Coming Up at Ottawa’s Magnetic North Theatre Festival

In the midst of Festival Transamériques, I’m taking a quick trip to Ottawa next week to cover Magnetic North Theatre Festival. Started in 2003, Magnetic North is a sort-of “round-up” of new Canadian theatre. Based in Ottawa, every second year the festival moves to a different major Canadian city (and yes, though I hear the jokes already, there is more than one major Canadian city). I first experienced Magnetic North in 2004 when they came to Edmonton, Alberta. That year, I managed to see 9 out of the 10 performances and was blown away. In the midst of despairing over the state of Canadian theatre, I was reminded that innovative, and inspiring new Canadian theatre does exist. And there it was, all gathered together in one festival. Volunteering at Catalyst Theatre that week, where everyone from the festival congregated each night, I remember a feeling of excitement at being part of this scene.

I haven’t been to Magnetic North since that year – so this year the festival has a lot to live up to! I’ll be catching four shows in three days. The Festival features 6 mainstage productions this year, plus a number of smaller lectures, workshops, and performances that they are calling Magnetic Encounters. It has proven a great festival for artists to meet artists and this has resulted in the development of an Industry Series and Compass Points, an industry series for students and emerging artists.

Here are some of the productions to look for:

Photo by Scott Munn

Zuppa Theatre Company, 5 Easy Steps (to the end of the world)
This is the first I’ve heard of this company from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It looks like they have established themselves as an interdisciplinary ensemble, creating original works that have toured across Canada. “It is the night of the end of the world, and three friends isolate themselves in the cluttered basement of a pawnshop. Determined to go out with a bang, they conjure an evening that is both a dance party and a painful meditation on the past, future and the ever-elusive present.”

Photo by Guntar Kravis

Necessary Angel, This Is What Happens Next Daniel MacIvor is a darling black sheep of the Canadian theatre scene. Through his work as a playwright, an actor, and a director, he has become a Canadian icon. Here, MacIvor spins a scary fairytale for adults.

Photo by Trudie Lee

One Yellow Rabbit, Kawasaki Exit
Out of Calgary comes a new piece from One Yellow Rabbit, a company that has had a strong influence on contemporary Canadian theatre from coast to coast. They run a summer theatre intensive every summer; everyone I know has taken it or is about to take it or wants to take it. “Equal parts mystery and love story, Kawasaki Exit follows an unlikely trio as they tread the misty outskirts of Tokyo, stocking up on vodka and briquettes for their final ride.”

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