Since launching in 2013, the rEvolver Festival has always embraced the new, the unconventional, and the adventurous. Using the motto “The Changing Stage”, its organizers at Upintheair Theatre are driven to give a platform to emerging artists and work that might not fit easily into traditional programming.
Notice that the team has now taken the word theatre right out of the festival title, emphasizing the interdisciplinary, form-pushing nature of the lineup this year.
Aside from Hip.Bang!’s innovative mashup of comedy and immersive theatre, here are two other strong productions on the roster that defy categorization as the fest takes over the entire Cultch site from next Wednesday (May 22) to June 2.
Contemporary Dance Solo
At the Culture Lab on May 24, 26, and 29 and June 2
SFU School for the Contemporary Arts grad Robert Azevedo says his one-man multimedia performance is inspired by all the relatives who have come to see him perform, only to be confused and mildly disappointed.
They were expecting something that looked more like a So You Think You Can Dance tryout than what actually transpired.
His solo is a way to finally give them what they want—kind of. In it, he attempts to pull off a sequence of 18 two- to three-minute routines—all culled from YouTube videos in which real kids, 7 to 17 years old, perform numbers for contemporary-dance competitions.
The videos play on a screen on-stage as he attempts to pull off their powerhouse moves—with increasing difficulty. “What these girls are doing are physical feats. They’re so strong!” he tells the Straight over the phone. “And there are so many tricks that are just so captivating, with flips and backbends. When I first watched them, I said, ‘How can they even do this?’ ”
Azevedo was about to find out, in what turned out to be a massive learning curve, despite his own considerable dance chops. “The piece began almost as a critique of this world,” he admits, “but as I worked on it, I gained a lot of respect for these dancers.”
Of course, Azevedo goes beyond mere mimicry in the piece; while he pays tribute to the prowess of the girls on-screen, he explores his own physical breaking points and the way dancers need to keep on smilin’ despite the pain.
“As a dancer I’m really interested in effort and endurance, and testing the limits and exploring failure,” he explains. “It really takes me back to the beginning, as a dancer when I was a teenager, and being in the studio and pushing myself. And when the teacher would yell at me.
“I keep telling everyone this is the hardest dance work I’ve ever done,” he adds.
At the Cultch Historic Theatre on May 22, 24, and 25
Cheyenne Mabberley and Katey Hoffman’s After Party Theatre makes a foray into feminist cabaret, satirical sketch comedy, and storytelling in its provocative new four-woman hit. Directed by Pippa Mackie, the show is by the same duo who tapped their inner drunk teenagers to bring you the massive 2016 Fringe hit The After After Party.
Here, they’re joined by Agnes Tong and Arggy Jenati in a no-holds-barred show that was born at Pi Theatre’s Provocateurs Presentation Series last year. The production marks a new direction for the comedy-theatre duo, who first bonded at Studio 58. Aside from having a lot less Fireball whisky and puking than The After After Party did, Lady Parts alternates between the hilariously fictional and the painfully real.
“It’s sketch comedy with true stories—every performance, each of us gets to tell a true story about our life,” Mabberley explains, “and then each night we’re bringing on a special guest.” Those are the first night’s burlesque artist, Scarlet Delirium, as well as standup comedian Jackie Hoffart, Nasty Women Improv, and drag artist Freaka Nature.
The After After Party may have been drawn from Mabberley and Hoffman’s more reckless teen experiences, but this is the first time the duo have been this candid about themselves. “For me, personally, it was really vulnerable to tell the true story,” Mabberley admits. “We never get to do plays where we connect with our own personal experience, because they’re all written by men, or directed by men.
“In mine, I talk a lot about body image and what it’s like in the industry being a fat woman,” she reveals, adding that other actors’ confessionals range from pube-waxing to a gynecologist visit.
One of the big themes they’ve hit upon? “We are constantly surprised about how women get information about their bodies,” Mabberley says.