So You Think You Can Drag: A Recap

BY MIA ARCINEGAS / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

On February 28th, the 7th annual “So You Think You Can Drag” show was held at the Bailey Theatre here in Camrose. It was part of the series of events that made up pride week at Augustana. This was my 2nd time attending this show, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much it has evolved over time. When I was tasked to write about this I was already planning on going, so it was very exciting for me. The scale, the audience, the venue, and the performances were on a different level compared to the last time I attended.

Normally, I always jot down notes I can refer to later on when I decide to sit down and write, but this time it was completely different. There was so much going on, I felt as if I would miss something if I looked away for a moment. It seemed like everyone in the theatre was just as engaged as I was, because there was never a dull moment. The hosts were splendid, and the audience was reciprocating the uplifting energy they were giving out.

The performances were all fabulous, and I was happy to see how much diversity there was among the performers. The audience welcomed all of them warmly, and I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to get dressed up, or down, in front of a crowd of strangers; naturally, I am in awe of anyone who has the confidence to get up on stage and execute routines they likely rehearsed over and over. The outfits, the lip-syncing, the dancing, the planning, and attention to detail are aspects I have always found so fascinating about drag. Seeing the lineup of performers proved how far drag has come as a whole.

With how well the event was organized, I forgot where I was for those 3 hours. I forgot I was in Camrose. This event is one of the fruits of many years of collaborative work between Augustana and the Camrose Pride Community. Thanks to the meticulous planning of those involved, we can attend a drag show in Camrose, thanks to them we do not have to venture to Edmonton to seek a like-minded gathering of people. We would not be celebrating pride in Camrose at this scale, if it wasn’t for the people at our university and community members.

Being fortunate enough to attend a drag night in this fairly small community, and looking forward to it every year is a symbol of growth in itself. For older generations, it is a sign that the right steps have been taken throughout the years, and younger generations of people living in Camrose won’t have to imagine what pride events are like, because they can attend them here. Needless to say, It was the best way to spend my last Friday night of the month. If you have never been to a drag show before, I hope reading this will inspire you to go to one in the future.

Chicago: An Excellent Production

BY MAVEN BODDY / DAGLIGTALE FREELANCE WRITER

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The Churchmice Players of Camrose have put together another amazing show: Chicago. This thrilling musical and Broadway hit came to life in Camrose on opening night, February 6, 2020. The story features two murderesses being defended by the same lawyer. The only catch is that they are using the publicity of their trials to gain more publicity and fame than the other so they can have celebrity status when they are free of charges.

The cast includes people from Camrose and surrounding communities including Beaumont, Wetaskawin, and Millet. Set in the roaring twenties, the lively dance and musical numbers throughout the show feature impressive choreography. Moments of humour interspersed throughout the show keep the audience laughing and enjoying themselves. Assistant choreographer, Signe Peake, commented how proud she was of everybody regardless of experience level: “everyone did amazing!” The performers and backstage crew emphasized how hard everyone had worked to put this show together.

Since September, these amateur performers have been meeting to learn the script along with musical numbers and extensive corresponding choreography. Augustana student Kyra Gusdal enjoys “the opportunity to get off campus and participate in something so fun,” not to mention connecting with fellow performers in the process. The show’s set designer, Todd Sikorski, is highly praised for making a backdrop for the action to unfold on. Scot Lorenson did an excellent job at his first time directing, casting, and making every moment on stage engaging. One of the leads, Brittany Johnson (Roxie Hart), commented that her experience “being part of the show has been amazing… the venue is also amazing and has made for a really fun time.” The Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Center is an outstanding venue for a lively show like Chicago to wow audiences. The best part of the show is the attention to detail in everything from perfectly-timed dance moves to visually immaculate poses and of course the singing. Definitely a must-see musical by the community Churchmice Players.

RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER: THE NORDLYS FESTIVAL!

BY ALIZA GRAHAM / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

The Bailey Theatre hosts its eleventh annual Nordlys Film and Arts Festival on Family Day weekend, February 14th-16th. Nordlys has an eclectic blend of films from Canada and around the world as well as the opportunity to engage with special guest filmmakers. Over the last decade, Nordlys has screened award-winning films from over twenty-five countries. Throughout the weekend, talented local performers provide musical interludes between showings of diverse films. Nordlys is entirely run by a team of volunteers and is supported by a growing list of community sponsors. They invite you to come travel to far-flung destinations from the comfort of your theatre seat and experience this unique celebration of cinema and community.

The festival begins with a music performance by The Steven Hartman Quartet, local musicians who will provide lively jazz music during the Cocktail Hour. Afterward, there will be a showing of The Fireflies Are Gone, which is a Canadian subtitled drama directed by Sébastian Pilote, starring Karelle Tremblay. It won the award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and is described as ‘beautifully crafted and emotionally effective’. Tremblay is recognized as one of Quebec’s most promising actors. Following this there will be a musical performance by Stephen Olson and the evening will end with the subtitled romantic drama Sir, which was filmed in India and directed by Rohena Gera. It is depicted as a heartfelt and visually sumptuous portrait of contemporary India.

Saturday will begin with the The Guilty, filmed in Denmark. It is a subtitled dramatic thriller directed and co-written by Gustav Möller. The Guilty premiered at Sundance and was Denmark’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Academy Awards. Then, there will be music by Neil and Lana, followed by a showing of The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova, which is a Canadian film. The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova is an absurdist drama directed/produced by Zack Bernbaum, Starring Douglas Nyback. It won Best Feature and Best Director awards at the Canadian Film Fest. Bernbaum, is a Toronto based director and producer and founded Ezegial Productions to tell engaging, thoughtful, intelligent, offbeat and imaginative stories. His films explore how our identities are shaped in relation to one another and the world around us. His work captures rich aesthetics, authentic performances, and unique tones. Nyback is an actor who is originally from Camrose and got his start doing Musical Theatre. In 2003 he moved to New York and has since become an actor, screenwriter, and producer with over a decade of experience in projects ranging from independent films, to major network television series and studio features. Next will be Echo in the Canyon, an American film. It is a music documentary directed by Andrew Slater, and it celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid 1960’s as folk went electric and The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and the Papas created the California Sound. Featuring Jakob Dylan and an all-star group of musicians, Echo in the Canyon uncovers personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today. The Saturday Night Concert features Mallory Chipman and The Mystics, a band founded by Chipman, a Canadian award-winning vocalist/composer who is one of the rising stars in Canadian jazz. However, her most recent project with the Mystics has pushed her in the direction of rock music. Another film will be showed, The Peanut Butter Falcon, from the USA, this is an Adventure/Comedy film directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, starring Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and Zack Gottsagen. It has heart, laughs and one of the purest on-screen friendships.

Sunday will start with City Lights, an American Depression-era film from 1931. It is a Romantic Comedy directed by Charlie Chaplin that showcases his art and achievement of silent comedy. After this film, music by Leslie Ayuneye and Jaron Rovensky. And they will show The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open a Canadian drama directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn. A chance encounter between two Indigenous women that have drastically different lived experiences find themselves navigating the aftermath of domestic abuse. The weekend will end with the dramatic comedy, The Farewell, USA/China. This film has partial subtitles and is directed by Lulu Wang, described as ‘a heartfelt celebration of both the way we perform family and the way we live it’.

(Originally published February 5, 2020)

Parking Inconvenience a “Benefit” for Camrose Community

BY ALIZA GRAHAM / Dagligtale Staff Writer

Every year the Camrose community is flooded with visitors from all over the province because of dance festival season, which is held annually at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre. The Lougheed Centre has a huge draw of people from studios as far south as Lethbridge and as far north as Fort McMurray.  The tourism brought into Camrose through dance festivals is enormous and highly beneficial for the community. In an interview with the Lougheed Centre Managers, Nick Beach and Tanya Pattullo, regarding the upcoming dance festival season this spring, some of the successes and challenges of dance season were discussed. We further talked about how these challenges are being managed, and the changes being made to accommodate and coordinate dance festival season and make this year a success. Overall, from the Lougheed perspective, dance season has a very positive impact on the campus and greater Camrose community.

When asked what makes for a successful dance festival, Beach responded that a festival that attracts a lot of people to the campus and community is important. In addition, he noted that the length and size of the festival are significant and the Lougheed Centre wants a long festival with longer days, and for everything to be well organized and run smoothly. Pattullo added that scheduling is essential in making a dance festival successful. The dance companies that are doing the festivals have been with the Lougheed Centre for a number of years now and have developed a good rhythm, routine, and structure with which they run. Any changes being made now are the minute tweaks because by now most everyone knows what they are doing. Beach said the Lougheed Centre is not making any major changes this year.. Pattullo explained that scheduling is a constant, not a change; the most important thing for managing scheduling is to pay attention to and keep constant awareness of everything going on.

Pattullo noted that dance season occurs at the perfect time of year because it is not typical tourist season, and so it is nice to be able to bring money into the community during what Pattullo describes as “shoulder season”, which is February through May. The economic impact for Camrose is huge, as dance festival season generates revenue and that revenue is used throughout the year to do a great amount of outreach and free programming events. It has become a sort of micro industry now; in an economic impact study from 2017 it was found that the Lougheed Centre dance festivals had an estimated economic impact of $4,463,257.82.

Managing parking and scheduling have been the key challenges in the past. Beach explained that the Lougheed Centre has been working with festival organizers to manage peak moments. There is a cycle they like to talk to festivals about, in which they hold small solos, duets, and groups interspersed with large groups to create variation and more control over the amount of people who are on campus and in the building at a certain time. Beach says they have learned a lot over the years and have had lots of discussions to improve the management of peak moments, which has helped immensely to control parking challenges.

Pattullo highlighted that they work to manage and organize these challenges with the festivals because they take pride in their building and their relationship with Augustana.  Beach does note that the most that these festivals will affect students is with parking, and to that he says: “You should feel happy to be inconvenienced. From a greater community perspective, being inconvenienced means that the community is benefitting from something going on and that is a great problem.” Beach’s advice to anyone who is wondering what is going on and why there are so many people on campus is to just come and check it out, walk through the lobby and see for yourself. It is a very high level dancing and it is amazing to see all of these people who are here and appreciate the event.

To conclude our interview, I asked Beach and Pattullo what their favorite thing about dance festival season is and they agreed that seeing all the kids on campus is wonderful. It is great how all these visitors are being drawn here for something other than being a student, and that the end result is they realize what a great place this is to be. It is also a joy to see how the dancers use the space, revealing the value and potential of the space because that is what it was built for, and the dance festivals really push the space to its limits. Overall, dance festival season shows the Lougheed Centre at its glory, and creates opportunity and activity in the Camrose community.

An Interview with a Canadian Comedy Icon

BY ISABELLA BOURQUE

I recently got to sit down (on the phone) with the star and creator of Corner Gas, Canadian comedian Brent Butt, to ask him a few questions before he comes on down to Camrose for his stand-up show March 19.

Butt is originally from Saskatchewan and, for those who may not know, he based his hit TV show on a fictional farming town in Saskatchewan, named Dog River. The show skyrocketed to the number one show in Canada and the United States, averaging one million views per episode, and still remains in the top 10 of the Greatest Canadian Television shows in history.

The first question I wanted answered was where Butt got his start to comedy.

“I started in comedy pretty [the] standard route, really. I started on an amateur night at a comedy club back in 1988. The comedy club [was] in Saskatoon and just kind of, you know, [I] started going there every week doing amateur night … it was going well and so then they invited me to do some spots on the weekend. [T]hen I got invited to do some shows out of town. Next thing you know, I was getting paid to be a working stand-up comedian. Although … technically the first time I did stand-up, I did it twice in high school like a variety night drama night kind of thing. And that went well, it encouraged me enough to take the next step and that was to try it at a club for strangers that I didn’t know.”

I then asked Butt how it was like going from rural Saskatchewan to the big screen.

“It was a very gradual build. I went from Tisdale, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Calgary to Toronto, then Toronto to Los Angeles for about six months. I’ve been living in Vancouver now for 25 years. So, for me it was a gradual step-by-step. When the opportunity came along to do Corner Gas, I had done an hour-long special on Comedy Now on The Comedy Network and I got nominated for a Gemini Award for best comedy performance and I think that kind of put me on the radar of the network to see if I had any TV show ideas.”

With that, I was curious as to how his recent project of turning the live-action Corner Gas series into an animated series.

“The response to season one was amazing; the biggest debut in Comedy Network history and highest rated show on the Comedy Network. So, the response from the people is great. None of us knew if it would be able to translate or if people would want to see it because you’re dealing with a product that people know, and in a lot of cases, people know it and love it. People have really strong feelings about Corner Gas[and] there’s always a risk that people are not going to want the new incarnation of it.”

Then I asked Butt if he had any other new and exciting projects he’d been working on recently, and where he gets his inspiration.

“Just writing scripts and writing a feature film right now that I want to try and get produced. Inspiration [is] all over the place that could really come from anywhere. You know, just as a stand-up you kind of train yourself; your eyes and ears pick up things that could become bits in your act. I always used to carry little pad and paper around with me. I use my phone more now to record thoughts and ideas, but that’s just kind of you know, you go throughout your day, you see something that twigs a thought or sometimes you just have a thought out of the blue. Sometimes you’re working on one thing and it triggers a whole different idea. You just kind of make note of those thoughts and then you have to find time to sit down and actually try and flush them out. And then if it’s stand-up material,  I tend to go down to a club somewhere, and just go up on stage unannounced and see if I can work out five or seven minutes of new material.”

I was curious as to where Canadian comedies are headed or if it has changed much since Butt started in the industry.  

“Yeah, I think there’s a lot more opportunities to create television now in the industry. You know, when I first started out, it was it was difficult to get any network executive interested in any Canadian project because it’s just, you know, it’s an expensive endeavor. It’s much easier and cheaper to buy American programs that are already made but they all have a mandate: they have to do some Canadian programming, thankfully. When I first started out, it was really hard to get the network’s attention, any network – they just weren’t interested. But I [talked to] Mark McKinney from the Kids in the Hall. He said Canadian television will always be divided between pre-Corner Gas and post-Corner Gas because Corner Gas is the number one comedy on TV, U.S. or Canadian. We grew higher than any of the U.S. shows so that kind of opened eyes from TV executives and the notion was, ‘Oh, maybe we can have homegrown shows that actually do well and draw an audience.’ It seems like there are a lot more executives [who] are much more open to hearing Canadian pitches and producing Canadian shows.”

Finally, I talked to Butt about his upcoming trip to Camrose to perform in the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre and what we can expect from that.

“Expect a balding guy talking. Yeah, I mean, it’s just me doing stand-up. One of the things that I love about stand-up is when I’m waiting in the wings ready to go on stage and you know, I kind of know the first couple of bits that I’m going to do, but from that point on it’s a feeling out process and you start adjusting your material based on how the crowd is responding to it. It changes show to show because I don’t always know what bits I’m going to do in what order and that makes it very fun for me.”

Butt will be in Camrose to perform a stand-up comedy show at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre March 19. Tickets are $48.50 and can be purchased from the Lougheed Performing Arts Centre at their Box Office or online at http://www.camroselive.ca.

 

10th Annual Nordlys Ready to “Light Up” Camrose

BY KIRANDEEP SINGH

The 10th Nordlys Film and Arts Festival is coming to Camrose once again, from Feb. 15 to 17 at the Bailey Theatre. Nordlys means “northern lights” and the festival features a wide range of cinema from across Canada and around the world. The festival has a full weekend of films, special guests, and live music. This year’s lineup includes films from Russia, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, USA, and Canada.

One of the highlights of the festival is the guest list of speakers who attend the weekend. This year, speakers will include producer Mary Sexton, director Josh Wong, musician/producer Blake Reid, filmmaker Jenny Rustemeyer, among others.
Each guest will be available to answer questions, talk about their background working on their specific film, and their experience working in the film and Canadian film industry. Over the weekend, there will also be a line-up of local performers will be providing musical entertainment in the Bailey Theatre, including The Blake Reid Band, #9, The Olson Brothers and several others.
The Nordlys Film Festival is important to Camrose as it provides attendees the opportunity to meet guest filmmakers and musicians. It enables people to be able to have wonderful discussions about the films. The aim of the festival is simply offers great films, music, and community. It also gives people a chance to interact with the artists performing. They have board and committee members, sponsors and festival volunteers. They have no paid staff and the festival is completely volunteer run. There is a tradition of wearing “black and white” on the Friday Opening Night. Some people like to really dress up and others just wear black jeans and a white t-shirt or something fun.

For more information, such as ticket price, bios on the guest musicians and filmmakers, and volunteering opportunities, visit the Nordlys’ website.

Photo credit: The Nordlys Facebook

Neighbour Aid: The Camrose Community Helping One Another

By KIRANDEEP SINGH

Neighbor Aid is the non-profit volunteer organization meant to help people in need. It is run by the churches in Camrose, providing outreach to the community. Their name stems off the idea that they are helping as neighbours who are there for each other. They help provide services like soup kitchens, specialty medical transportation, food banks, food for kids, emergency housing and feeding, some financial aid to qualifying individuals, and referrals to agencies and services.

The food bank runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. People who require food assistance need to bring the names of all the individuals in the household, source of income, the reason they require food assistance, proof of residence, and personal ID. From there, they are given a hamper per month that will be based on how Neighbor Aid assess those individuals’ needs.

Donations to the Camrose Neighbor Aid Center can be dropped off at 4524 54 Street, behind the museum building. Neighbor Aid also runs a Morning Bread service that runs on Monday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Camrose Community Church. They run breakfast clubs for children at schools as well. They encourage people to volunteer and help others in need of assistance.

They accepts donations of non-perishable foods such as pasta and sauce, canned fish or meat, peanut butter, powdered milk, soup, canned fruit or vegetables, granola bars, and baby food. They also accept non-food items such as baby diapers, feminine hygiene products, toiletries, soap, shampoo, and deodorant. Neighbor Aid can be contacted at 780-679-3220 or through their email nbaid@cable-lynx.net. More information can found on their website www.neighboraid.ca.