That’s right! We got a festival that takes that cliched term to its literal level. Across Whyte Avenue in the City of Edmonton, we were treated to the Found Festival, a unique theatre festival celebrating pop-up plays. No matter which play you attend, you’re guaranteed a unique experience.
If you were walking across the Avenue between June 22-25, you could stumble on a unique play from the unlikeliest place. Walk into Wee Book Inn and an author could write you either brief poetry or a short play for a small donation (The Author Will See You Now). Step into an Alleyway Patio and you get a bioplay of a woman’s struggles in Colombia during a civil war (Three Ladies), as told by Marena; a group of Colombian Cumbia dancers. Walk across Saskatchewan Avenue and treat yourself to a live dance, a clown show, a concert and a duel within an hour(Whatwazzat!?)
The plays themselves are just as unique as the locations. One is a series of dances taking place across a block (As A Body). Another is a biopic about sports athlete Rollie Miles (Once a Champion, Always a Champion). The one that stood out to me the most was Glass Washroom. Set in the Backstage Theatre washrooms, writer/performer Julie Ferguson describes the anxieties of being trans non-binary person, with bathrooms serving the theme. From the uncomfortable feeling of being called “she” or being mistaken for a man because of they’re wardrobe, they bear they’re soul for the audience.
The most notable standouts of the festival are the Admit One plays. Unlike most plays, these plays perform for an audience of one per performance. This kind of experience seems to immerse the audience member to the point of being a character. The most powerful one is Strife. Carrying a candle, you play a friend of a murdered aboriginal activist. You meet with your friend’s mourning brother Nathan (Russell Keewatin), whose complimenting revenge on the extremists who killed his brother.
I’m surprised Pop-Up Plays hadn’t caught on yet. I’ve seen many artists draw inspiration from various locations. Imagine them using those locations. This could open more opportunities for experimentation, as the Found Festival proves. If it leads to a writer live chats himself writing a play within 72 hours, then performs it the next day (Productive Time), just imagine the possibilities.