Canada’s known for comedy and for Talk is Free Theatre artistic producer Arkady Spivak, it’s a tool to help us get to know ourselves.
“I want to look at what Canada is and comedy is its national anthem,” said Spivak, who is producing the second Barrie International Comedy Festival in September.
“It’s a really huge country. You have huge geography, two (official) languages, high multiculturalism, aboriginal culture and we’re not American. How can we make this wonderful country look smaller than it is?
“I’m going to ‘smallerize’ it by examining its eclectic potential.”
The event that runs from Sept. 17 to 21 mixes a mime, a Newfie comedian, a bilingual show for kids and an Aboriginal improv troupe with a dash of local humour including Andrea Murray and a community leadership roast.
“The ideas is not only different types of comedy, but different ages and different places. It’s designed to become a signature event during the third week of September. It’s not something available anywhere else,” Spivak said.
With a total of 12 events, this year’s edition is twice as busy as last year’s fest.
The festival also introduces the Allandale Fall Fling, a free circus-inspired family event in which the city will partner.
With performances at both the Mady and Georgian theatres, the comedy festival’s professional performances kick off with one of Canada’s most expressive artists, who’s just returned from Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria. Max Fomitchev takes his audience into a world filled with laughter and pathos without words, as he uses his body, face and a few props at the Mady Centre on Sept. 19.
Spivak sees the festival as not only an artistic opportunity for TIFT, but a chance to create a unique, high-profile event on Barrie’s artistic calendar.
It takes place before the theatre season begins in November and offers the local theatre company a different way to stretch creatively.
He noted that comedy, although it’s something Canadians are known for, falls through government funding cracks.
“It’s an orphan art form. The arts council tells you to go to theatre. It makes sense for us, as a theatre company, to do comedy. We’re able to bring not just the easy way out of comedy, but with acting. It’s not just about standing up and yak yak.”
A full performance listing is online at tift.ca.
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