Introduction to Winterruption

Denise Wall, the president of the Southwest Cultural Development Group (Lyric Theatre) board of directors, provided remarks during the announcement of the new Winterruption festival, Nov. 1.

The Lyric Theatre is starting a new festival to lift people’s spirit in the dead of winter.

The three-day Winterruption festival will bring a variety of entertainment to Swift Current from Jan. 23-25.

The new festival was announced during a media event at the Lyric Theatre, Nov. 1. Lyric Theatre Artistic and Executive Director Gordon McCall said this short, very powerful festival will put a smile on the face of winter.

“It’s theatre, music, dance, spoken word, and in this first iteration of it, it’s magic,” he mentioned. “There’s many events that we can bring here that are all connected to the performing arts, and in the middle of winter, what a wonderful break it'll be to come and see it.”

The festival will kick off with Postcards at the Speed of Light on Jan. 23. It will feature lightning-fast presentations of personal stories and adventures by people from the community, which will be shared for the first time in front of an audience.

“We did this show once earlier this season, and it was a huge hit,” he said. “It could be a vacation, it could be anything in their past, it could be any number of things. They're free to choose the story.”

Every presentation will consist of 20 images that will each appear on the screen for only 20 seconds, and the challenge for the presenter is to keep up with the slides.

“The funny is when they can't catch up to the slides, because they want to say too much,” he said. “Audiences loved it and we think it will be a wonderful second occasion to do the show and we're inviting people from the community, if they'd like to participate, to get in touch with us, and we'll set it up.”

The second night of the festival on Jan. 24 will feature The Gift, a magic show by Calgary master magician Derek Selinger. The show presents the essence of the art of magic and illusion, pure sleight of hand, and mind reading.

Selinger made an appearance in Swift Current this past summer as a performer during the opening ceremony for the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games.

“He's quite wonderful to see and everybody loved him at the Games,” McCall said. “We thought why not do an entire magic show. We do all sorts of theatrical events. So this could be something that's quite unique and we don't have that often in our community. We're really thrilled to welcome Derek.”

The Lyric Theatre is partnering with Blenders Music for the festival’s final concert on Jan. 25, which will feature The Original Wailers. The band continues the musical legacy of Bob Marley and The Wailers, and it will perform reggae classics as well as their own hits.

The Original Wailers received a Grammy nomination in 2013 and it still has a direct connection to Bob Marley through band member Al Anderson, who was the lead guitarist for Marley in the 1970s.

The Winterruption festival in Swift Current is the result of a new partnership between the Lyric Theatre, the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon, and the Regina Folk Festival. The three partners have received a grant from Tourism Saskatchewan that will be split between the three venues.

The Lyric Theatre will additionally use a portion of its annual grant funding from the Saskatchewan Arts Board for this festival and it is also receiving sponsorship support from S3 Enterprises, Silverline Construction, and Back in 5 Emporium.

Winterruption has been taking place for several years in Saskatoon and Regina. The Lyric Theatre received the opportunity to become part of the circuit when the executive director of the Broadway Theatre approached McCall with the idea to get involved.

“The idea was, let's spread this to our region of the province basically, and then eventually we'll probably hook up with Alberta and maybe Manitoba and be a part of a big circuit,” McCall said. “The idea of having a circuit that we are attached to for entertainment like this is pretty special, because we’ve got all sorts of entertainment options, but also you’re linking up with like-minded partners, and sharing ideas about how it can contribute in your own community, and hopefully bring people to our community.”

Artists will sometimes be shared between the three Winterruption locations, for example The Original Wailers will perform in Swift Current and Saskatoon, but each festival will also have a unique line-up of performers.

“Part of what we’re doing here also is we want to celebrate our local artists,” he said. “So I want to always have a spot for our local artists to be part of this festival.”

The Lyric Theatre started two other new performing arts events during the past year with the Sparks in the Dark play series and the Great Southwest Shakespeare Festival.

“It's all part of a vision to balance the programming between music, dance, theatre, education, spoken word and other performing arts events,” he said. “We become the hub of a wheel, so that if we throw the spokes out from this centre around us for miles in our region, that people will come to the Lyric, because there is such a good variety of entertainment options for them.”

McCall is confident that the addition of this festival in the community will not draw away support from other events. He noted that the Great Southwest Shakespeare Festival drew attendance from a wide area. The intention is to attract people from a large area to come to Swift Current to see a show.

“In our community we’re noticing that we’re amplifying more engagement in our theatre, but also I venture to say it will amplify more engagement in other events in our community,” he said. “I’ve had that question given to me throughout my entire career about will they drop this to do that. No, they have choice, and in one week they may want to see two or three things, in another week, they don't want to see anything, but somebody else wants to see it. I don't think there's anything healthier than to have a very vibrant variety of opportunity for audiences.”

Tickets for the Lyric Theatre’s Winterruption festival will soon be available at Pharmasave. Tickets prizes are $25 for Postcards at the Speed of Light, $35 for The Gift, and $45 for The Original Wailers. Tickets for The Original Wailers will also be available online at Eventbrite.com. A festival pass for all three shows are available for $90.

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