Talkin’ About My Generation (Nextfest 2016)

It’s Thursday time! it’s Thursday time!

And you know what that means… personal updates, calendar occasions, or local events!

Let’s spin the wheel and find out. Tick, tick ticktick tick tick tickticktick ticktickticktickticktickticktick ticktick tick tick tick tick tick

And the wheel stops on local events!

Which is fantastic because I want to write about a local event today – it’s an event that started exactly one week ago and which will be wrapping up this Sunday, an event called Nextfest.

Nextfest is a multi-disciplinary event which showcases the talents of dancers, musicians, actors, writers, and visual artists. It has been around since 1996, which means this year marks the 20th anniversary of the festival.

Founded by Bradley Moss and now run by festival director Steve Pirot, Nextfest is a celebration of the next generation of artists. Those up-and-comers who are undiscovered and just sorting out their individual voices. It is a well known festival in the Edmonton arts community and if you are talented & lucky enough to be selected to participate, you just might be one of the 700+ artists that gets featured in the event.

To top it off, if you are a visual artist, you might even have the tremendous opportunity to grace the cover of the festival program. Which is pretty dang cool.

I’m probably going to date myself somewhat by writing this, but I remember when I think about this event I am transported right back to when I graduated from the UofA in 2007. 4 of my friends and members of my graduating class were invited to showcase their work in the exhibition and that was my first exposure to the festival. It was a lot of fun and the parties were fantastic. Then a couple of years past by and then my girlfriend at the time was also invited to exhibit her work, which gave me even more exposure to how the production worked and incredible amount of time spent by the artists and the festival organizers.

So when it came time to see my little brother participating on the theatre side even more years later, I had a deep respect for Nextfest and a belief in it’s inherent significance for the Edmonton landscape.

Which is why I decided that this year would be a great time for my re-entry into the mix and an opportunity to attend the Nextfest Visual Art Niteclub, a gallery event hosted within the larger framework of Nextfest and tonight happens to be THE best night to attend the gallery.

the Nextfest Visual Art Niteclub features art making all night, a play, live music, and performance art pieces for small audiences of 1 or a few. The event is licensed, all ages, and FREE. I’ve already been down to meet with the curator Steven Teeuwsen, and meet with one of the artists, who MAY be doing an interview with me shortly.

So come on down to Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre tonight and enter in the west door between RBC and Bonnie’s Lounge – It’s gonna be awesome. And that’s all I’ve got for this week folks, I’m out of theories, so I’ll see you on Sunday!

Tim!

Ice, Ice, Baby (Ice Castles, Hawrelak Park)

It always feels so damn cold this time of year! I blame it on the lack of feasible options of things to do in winter.

Stupid Edmonton and the weather.

Whoa, wait up a second timotheories! You told us weeks ago that there is lots to do in Edmonton in the winter because we are a festival city. That our mindset is often our biggest problem and that it’s all about getting out there and trying new things especially things which don’t fit into our comfort zones.

Oh right, I forgot about that for a minute there. Must’ve had brain freeze or something.

Well I’m glad you are keeping me accountable dear readers. I don’t know who else would otherwise. And if that was the case, this blog would slip into anarchy. And we’d see burnt out cars or worse. Though the warmth might actually be worth it…

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No! I’m just kidding. Let’s refocus.

I definitely don’t want to read in the papers that several of you decided to take lighter fluid and set a bunch of property on fire to simultaneously keep you warm and entertain yourselves.That would be terrible.

Instead, I want you to get outside and explore our river valley and our parks this winter season. With just 10 weeks or less of winter to get through, we aren’t going to be able to enjoy this opportunity for much longer. Especially because February is the month of “love” or “love hatred”, mardi gras, and groundhogs. Then we move into March which ushers in green beer, Easter, spring, and madness.

So January really is the best time to try something new and exciting.

Okay we’re convinced timotheories, what should we do this January that is so timely and appropriate for you to bring up today?

Have you heard of the company Ice Castles before? Well, Ice Castles is a Utah based “entertainment” company that has a very niche purpose. That’s right, you guessed it, they build large scale ice castle sculptures by hand and give you the opportunity to walk, squeeze, slide, and crawl through them.

I haven’t actually been yet myself, but this is the very first time they’ve come to Edmonton. The company has been constructing these ice castles since 2009 in many of the colder states of the United States. And even better, we are the first Canadian city to get the opportunity to experience this amazing structure. Apparently it had been drawing crowds since before it even opened at the end of December.

If you want to visit the Ice Castles you’ll have to buy your tickets before the end of March (weather permitting), and they definitely do sell out each day, sometimes a week or two in advance. I’ve personally got tickets for this Friday night and I can’t wait to take my girlfriend to go see it. If you’re interested in checking it out, the Ice Castles are open at Hawrelak Park between 3-9PM Monday-Thursday (except Tuesdays), 3-10PM Fridays, noon-10PM Saturdays, and noon-8PM Sundays.

 

I was fortunate to find out about this from friends and my good friend Douglas from How-To-Douglas finally reminded me enough times that I made the commitment to check this thing out.

Earlier in the year, just before New Years Eve, I made a promise to my girlfriend that I would take her out every Friday night for food and some sort of activity, and the one caveat is that we do something NEW once a month.

Well, Ice Castles is that thing for the month of January. And I’ll do what I can to let you guys know if it was worth it when Friday is all said and done.

And that’s all the theories I’ve got for Timely Thursday my friends. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll check you back on Sunday evening something rather stimulating.

Tim!

 

‘Tis The Season (Edmonton Winter Activities)

“I feel like I’m going to puke,” that’s what I kept repeating to myself over and over the morning after. I had told myself countless times that I would never go through this again. I told myself that I was going to change my lifestyle and become a different person. A different person, with different hobbies, ones that were less narrow in scope and so self-destructive.

Winter usually does that to me.

The cold air, the slow movement, the limited visibility. It reminds me of that overwhelming feeling of nausea you get right before you decide to puke from the exploits of a night of drinking.

Sure you get to pull out your cool couture with the accompanying cold weather – military jackets, headbands, heavy boots, sweaters, and peat coats. But how long does that tide you over, before you realize you are in this for the long haul, that warmth and light aren’t coming back any time soon? How long before you realize it’s game over!

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I can only blame myself. I don’t know enough about my hometown and as soon as the winter hits, I want to bundle up with a blanket and a dozen or two movies that I’ve just picked up after the Black Friday madness, and settle in for a long winter filled with craft beer and a carved beard. And not much else.

I’m not the only one who feels this way right? Edmonton sucks! Alberta is the worst! There is nothing to do here in the winter! Stupid trading post should’ve never took off and brought settlement along with it. People have a right to their warmth and freedom.

Wait, hold up a second!

I’m kidding, I hope you realize. Mostly kidding anyway.

Edmonton doesn’t suck at all. We truly are a festival city and there are a ton of things to do festival-wise or other in the winter. You just have to change your mindset, get out of your well-worn comfort zone, and expose yourself to new events and good people who host them.

And don’t worry, I’m gonna list a bunch of ideas off, in the hope that some will stick like wet snow, and you find something to do with your time this season, other than couch surfing.

It couldn’t be more timely, but here is the list of typical winter activities you can take up, and how!

 

  1. Get outside and explore our river valley and our parks. And either build a snowman and/or snow fort, have a snowball fight, go sledding, catch some snow flakes on your tongue, or collect some pine cones
  2. Visit a craft show for inspiration and then make some cool ornaments from stuff in nature and/or craft supplies. Or maybe buy some paper and make snowflakes and then leave them throughout the city. Post some photos and share them on instagram #yegwinterart might be a good tag
  3. Jump on zomato.com and try out a local eatery or bar/lounge which is new to YOU. It doesn’t have to be new to everyone, just to you.
  4. Pick up a copy of VueWeekly, Avenue, The Gateway, Edmonton Examiner, Journal, SUN or whatever and go and see something local made (a film, an art opening, a band, a lecture series). I’m not 100% how to get a copy of this online, but I’ll eventually link to some pictures from my hard copy for ease of use. Vueweekly publishes a Winter Guide every year and it covers November-February for a lot of cool events.
  5. Read some of the long lost books you’ve shelved. Grab your flannel PJs, a nice blanket, some slippers, and some hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps OR eggnog OR champagne OR hot buttered rum OR mulled wine OR spiced cider. Visit the Reuse Centre, Value Village, Wee Book Inn if you want inexpensive gently used books.
  6. Join a winter sport. Whether it’s ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice sculpture or hiking. What about something more exotic like winter camping, winter cycling and climbing? You could also join a gym or take up swimming too.
  7. Take a day trip and tour a winery, brewery or distillery to learn about the process and have a fun adventure with your loved one and/or friends. That way you are supporting local business and getting to know areas of the city or the countryside which you probably never knew existed.
  8. Go and experience a different side of life by volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating food/toys/clothing to a local charity. You can clean out your house and help someone else in need at the same time. You could even learn how to make food and preserve it, effectively providing home-made gifts to people who don’t have the means to do so.

 

The best thing about a list like this is that it is totally up to you to decide what to do with it. Take responsibility for your life and try something scary this winter season! Don’t spend another 4 months of your life complaining about how boring this time of year is.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed by the options I’ve presented, don’t fret, dear readers. You can pick a few choice examples and try them out. One. At. A. Time. Because we can only form new habits if we stick to them for 30 days or more. Just kidding, it’s more complex than that. But 30 days is a good start. This is a  topic which I want to cover more in the future, but here is an article to give you a taste for now. But that’s just a theory.

What do you think? Am I suffering from hypothermia? Leave some comments, and let me know how you get through the winter.

Tim!

The Late Night Show (11 O’Clock Number)

We sit down, the lights dim, when very suddenly a charming guy in a suit jacket steps out into the spotlight, and then he heads over towards the keyboard. As he sits down, he gives pause for about 10 seconds before his posture lifts up, he grabs the microphone, and jumps into a riffed delivery of a powerful line…

It’s Friday night ladies and gentleman! I hope you’re ready! Please welcome the cast of the 11 O’Clock Number!

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An ensemble of 20-somethings (sometimes early 30’s) explode out of various areas of the stage and break into song right as the music amps up. If you haven’t been to one of their shows before, this can be a bit surprising, if you have, then it’s a comforting spectacle which precedes something which I can assure you, no one has ever seen before.

I write it this way because every show is literally unique!

If you haven’t been to the 11 O’Clock Number before, you are in luck, as the Grindstone Theatre production has just started it’s 4th season about a month ago. The show takes place every Friday, at 11 PM incidentally, at Edmonton’s very own Backstage Theatre (10330 84 Ave NW) between the early months of fall until the beginning of summer, almost without fail.

Admittedly, I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced this improvised musical more times than I can count at this point for the previous season. And a handful of times throughout seasons 1 and 2.

Why am I telling you about this event you ask, dear readers?

Because it’s pretty damn awesome and a wonderful way to experience live theatre in Edmonton and to kick off the weekend. The fact that the show is on at 11 at night has almost assured that a cult following would develop, because in my experience, theatre doesn’t usually happen that late. At least not here. In Edmonton. Canada’s “Festival City.” WTF.

But that doesn’t tell you much about the show itself!

The Number, the pet name commonly known to it’s cast and adherents, tells a different story every Friday night. Using a group of 5-7 performers, always accompanied on keyboard and usually by Erik Mortimer or a guest, and sometimes on drums by Curtis Den Otter, is a show for the audience and by the audience.

How the Artistic Director, Byron Trevor Martin, accomplishes this, is quite demonstrative of his own ability to adapt and help drive the story forward when he participates in the shows himself.

There are a number of formats that the cast employs to set up the show – from their directors cut (with a narrator making comments and who also directs the show from behind the scenes), to the musical mixer (short form improv, followed by a condensed long form second half),  the classic format (creating a show from audience suggestions), life is a musical (an audience member tells their life story and it’s acted out), the costumed musical (the cast does a poll and comes up with a theme), or the wild card show (cards that can effect the story are given to audience members, who shout them out at will).

All of the themes are employed to effectively set up a show on the spot and by this same token it informs the performers so that they can tell a long form improvised play that features improvised songs throughout. Sometimes the songs are performed by one person, other times we’ll see a duet, and then we might see an epic performance which features all members of the cast, but whatever the inspiration, it’s always played to comedic effect.

These are funny stories.

Sometimes they are weird stories, but they are always funny stories.

I’ve even attended their classes and learned some improv skills myself. This theatre company has provided tremendous value for the local community in other ways too. They host an “Open Jam” on the last Tuesday of every month at the Holy Trinity Church (10037 – 84 Avenue) as well as co-hosting The Social Scene with Citadel Theatre every month.

Like I said, tremendous value to the local community, especially to theatre artists.

So what do you think? Are you interested in checking out The Late Night Show? Want to read more of these kinds of posts? Have some suggestions local events for timotheories to share? Hit me back!

Otherwise, I’m theoried out for the night and am gonna need a couple of days to recuperate. See you fine folks soon.

Tim!