In exchange for ripping tickets during three performances, we got a tee-shirt, an invitation to a wine and cheese opener and final night after-party, and most importantly, the chance to see some of the performances. What a deal.
Although we had previous commitments preventing us from coming back to see plays on other nights, we were able to watch two sold-out dramatic performances and the first installment of the music series on opening night.
I was really taken with the first play, Destroy. Two best friends, disenchanted with their lives in Calgary, take a road trip, looking for adventure and their true home. With their destination unknown, they let themselves be guided by their whims and their dwindling pocketbooks.
WIth a minimum of props being used with maximum ingenuity, Destroy relied upon solid writing, brought to life by believably natural performances. The narrator, Simon, and the instigator/driver, Tom, encounter hostile border guards, Mexican shop owners, and willing women, all of whom are portrayed with disturbing authority by the backing musicians.
The second play of the evening, Waiting on the Thunder, was less successful. The story of an increasingly brutal encounter between a self-described soccer mom and her ex-boyfriend didn't really work for me. The acting, perhaps the result of too much scenery-chewing, felt very acted to me. And I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief during the flip-flopping of intentions between the two characters.
The two musicians we heard during the evening's Music Series could not have been more different from one another.
Chris Beaudry opened with an acoustic set of highly personal songs. Although obviously heartfelt, the original songs did all start to sound very much the same after a while, and I felt that the 30 minute set would have benefitted from some variation in his song choices. He did have a strongly enthusiastic following in attendance, though, which was very nice and made me feel less badly about drifting off into my own thoughts during his set.
I did enjoy the originality of Lindsay Brandon's set. A one woman performer who goes by the moniker Information Agent, she played short quirky songs accompanied by arty visuals projected against the brick walls of the room. Using looping instrumentals which she produced from equipment set up on a vintage ironing board, she accompanied her quite lovely voice with building looping harmonies. I'm not entirely sure how Information Agent's music would translate into digital form, but with the accompanying visuals, it was quite compelling.
I wish I had not waited so many years to finally take in Sage Theatre's IGNITE! festival, because obviously I have been missing some exciting new work coming from emerging artists. Some of it was more successful than the rest, granted, but it's always exciting to see fresh new work.
Creativity obviously abounds.