With over one hundred artists participating in the 36th Rhubarb Festival, there is no doubt audiences will be amazed. The festival will be held at the Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, in both their Cabaret and Chamber, with libations for those who wish to partake. Unlike any other festival, audiences will have the opportunity to see many quality and unique performances under one roof. The acts range from comedies to one-man shows, even to interpretive dance and musicals.
The experience varies from what each individual makes of it. Viewers will pick the first performance to watch, and after the thirty-minute show, they can choose to stay or head over to the other rooms and experience other talents. Performances will be held in the most unlikely places including the hallways, washrooms, staircases and other alcoves of Buddies.
The adventures in the Rhubarb experience include a special events segment of the evening, which changes day by day, included in the $20 admission. On Thursdays and Fridays at 6 p.m., the Festival will host a Young Creators Unit, which is a collaboration of four young artists with the Queer Youth Arts Program to support emerging voices in the community. This part of Rhubarb is a Pay-What-You-Can event.
Finally, there are select off-site performances across the city, which take place at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Oasis Aqualounge and Videofag. These special performances are also Pay-What-You-Can so take the chance to attend at least one of these gems.
One of the shows that will be performed at the festival is What’s Left Of Us. Created and performed by Justin Many Fingers and Brian Solomon, this tells a story of shared histories between two men through dance and storytelling. Both men were born with undeveloped hands from a congenial birth defect known as amniotic band syndrome. Through their performance, viewers are granted access to their history and strong First Nations ancestry as you listen in on an intimate conversation with Solomon’s mother about the life of her son.
“We really needed each other,” Solomon recalls, embracing Many Fingers. “We needed the healing of the hand, a part of us which we and others ignored for many years. The healing came in multiple layers.”
The night was charged with emotion as the performers discovered that morning that four influential people from the arts community’s lives had been lost in a car accident, including an Elder from Many Fingers home reserve, Kainai Reserve in Alberta of the Blackfoot Territory.
“We had the changing room to ourselves before the show,” recalls Solomon. “There was so much energy in the room. We were singing so loud and dancing. They were there. They saw the show.”
The first week of the Rhubarb Festival runs from Wednesday, February 11th to Sunday, February 15th. The second week will continue from February 18th to February 22nd. Make sure to hashtag #RhubarbFestival #novellamag with pictures, videos, and commentary so we can follow your journey through the festival.
All photographs courtesy of the Rhubarb Festival.