Found Festival ready to take over Old Strathcona for a third year

“It sparks from the idea that young artists can’t afford space. Let’s do art in spaces we don’t have to pay for. This sort of work is being done all over the world and creating exciting opportunities in terms of making art more accessible to the public, to those who have never gone to see a play or gone to an art gallery.”

Ben Stevens as Herbert at the Found Festival. Photo by Nico Laroche-Humby

Ben Stevens as Herbert at the Found Festival. Photo by Nico Laroche-Humby

What: Found Festival

When: June 26 – 29

Where: Various found spaces in Old Strathcona

If you’ve had a chance to check out either of the two previous incarnations of the Found Festival, you’ll know how unique the festival it is. Last year my partner and I got to witness the upper level of Remedy on 109 street transformed into a Shakespearean fight ring featuring the Bard’s greatest revenge scenes. After being delighted by the way one of my favourite spots in Edmonton was re-imagined to showcase fight scenes, which were made even more impressive by the constrained space, I wanted to meet up with Found Festival Director, Andrew Ritchie to learn about the 2014 Found Festival.

Andrew says, “[The festival is] the brain child of Elena Belyea – she was just graduating from the University of Alberta and wanted to do a festival that took place in venues that we didn’t have to pay for. Every artist that graduates can’t afford to do theatre or music or art anywhere because it costs so much money. So she wanted to do a festival where we don’t pay for a single venue. That was the spark for the Found Festival.”

According to Andrew, what makes the festival so unique is that, “there’s a heightened level of intimacy and interactivity… It feels like it’s being made for you and you can’t help but engage because you’re in the world of the play, there’s no fourth wall. In some ways it makes it easier for you to really dive into the play…At the Found Festival, you can make what you want out of your experience. All the rules are gone. You don’t have a seat assigned to you, there’s no darkness, you’re not invisible. Immediately you’re aware of yourself as an audience member.”

According to Andrew, many of the pieces at this year’s Found Festival revolve around themes of depression, youth at risk and suicide. “It’s amazing how there’s so many pieces that seem to connect to that without us planning to do that. It’s really interesting how it seems that it’s either what the arts community’s thinking about or the festival gets a bit of connectivity throughout the whole thing.”

Andrew gives us a sneak peak into some highlights of the festival:

  • “Marlee Yule is doing Heartbreak Hotel – another audience-driven piece. It’s so relateable, it’s all about broken relationships. So, if you have been in any relationship – romantic, working, familial – that no longer exists but you have that teddy bear that your ex-partner gave you and you’re holding on to it but you don’t need it any more, you can hand it in and go in and look at people’s stuff and hear their stories and at the end of the festival, we’re going to destroy all this stuff.”
Farday Cage at the Found Festival Promotional Photo - Found Festival. Pictured: Morgan Smith - Photo by Mat Simpson

Farday Cage at the Found Festival Promotional Photo – Found Festival. Pictured: Morgan Smith – Photo by Mat Simpson

  • “The High Level Bridge, we’re going to have [Faraday Cage] on the bridge, which is a dream come true. We’re working with The Support Network on it. It’s really exciting, you download it on your phone – or we have MP3 players available – and you listen to this pre-recorded play and you can create your own experience as you walk across the High Level Bridge or sit in a spot.”
  • “Ellen Chorley of Promise Productions is doing Never Never, which is her adaptation of Peter Pan, in the river valley and it has like 19 actors involved in it and a bunch of young actors, as young as 8 or 9. I’m so excited these young actors are involved.”
  • “Last year we had the citizens gallery, which was open to anyone who wanted to donate an art piece and put it up and it was in the Old Strathcona library, so this year it’s back but it’s totally transformed. It’s in the back alley between the Gravity Pope Warehouse and Meat – it’s a pop-up drawing gallery. It’s cool to see [a piece] coming back with a similar message behind it but also a more defined idea. Anyone can come and put up art but we’re going to let it stay outside and erode with the weather… we’re going to see what Mother Nature does to it.”
  • “Since the first year we wanted to do something in a pool. At the Queen Elizabeth outdoor pool on Saturday the 28th, we’re going to have two bands playing and Shannon Clark, who will be doing live mural paintings at different events throughout the festival, she will have a two-hour window to paint what’s happening in the space, or her interpretation of what’s happening in the space and we’ll be recording it in time-lapse photography as well.”
  • “We’re going to have two late-night performances and they’re both so different. One is created by Ben Stevens (Herbert) and it’s happening in a grocery store and a block and a half away, Thomas Barnett is creating his in an alleyway in the darkness (The Colour of Life).”

Check out the rest of the festival’s line up on the Common Ground Arts Society’s website, or download the festival app from iTunes. Tickets are $8 – $10 or $40 for a festival pass.

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