The show must go on at UNO Festival (online, that is)

The Intrepid Theatre Company is hoping to turn adversity into an opportunity as they take their annual UNO Festival online for the first time, April 27 to May 9.

The annual event, the longest running solo performance festival in North America, was in danger of being cancelled due to restrictions on public gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Using the old show business adage: “The show must go on,” organizers have opted to bring the festival to the audience.

“We really wanted to keep it happening, keep it alive” said Sean Guist, co-artistic director of the theatre company. “The first question was: ‘How can we pivot to provide the audience with a digital performance?’ Once we realized that we could rise to meet the challenge, the next question became: ‘Might we reach even more audiences with the new format?’ ”

The online format is an experiment — a way to keep art and performance alive — while people are isolated at home.

The at-home audience can experience full shows online, listen to interviews with the artists and watch video content from new shows in development.

There will be a mixture of free and paid content. Festivals organizers are committed to paying the artists.

Taking the event online will make the festival available to a wider audience, said Guist.

“For the first time we will bring the theatre to their homes, wherever that may be,” he said. “That’s great for the festival — as well as great exposure for the artists performing the solo shows.”

People can free stream performances on social media, on the website or join in Facebook happy hours with artists and artistic staff.

There will also be paid content online that you unlock when you buy a ticket.

With Intrepid Theatre losing revenue because of the restrictions on gatherings, it is asking Victorians to consider making a tax-deductible donation.

Intrepid Theatre Company’s other major production, the Victoria Fringe Festival, is still scheduled to take place in August.

Guist said that the company will have a final decision on June 1 about what will happen with this year’s Fringe Festival.

The full schedule of UNO shows and free online events, as well as ticketing options, will be available next week. For more information, go to

Artists and performers

Local artists and performers on Week 1 include:

  • The Book of My Shames — Isaiah Bell and Sean Guist (co-production with with Pacific Opera Victoria)
  • But Wait! There’s More! — J McLaughlin
  • Gemini — Lindsay Delaronde

Artists and performers from across Canada on Week 2 include:

  • Monstrous — Sarah Waisvisz (performing from Ottawa)
  • Sansei: The Storyteller — Kunji Mark Ikeda (Calgary)
  • Who Killed Gertrude Crump? — Tara Travis (Vancouver)

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