Upcoming festival a joint effort to stage live theatre, improv, music and variety acts

The Remergence Festival, beginning May 5, is the combined effort of Western Canada Theatre and Chimera Theatre

An online performing arts festival is in the works, a collaboration between two groups: the long-established Western Canada Theatre and the fringe-friendly Chimera Theatre.

In a way, the Remergence Festival is how some performance groups in the city will mark the end of their pandemic-induced live audience prohibition.

At least, they hope.

"We're hoping this is the last online event, and come the fall we'll be vaccinated, healthy, safe and back to live performances. So let's do this, do it big and go out with a bang," said Chimera Theatre president Aaron Shufletoski.

From May 5 to May 15, virtual viewers can catch 24 local acts, providing live theatre, music, improv and variety. Tickets are being sold by the evening, and each evening will include two acts with a musical interlude.

Performers will be live from two stages each night, with musicians set up at the Stage House Theatre and performances taking the stage at the Pavilion Theatre.

A free family matinee is also on the docket for May 8, including improv act Shakes and Shimmies, music from Kiki the Eco Elf and Why Coyote No Longer Wears Moccasins by Chris Bose.

Festival acts include singer and storyteller Devon More, improv group The Freudian Slips, Kamloops Burlesque, musician-actors Cvetozar Vutev and Curtis Howell, among others. Among the musical acts are Suz and Johnny, Margit Sky Project, Mother Sun, The Decoys, Jeremy Kneeshaw, Shawna Palmer and Dave Coalmine Band.

The nightly trio of acts will begin at 7 p.m. each night.

When Chimera Theatre and WCT were both looking at online formats for their upcoming festivals, Shufletoski and WCT artistic director James MacDonald came to the same conclusion: do it together.

"I think this is the first time we've had both our names on a poster," Shufletoski said of the collaboration.

Chimera Theatre began holding Hydra Festival in 2018. It was set for another go-round this year. Shufletoski said Chimera had its acts ready to go for Hydra Festival, but questions around its venue remained. That was solved when the opportunity to collaborate with WCT came about.

Despite the Hydra Festival catering more toward fringe acts and WCT's reputation as a professional theatre company, Shufletoski said the two groups have a good fit.

"One could say this is a deal with the devil... has Chimera sold out?" Shufletoski said, laughing.

"But no. It's just realizing that we're a small city, and there's no room in a small city for cliques. We have to get everybody involved, especially in a pandemic like this," he said.

Shufletoski said WCT has been very gracious and understanding that its acts are "a little kooky, a little out there."

"We weren't pushed aside, we were brought into the fold and treated as equals, and that's fantastic," he told KTW.

A special event is also planned for the opening and closing nights of the festival. Participants can meet via Gather Town, a video-game-like platform that combines a virtual environment — in this case, the Pavilion Theatre lobby and stage — and video chat, enabling groups to mingle and converse.

"So anybody attending opening and closing nights will come to the Pavilion theatre virtually — and you'll be able to bump into people," Shufletoski said.

Nightly passes are $20 and include all performances for each night. Festival passes are also available for $150.

For tickets and a complete list of acts and artists, go online to remergencefestival.ca.

© Kamloops This Week