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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Checking out the Edmonton Street Performer's Festival in Winston Churchill Square

One of the very cool benefits for me of working at the Citadel Theatre is that I right next door to Winston Churchill Square.  I knew the Square was busy in the summer, but until I was walking by it on an almost daily basis I didn't quite get the scope of it.  Last week, The Works was in full force and we even had some art in our lobby, and this week (starting last Friday, July 4th) The International Street Performers Festival is in full swing.  I took some time on Friday to walk around and check out the activity and it brought back for me, many memories of previous visits to the Festival.

Years ago (in the late 1980s), when I was in University I had a job just North of Downtown and I had a bus transfer right at Edmonton City Centre.  I would hop off the bus with my lunch, take a walk to the Square and enjoy whatever was going on.  My favorite week was the Street Performers Festival.  Coming from a smaller city I had never seen anything like it before.  I couldn't believe that I was able to see such performers, right there, and all it would cost me was my applause and what I could afford to toss in the hat at the end of the show. I loved watching the kids react and thought it was a fabulous way to introduce children especially to theatre.

The Festival has grown up a lot since those early days, but the spirit at the centre of it remains the same.  It's definitely about bringing unique performance art to everyone.  The price is the same for everyone - whatever you can afford - and that is fabulous!  Now there are Food Trucks and lovely shaded seating areas for those who want to enjoy the atmosphere nearby.  I really like the way they have the space laid out.  The Food trucks have their own lane and you can scoot over for a green onion cake or butter chicken or whatever else suits you and then head back for more performances in the square.  There are face painting stations and a special Kid's section complete with bouncy castles - perfect for the wee ones who might need to stretch their legs after sitting and watching.  On Friday, I took in a bit of two performance circles - varied in what they presented.  One was a trio of dancers who combined exceptional physicality with a brilliant sense of humour. The other was a juggling type of a performer who you could tell was an expert on engaging the audience and making them feel like they were an important part of his performance.

I've been back since the Opening to catch a glimpse here and there at lunch time of the shows on the square and to get a taste of my favorite festival fare! It's been perfect weather and it looks like it's going to hold for an absolutely wonderful week!  Check it out!

A Special Note: For those of you who think that this is a just-for-kids event, I would wager that you would be very impressed by the quality of the acts AND there are special Late Night events on July 11th and 12th at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre hosted by Trevor Schmidt with music by Darrin Hagen.  Tickets are required for this and are available in advance.  This show is specifically for the grown-ups and starts at 11:11 p.m. both nights!

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