By Tim Ford
The Democratic Set: “disturbingly obvious and tantalizing strange.”
CALGARY – No, not that Rodeo. This one is Calgary’s rodeo of dance, theatre, music, and art of all disciplines, returning for its 33rd year: One Yellow Rabbit’s annual High Performance Rodeo
Is this your first time hearing about the two-week Festival that takes place every January throughout Calgary? Fear not: we have pro tips to maximize your Rodeo time, thanks to One Yellow Rabbit Board Member (and former Rodeo staffer for nearly 10 years) Todd Hawkwood.
Todd’s TIP #1: “Go and see the weird stuff.”
In Hawkwood’s view, the Rodeo is an opportunity to see “artists and styles of performance art that you normally don’t see.” So what “weird” shows would Hawkwood recommend for this year? “For me, the thing I want to see this year is ‘Macbeth Muet.’ It looks weird and wild and I’ve learned that the shows from Quebec are always interesting all the time.” Macbeth Muet is a silent pantomime retelling of the classic Shakespearean play, told entirely without words. It runs Jan. 24-25 @ 8 p.m. and Jan. 26 @ 2 p.m. at the Pumphouse Theatre.
Todd’s TIP #2: “There’s a lot of auxiliary and free events, too.”
“Why not take your lunch break and go see a free show?” Hawkwood says, referring to the ProArts@Noon Concert Series. The popular free-to-the-public concert series features local and guest performers at the downtown Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, on Jan. 9, 16 and 23 @ 12 p.m.. Hawkwood also says that Rodeo attendees with tight budgets can check out a free installation called The Democratic Set which is a “custom-made film set” that people can visit and interact with at Eau Claire Market Jan 9-10, before seeing the final filmed product at Calgary’s stunning new Central Library. It’s all free and open to the public. “There’s been many events that happen at the Rodeo that are free and fun,” Hawkwood says.
Todd’s TIP #3: “Try not to do too much research.”
To Hawkwood, going into a Rodeo show without too many expectations is actually key to enjoying it. He uses the example of famed poet Shane Koyczan, who will be performing at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Jan. 22 @ 8p.m.. “I know he’s a poet, and when I’ve seen clips of him, he’s amazing,” Hawkwood says. But Hawkwood says that it’s much more about allowing your interest to be piqued, and allowing yourself to be surprised. “Go with an open mind,” he says.
Todd’s TIP #4: “If a show’s in the Legion, just go see it.”
Hawkwood says this downtown performance venue “has a soul.” The Royal Canadian Legion hosts two shows, This Little Piggie (originally co-produced by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop and the Calgary Folk Music Festival), and Hammered Hamlet (produced by the Shakespeare Company). The nearly 100 year-old venue is fully licensed and Hawkwood says seeing shows there comes with a terrific energy.
Todd’s TIP #5: “Just go once a week, and before you know it you may see two a week.”
Hawkwood says it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of programming at the Rodeo, but suggests sticking to a few choices each week to keep it simple. “There’s certain pieces you have to hit,” Hawkwood says. “Go see One Yellow Rabbit. They’re Canadian theatre legends.” This year, One Yellow Rabbit’s show is Live Your Prime, with Damien Frost, Jan. 9 -19 @ 7:30 p.m. at the Big Secret Theatre.by high performing!, How to Rodeo