Strap on your snowshoes (though maybe skates rainboots would be more appropriate at this point)- it’s time to make the winter pilgrimage down to Arts Court for the 7th annual undercurrents Theatre Festival which opens tonight (!!!) and runs until February 18th. Hosting a wide variety of live performance that brings together both local and touring artists, undercurrents strives to show the “best original, contemporary theatre” currently being created. This year’s festival will see two Ottawa-produced world premieres take the stage and one Ottawa Fringe Favourite return to its hometown before continuing on a seeming journey to global domination. So, what else can you expect from #undercurrents2017? Keep reading to find out what’s caught our attention so far!


Photography by Kevin Orr

Ian’s pick: “I’m intrigued by Theatre 4.669’s Un-Countried, which centres around two guards at a Berlin Wall crossing who are “caught flat-footed in the middle of life-altering events caused by a monumental bureaucratic blunder.” This show has a lot of things going for it already: an Ottawa-based company with a world premiere, as well as a story from the not-so-distant past with distressingly current relevance.”

Brie’s pick: “I’ve definitely taken note of Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera given that the set photos look incredible, but I’d like to give a shout out to New Play Tuesday because last year it was such a fun event. Not only that, but some of the plays we got to see (in the stages of early development, mind you) are now being produced on Ottawa’s main-stages. Burnt, is one example, which we’ll see at the festival this year; but there’s also Finishing the Suit, by Lawrence Aronovitch, being put on at the Gladstone at the beginning of March. It’s particularly heartening to see these new plays go on to have a bigger theatrical life, as it were; and undercurrents is providing a really nice platform for that to happen. And it’s free!”


Wes’ pick: I’m looking forward to the world premier of Norah Paton’s Burnt. I’ve honestly been waiting for it since hearing some of the preliminary text at the undercurrents New Play Tuesday event last year. From what I remember, the text is largely (entirely?) a verbatim piece made up from interviews with people at the Burning Man festival. As you might expect from a temporary ten-day village attended by 65000 humans, the participants in the festival have a lot of competing narratives about what exactly Burning Man is about.

Pictured: Norah Paton; Photography by Christopher Snow

The tension embodied in the participants in a festival that operates on an economy of love, and yet stage an annual raid on the nearest Walmart that virtually empties it of consumer goods. Since Paton has been a part of the Ottawa Fringe Creator’s Reserve program, I don’t doubt the material and the exploration of the themes and tensions has changed a lot since I heard the reading last year, and that’s part of my excitement about it. Considering how intriguing the initial stages of the text and development were, and Paton’s history of making strong choices in her creations, this play makes the top of my “to see” list.”


Ticket prices, show times, and information about panel discussions & free events can be found here.



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