Pangaea Arts Festival – See It Before It’s Gone!

Ian Huffam

The Pangaea Arts Festival runs the rest of this weekend at Happy Goat Coffee, located at 35 Laurel Street. Sound a little bohemian to you? Well… you’d be right, but this little festival is so earnest in its goal that you can’t help but take it seriously.

Each night of Pangaea features a 20-minute play from 3 different Ottawa theatre troupes – 8th Generation Theatre, Dead Unicorn Ink, and Seedling Theatre. After the plays, live music takes through to the end of the night, with each night offering a different Ottawa-based artist.

The warehouse location of Happy Goat Coffee provides a surprisingly good location for a fledgling festival. Tucked away between Little Italy to the east and Hintonburg to the west, the location may be a bit obscure (especially to those who rely on public transit) but the pilgrimage leads to an artistic oasis. As Happy Goat Coffee does their own roasts the entire building smells of roasted coffee beans, the machines sitting attractively behind the café section. Strands of Christmas lights run acround the performance space where a small stage occupies the corner, and a massive garage door at the front is pulled up so that spectators need only look to their right to see the performance area for the live music. On a perfect summer day like this weekend offers, the atmosphere of love and art permeate the whole space.

Organizer Jonah Allingham has done an admirable job of selecting eclectic acts to fill this promising space. 8th Generation theatre brings two one-woman shows woven into one, both characters telling their personal stories of finding their identity as biracial women through dance. Both stories are clearly emotional and each performer offers a glimpse of her well-honed dance skills, but it’s the hypnotic sitar band playing the back-up that really caps this one off.

Dead Unicorn Ink offers improv, which by nature changes from night to night but their first offering, a gentlemanly duel between Ted Forbes and GRIMprov’s Joel Garrow for the hand of a fair lady (all while wearing frock coats and speaking in vaudeville voices) was certainly a contest in who could maintain a straight face the longest. The surprise addition of a gentlemanly rap battle made this one truly memorable, thanks to the drum player from 8th Generation’s sitar band.

The last play of the night, from new children’s theatre company Seedling Theatre, goes by the name of Sylvie’s Secret Spyglass. 8 ½-year od Sylvie looks for her friends Bird and Squirrel after their tree is chopped down, while Bird and Squirrel themselves look for a new place to live. Seedling is a new company and their actors are all either current or recently graduated theatre students, so they hold much promise in the future, perhaps to breathe life into a genre that doesn’t get much attention in the Ottawa scene.

Afterwards the live music was taken care of the extremely competent Lionyls, whose wailing guitars and intense drum solos finished the night off with a

lot of high energy. Factoring in that this event is licensed (local beer Kichesippi Blonde Ale is available at the café), there is a lot of potential for an excellent night out here.

The only disappointing aspect of the evening was the attendance. There was a small audience tonight, and as enjoyable as it all was it would have been even better had there been the energy of a full house to work off of. I assure you that this is absolutely worth a night of your life to check out Ottawa artists emerging onto the scene.

August 9-11, 2013

Happy Goat Coffee

35 Laurel St, Ottawa

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