Technology dissolves boundaries for return of Shuswap Theatre’s TOTE fest

Three-day online event will include performances from as far as Scranton, Pennsylvania

Shuswap Theatre is bringing back its popular Theatre on the Edge festival. This year’s event will be held online on July 16 to 18, with performances followed by artist chats and interviews. (Contributed)

Shuswap Theatre is bringing back its popular Theatre on the Edge festival. This year’s event will be held online on July 16 to 18, with performances followed by artist chats and interviews. (Contributed)

This year’s Theatre on the Edge will once again show that Shuswap Theatre is more than a building.

For more than a year the local theatre company has been adapting to the times by offering performances that could be enjoyed outdoors or in the comfort of home.

With lingering uncertainty around the pandemic and related restrictions, and the desire to support artists in what has been a challenging time, Shuswap Theatre’s Elizabeth Ann Skelhorne and Marcus Smith have been preparing for the return of Theatre on the Edge (TOTE). Scheduled for July 16 to 18, this year’s TOTE festival will be hosted online at totefestival.com.

Smith and Skelhorne stress this will not be a passive viewing experience. Viewers can take part in online artist chats and parties by registering on the TOTE festival website. While the shows are free to watch, there will be an opportunity for viewers to provide donations to support the artists.

“Marcus was very firm on this from the beginning, that we must keep that connection between the audience and the artist, so we’ve built in registered Zoom calls at the end of each day so the audience, if they want to, can chat with the artists,” said Skelhorne.

“We’re encouraging people to bring a beverage and hang out and chat with the artists,” added Smith, who will be hosting the online chats.

Read more: Shuswap Theatre tunes into radio, streaming online for upcoming season

Read more: In photos: Five stages of laughter at Shuswap Theatre

In the past, TOTE fest would offer seven shows, each performed twice over a three-day weekend. With this year’s fest, there will be seven main shows, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes each, as well as seven shorter performances of up to 15 minutes. And, with the online format, this year’s festival is able to include artists from home and much farther abroad. Among them, Anishinaabe playwright, theatre creator and educator Josh Languedoc of Edmonton with Rocko and Nakota: Tales From the Land, and Pennsylvania’s Farm Arts Collective with Flower to the Power of Two. Skelhorne said she’s also excited at being able to include Kamloops Burlesque on Sunday’s bill, with the closing performances, People Are Strange and Men in Black, as well as bonus content after the show.

All of the shows can be viewed on the TOTE fest website, but for a limited time.

While the format of this year’s TOTE fest may be a one off, Smith anticipates future festivals will no longer be purely live events.

“We have the opportunity to really grow our user base… and increase accessibility to people who can’t afford to get here, or can’t physically get here or they’ve got time constraints,” said Smith. “We’re going to allow them to come be part of the fun, come be part of the party, come be part of the joy that is Theatre on the Edge.”

For more information about this year’s festival, including the schedule of performances, visit totefestival.com.


lachlan@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Sign up for our newsletter to get Salmon Arm stories in your inbox every morning.

Salmon ArmTheatre