A multidisciplinary arts festival, celebrating women and non-binary artists, is back, coinciding with International Women’s Day, on March 8.
The 10-day SkirtsAfire festival, which runs from March 3 to 13, will celebrate its 10th edition with plenty of festivities on offer including the world premiere of a play Ayita by Teneil Whiskeyjack that promises to both challenge and stimulate you. In addition to theatre, the festival will also include visual art, music, comedy, poetry and workshops at various venues across Old Strathcona.
According to the event’s artistic director, Annette Loiselle, the event and its mandate has changed in the 10 years since it was initially conceptualized to serve female theatre performers who had traditionally been underserved. “Over the years our mandate has changed slightly, because originally the idea was to bring voice to women, but we realized that it’s more complex in the intersections of voices that are underrepresented. And so, we’re now women and non-binary artists, but also just culturally diverse artists whose stories aren’t being heard and really trying to bring those stories to the forefront as well,” she says.
The centrepiece of the event is the mainstage production at the Westbury Theatre. That is Indigenous artist Teneil Whiskeyjack’s play Ayita, which ties into the theme of this year’s event: Tastes Like Truth.
“It’s a powerful woman’s story. And she talks about it as medicine, these stories that she’s bringing to life are like medicine for her community, and it’s her ancestors’ story. It carries the weight of generations. It truly is a fusion of theatre and contemporary Indigenous dance. And in the lobby of the Westbury Theatre, where you have the Fringe Grounds Cafe, we’ve got some installation artwork that really ties in with the story,” says Loiselle.
In addition to the mainstage production, there are plenty of other venues with a host of artistic events including the old Army and Navy space that has been transformed with interactive art installations; it will host both music and comedy nights. In short, there’s something for everyone with an artistic bent.
“You know, so much of it depends on where your interest lies. If you really like music there are two nights that are all music at the Army and Navy space. If you really like comedy, there’s two nights that are all comedy,” Loiselle says.