Sunday, April 14, 2024

The 10th annual OUTstages queer theatre festival coming to Victoria this month

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Theatre lovers, drama addicts, and adrenaline cravers, pay attention!

Intrepid Theatre has announced their upcoming 10th annual OUTstages: a decidedly queer theatre festival, running from January 31st to February 11th.

This huge 10th-year celebration will bring dazzling queer performances and adventurous programming to Victoria with a 12-day run of eclectic and electric shows by queer artists from both Vancouver Island and other areas of Canada!

It will be held at both the Metro Theatre and Intrepid Studio, where the atmosphere will thrive with passion, excitement, and sizzling beauty.

Catch a mix of drag, comedy, late-night cabarets, dance numbers, and much more!

In an interview with Victoria Buzz, founding Curator of OUTstages and current Artist Director Sean Guist, detailed the significance of this year’s festival as it marks the next stage of evolution and community involvement after ten amazing years. 

(Sean Guist, founding Curator and Artist Director)

“It started as a conversation with the Artistic Director at the time, where we were talking one Friday afternoon over a gin and tonic about some ideas that we have for future programming,” Guist said.

“I said I’d always wanted to produce a queer theatre festival and there wasn’t one in Victoria. We started doing some queer cabarets to test the waters and see the audience response, which was incredible…then she asked me to be the curator of the queer theatre festival.”

Guist shared that it used to be held closer to the Pride festivities, but has since shifted to the winter to ensure there are incredible queer events happening throughout the year. 

“We want to heat up your winter with hot queer programming.”

He added that it’s a really important piece of the cultural fabric of the city and that queer people see their stories represented on stage. 

“Especially with all the hatred, banned books, protests against drag storytime and trans rights, it’s more important than ever to showcase these stories and identities on stage.” 

Guist is thrilled that the city has embraced this festival as a part of the major cultural events that happen during the year and knows that it’s something the people of Victoria look forward to as well. 

It’s the community that makes the difference and drives change, so these events are not only good performance art, but also a way to open up those conversations about different identities and fluidity. 

“It’s about queer work, but it’s also just about really great theatre and presenting work that is challenging ideas, exploring identities, and exciting performances,” he highlighted.

“It’s for anyone that enjoys adventurous theatre…for anyone that isn’t queer, I think they worry that the space isn’t for them, but it is. If you want to see wild performance art, incredible storytelling, dance, and drag, then it is for them too.”

(Creepy Boys / OUTstages Queer Theatre Festival)

When asked if there were any performances in particular that he was most excited about, he laughed and said that it’s quite difficult to choose just one or two. 

There will be such a wide variety of performance styles offered to audiences that anyone can really tailor their experience to their favourite bits of theatre. 

Guist did, however, want to mention their special 10th year anniversary guest that they’ve commissioned to be a part of the festival—acclaimed trans storyteller, educator, and writer Ivan Coyote will be presenting their world premiere show, Playlist.

“Ivan was the first artist that I thought of, and they were really excited because they’ve never created theatrical work in this way,” Guist said.

(Ivan Coyote / OUTstages Queer Theatre Festival)

Additionally, Intrepid Theatre is thrilled to co-present with Dance Victoria for the first time ever as well, their show is called Residuals and is a really beautiful dance theatre creation from a Japanese-Canadian artist from Vancouver, Shion Skye Carter. 

“Really excited to be able to involve other arts organizations and be able to showcase queer work across disciplines. Having dance in the festival is a beautiful moment for the 10th anniversary.”

He added how special it is to be able to work with such incredible artists and people, and when he looks back at all the amazing opportunities they’ve had over the years, he feels truly blessed and can’t wait to continue to watch the festival grow and thrive.

Watching how the audiences have responded, and how many of these visitors choose to revisit the magic over and over again is really inspiring. 

“A lot of great power can come through art…it’s a beautiful thing.”

Some of the performances include an all local, all POC show ColourVision, where you’re invited to join Noah Lott and the cast in a celebration of diversity and colour; tour-de-force writer/performer Johnnie McNamara Walker’s deep-dive into the shocking world of Heterosexuality; and the 13th birthday party of The Creepy Boys of Scantily Glad Theatre, complete with 2000s sexy songs, satanic rituals, and Willem Dafoe.

(Shion Skye Carter’s Residuals / OUTstages Queer Theatre Festival)

Ticket prices vary and can be found along with the performance schedule, here

Intrepid Theatre is a believer and advocate for accessibility and affordability, and in an effort to encourage everyone and anyone to enjoy their performances, they offer alternative ticketing packages that you can check out. 

For example, guests under the age of 25 are eligible for our free Youth OUTreach tickets for queer youth and allies. This Youth OUTreach initiative provides free tickets to shows at the festival for self-identified LGBTQ youth and allies under 25. 

OUTstages 2024 will also feature our Pay-What-You-10 $10 tickets, wherein 10% of tickets for shows will be on-sale for just $10.

(OUTstages poster)

If you are looking to hone your queer performance craft and feel like you’ve got something the world needs to see, keep an eye out for their call for submissions!

They open applications every year, which will be accessible through their website sometime in the summer. 

OUTstages: A Decidedly Queer Theatre Festival

  • Where: Location will depend on the show, but will be held at the following:
    • Metro Studio Theatre, 1411 Quadra Street
    • Intrepid Studio, 1609 Blanshard Street #2
  • When: Wednesday, January 31st to Sunday, February 11th

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