Original ideas on display at Enbridge playRites Festival

Alberta Theatre Projects introduces Calgarians to original Canadian plays again this year with its annual Enbridge playRites of New Canadian Plays, which kicks off Feb. 1.

“The festival is about four new plays, four new visions of the world, from Canadian playwrights,” explains Vicki Stroich, a dramaturg (someone who provides support for playwrights) with Alberta Theatre Projects.

“It’s about the many different stories we have in Canada and the many different ways we tell them, and introducing that range to an audience.”

Stroich emphasizes the importance of the festival to Alberta Theatre Projects, which prides itself on giving fresh material a platform and providing opportunities for the artists involved. She says that when Calgarians see the Enbridge playRites Festival, they are often witnessing the start of something big.

“There are a lot of playwrights who had their careers launched through the festival, got their first opportunity to have their play staged, who developed their voice through it,” Stroich says. “We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can support these plays and how we can support these playwrights on their journey.”

Alberta Theatre Project’s dedication to the artists involved has led to experiences like “Ash Rizin,” a hip-hop musical set to debut during the festival that is directed by Patrick McDonald.

“Working with Alberta Theatre Projects and the festival is always a wonderful thing; I think it’s always important to launch new projects and new plays,” McDonald says. “You can’t always be recycling the past, and we’re looking forward to new things all the time. It’s a great opportunity for people to spread their creative wings.” Actor Allison Lynch performs a song from
“Ash Rizin,” a hip-hop musical debuting at the Enbridge playRites Festival on Feb. 1.

Photo by: Hannah Kost.

Allison Lynch, an actor performing in “Ash Rizin,” says the play is a fresh artistic experience for her.

“It’s not like anything I’ve ever been a part of or even seen before,” Lynch says.

“I’ve been in musicals, but this is different. Because it’s hip-hop, it has a whole different feel. It’s grittier and it’s very dark.”

“Ash Rizin” is an artistic collaboration between rapper Kyprios and award-winning playwright Michael Northey.

Stroich says it is these innovative themes and qualities that Calgary audiences continue to appreciate in the festival, which is now heading into its 26th year.

“We want to think audiences in Calgary are very conservative,” Stroich says. “But the reality is that Calgarians appreciate risk, and they appreciate trying something new. And I think that’s the reason why we’re so well supported, and why the festival has been around for so long; it captures the spirit of what Calgary is.”

The festival runs until Mar. 4 at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts.

Correction: Vicki Stroich is a dramaturg with Alberta Theatre Projects, not a playwright as originally written.

We apologize for the error.

Clarification: “Ash Rezin” was originally written in first reference as Patrick McDonald’s “Ash Rezin,” potentially mistakenly implying that he is either the writer or producer of the play. He is the director.

hkost@cjournal.ca