An eclectic mix of themes hits Calgary stages this month, with dispositions ranging from sunny side up to dark and stormy.
If you prefer your humour as dark as black coffee, there’s plenty on offer. Gracie explores the secrets of a polyamorous Mormon society in small-town BC. Likewise, Theatre Calgary’s adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns is hardly going to be all sunshine and rainbows.
Finally for the truly obscene, Spurt of Blood comes with the equivalent of an ‘R’ rating — but we’re pretty sure that’s not going to deter you.
But in case your dreams are full of sunshine and unicorns, there are some great gems this month. Comic books and musicals collide in Crime Does Not Pay, or follow a clueless-Brit-turned-secret-service-agent around in Our Man in Havana.
Whatever your preference, go the extra mile and commit to attending at least one show this month. In tumultuous times like these, spending on your local arts scene remains one of the soundest investments around.
Book of Mormon opened the floodgates to renewed interest (okay, scrutiny) in the Church of Latter Day Saints, so this new Canadian play comes at a perfect time to capitalise on the trend. Go beyond the headlines through the eyes of a young girl, in this ‘inspired by real-life’ look at an isolated polygamous community in Bountiful, British Columbia. By award-winning playwright Joan MacLeod, Gracie will focus on a personal struggle between the outside world and conformity to a community’s traditions.
Where: Martha Cohen Theatre, Arts Commons – 215 8 Avenue SE
When: February 28 to March 18
Tickets: At Arts Commons, $25-$62
Gorgeous songs and explosive ideas mesh together in this brand new musical, about an aspiring comic book writer in the 1940s. Artist Bob hits his stride after sexing up his stories with ‘babes and blood’, after falling for a lounge singer with an abusive ex-husband. Does art mimic life, or the other way around? Find out next time on the exciting adventures of Crime Does Not Pay!
Where: Arts Commons, Engineered Air Theatre – 225 8th Avenue SE
When: March 2 to 5, and March 7 to 11
Tickets: At Arts Commons, $25
Based on the book of the same name, and the second adaptation of the series to stage by Theatre Calgary, A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in war-torn Afghanistan. Unlike 2013’s production of The Kite Runner, the show is interwoven around the lives of two women, brought together by fate and cruelty.
Where: Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons – 240 9th Avenue SE
When: March 7 to April 1
Tickets: At Theatre Calgary, $55-$121
1950’s Cuba. Clueless Englishman. British Secret Service. What could go wrong? When offered a fine position as their “man in Havana,” Jim Wormold has to say yes. This hilarious, fast-paced romp through the world of espionage is March’s offering from Vertigo Theatre.
Where: The Playhouse – 115 9th Avenue SE
When: March 7 to April 1
Tickets: At Vertigo Theatre, $29-$61
Up-and-coming choreographer Virginie Brunelle hails from Montreal, where she’s making an impact with her romantic yet crude style, an ongoing investigation of human relations. The resulting work is distinct and frequently unforgettable, with performers marring classical choreography with jagged rhythms and raw gestures.
Where: Theatre Junction GRAND – 608 1 Street SW
When: March 8 to 11
Tickets: At Vendini, $45
You may not know it, but Calgary has a long and distinguished history for puppetry. The festival seeks to bring the love for the art under one roof, from traditional puppetry techniques to new creations. Check out their free shows and all-ages offerings, but also keep an eye out for mature fare in ways you’d never expected from puppets. Our money’s on Red Leather Yellow Jacket, featuring new multicultural takes on clowns — a second-generation Chinese Canadian and a Metis-Cree, to be exact.
Where: Various Locations
When: March 16 to 19
Tickets: At Arts Commons, $25-$38
This Calgary premiere of cabaret artist Sharron Matthews is all about the music. Matthews’ reimagines her tales of heartbreak, obsession, awe and love through the lens of a wide variety of catchy musical influences: Elton John, The Police, Blondie, Little Big Town, Rick Springfield, The Killers, Beyonce and Cyndi Lauper. Come spend your lunch hour in the most lively way possible, and return to the office with a bounce in your step.
Where: Lunchbox Theatre – #160 115 9th Avenue SE
When: March 20 to April 8
Tickets: At Lunchbox Theatre, $25
With only 14 audience members per performance, Theatre Encounter continues their pursuit of a ‘theatre of cruelty’. If you love theatre that comes with warning labels attached, then Spurt of Blood is the visceral experience for you. Generally considered ‘unstageable’ by most, the one-hour performance will be steeped in sex, violence and images of metaphysical horror. Or, y’know, otherwise known as the good stuff.
Where: Theatre Junction Grand – 608 1st Street SW
When: March 22 to 25
Tickets: At Vendini, $25-$30
It’s exciting to see that we’re now in the 34th year of the annual Calgary Region One Act Play Festival. Original works reign supreme over four evenings, from a variety of local artists. Whether it’s drama or comedy, contemporary or classic, there’s something for everyone at the One-Act Play Festival.
Where: Pumphouse Theatre – 2140 Pumphouse Avenue SW
When: March 22 to 25
Tickets: At Pumphouse Theatre, $12-$45
This highly-acclaimed play on faith and queer identity is being performed for one night only, at a small church in Foothills. For many, the drive will be more than worth it, as the semi-autobiographical work is a staged reading which delves into the complexities of religion and sexual orientation. Flipping the script on the audience, the second act of oblivion opens up into an honest and raw discussion on the themes of the play.
Where: Red Deer Lake United Church – 96187 – 178 Avenue West, Foothills (Just west of 37th street on 22x)
When: March 25
Tickets: At Red Deer Lake United Church, $20