The first week of undercurrents this year has been dominated by solo performances, but as Brotherhood and Vovk move on to new adventures they make room for two more ensemble shows that explore different types of deprivation – one in which the audience cannot see, and one in which the performers do not speak.

Tomorrow’s Child, produced by Ghost River Theatre out of Calgary, will be playing on the mainstage at Arts Court starting Wednesday February 15 at 9:00pm. Ghost River describes the show as “an immersive audio-experience created for a blindfolded audience,” not unlike Darkness at this past Fresh Meat Festival.  Tomorrow’s Child bases its text on a Ray Bradbury short story from the late 1940s. The plot revolves around the seemingly unbridgeable gap between two parents and their son, who “has been born into another dimension”.

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Official show poster courtesy of undercurrents Theatre Festival

In this case the blindfolding of the audience seems to work as a sensory metaphor for the dimensional gap between the characters, and we will be ready to report on how effectively Ghost River pulls it off. Tomorrow’s Child has already played SummerWorks, High Performance Rodeo and Beakerhead (the last two being large Calgary-based arts festivals encouraging experimentation, especially Beakerhead) before that, so its pedigree suggests that Ottawa theatregoers are in for a treat.

Additionally, the Late Night Series brings us a new 30-minute pay-what-you-can experience in the Arts Court Studio, Faster than the Speed of Dating, which will be playing at 10:30 each night from Thursday February 16 to Saturday the 18th. Featuring Madeleine Hall and Kevin Reid, FTTSOD is a “wordless clown comedy” not unlike Hall’s previous work with Cardinal and Oh No! Said the Parrot at last year’s Fringe and Fresh Meat Fest, respectively.

FTTSOD originally made its premiere at Fresh Meat in 2014 where it represented another creative step for Reid, whose long-time reviewing/blogging of the Ottawa theatre scene has now culminated in Reid stepping onstage and creating his own theatre (though, word on the street is he’s doing a little blogging again too). As a wordless piece that presumably relies on physicality to communicate its story, FTTSOD promises a high-energy, madcap show, and Hall playing to her strengths alone is enough to build anticipation for what will likely be a delightfully silly experience.

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Pictured L-R: Madeline Hall and Kevin Reid; image courtesy of undercurrents Theatre Festival

And if you just happened to miss the first round of Friday ($3) Beers and Panel Discussions, don’t worry, there is another one happening on Feb. 17th! The topic of the first event was surrounding the racial disparity in local arts communities, specifically Ottawa; how current institutions can tackle this problem; and also how we can encourage the creation of new artistic institutions that strictly encourage/enforce the dissemination of creative work from marginalized communities. This week, criticism is back up on the table and moderator Chris Hannay hopes to tackle ways we can develop new critical voices despite ever shrinking arts coverage. An important discussion that strikes to the core of the New Ottawa Critics, we are very much looking forward to attending this panel!

Undercurrents reopens its doors tonight with New Play Tuesday and regular programming returning Wednesday.

Show times and ticket info can be found here.
*quotes are pulled from the undercurrents festival programme

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