and last year we had a magician which was really cool. Every year I try to get a juggler, and I’m still looking for one,” she said. “It’s a little bit different than the Open Stage, and we look outside of the box for performers when it comes to Chautauqua.”

This year’s offering includes Little Room, Doc Faustus, Sofa So Good, African Folktales, and pick of the 2009 Vancouver Fringe Festival Under the Mango Tree.

Swift Current’s location on the Trans-Canada allows for the best in Canadian fringe theatre to travel the city as they pass between the various other festivals.

“We’re a day’s drive from Winnipeg, or if your going to Ottawa or Vancouver it’s not that far out of the way.”

Tickets are $10 per show, $50 for a festival pass, and $15 for the July 8 double bill.

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