Chautauqua is back – with a new format and a new date. Chautauqua Independent Play Festival is styled after the many fringe festivals that take place across Canada. The plays are approximately an hour long, with a quick setup and strike between shows. Content is fresh and new – often tested on only one stage before coming to The Lyric.
At the end of the 2018 festival, the team decided to make a move to late May to attract audiences who otherwise leave town in the summer. Artistic Director Gordon McCall noted that The Montreal Fringe Festival also starts at the end of May, “So we’re in good company.”
The festival opens on May 30th with the Lyric Theatre’s Postcards at the Speed of Light: Powered by PechaKucha. This 60-minute whirlwind event will feature eight lightning-fast presentations of personal adventures, interests and discoveries in the form of 20 images and 20 excerpts of dialogue by some daring Swift Current residents who will share their stories for the very first time in front of an audience. It promises to be a highly-entertaining and suitably unpredictable show. The visual component is comprised of 20 slides, with each appearing on the screen for only 20 seconds before automatically advancing to the next slide. The presenter has to keep up with the slides.
“There’s no do-over, no ‘back, please’,” says McCall. “You just keep moving forward. I went to one last year in Medicine Hat. It was amazing, the varying experiences and subjects that people could share in just 400 seconds.”
Postcards shows May 30th at 7 p.m. and June 1st at 5 p.m.
Returning to Chautauqua is Val Marie’s Madonna Hamel in Mother’s Apron.
“We are very excited to have Madonna back. The audience loved this show last year, and this freshly-revised version promises to be even better.” Hamel’s four-character journey through the pockets of her mother’s apron plays on May 30th at 9 p.m. and returns to close the festival on Sunday, June 2nd at 5 p.m.
The lone performance on Friday, May 31st is Regina-based theatre troupe, Listen to Dis’ Community Arts Organization who returns to The Lyric with The Other Ordinary, an “uproarious romp through disabled and abled experience [that] will shine a new light on how humans interrupt, intersect and ultimately transform one another, through the acceptance of difference.” Friday’s show starts at 7 p.m. and will run again on Saturday, June 1st at 2 p.m.
The Swift Current premiere of The Watch, by Saskatoon playwright Jenna Berenbaum, plays at 7 p.m. on June 1st and then again Sunday, June 2nd at 2 p.m. The two-person play, about a couple who becomes obsessed by a smart watch competition with their neighbours, was originally seen by Artistic Director, Gordon McCall, at Saskatoon’s Short Cuts Play Festival. “As soon as I saw this hilarious play that speaks so cleverly to today’s tech-savvy lifestyle, I knew we had to have it for our festival,” exclaimed Gordon.
Chautauqua runs May 30-31, and June 1-2. The full schedule of shows is posted on the Lyric’s website and Facebook pages, as well as on posters around Swift Current. Tickets are available for purchase at Pharmasave. Individual tickets are $12 per show and a Festival Pass for all four shows is $40.