I love artistic festivals. Whether it’s a music festival, theatre festival, or even a food festival — chefs have to be artistic with their medium too — you’ll always find that if I’m there, I’m having a great time. Patron, performer, or guest, I’ll easily have fun in any of those roles.
I’ve had the privilege of being a regular part of a few festivals over the years. One of them is an annual all-around arts festival created and run by Back Burner Productions, a theatre company I’ve been involved with since my university days. Titled the “What Are You Doing Up There?!” Festival (this year due to it’s upstairs-located venue) this festival is a multi-evening affair full of many friends, many new networks, and a whole lot of talented acts and artists from what seems like every field imaginable. I am usually involved as a musician (as I was this round) but you can see script readings, poetry, improv, comedy sketch troupes, short films, photography and visual artist galleries, handmade crafts, and even handmade puppets of all kinds, including shadow.
Aside from being an amazingly supportive event with many encouraging people to play for, it’s just a great festival to take risks and try new things with your art, as everybody who comes to these shows are there to take the journey with you. It’s the perfect place to have a good time performing with a positive vibe and still get constructive feedback to help your art grow and evolve. And, of course, it’s an excellent networking and collaboration opportunity. And that’s true even with the high amount of patrons who return annually because they usually spread word to fellow artists who haven’t heard of it before.
And ultimately it’s this kind of connection, this feeling of love and support, that make many festivals enjoyable. It’s not just a single show or single act that you’ve come to experience. It’s a multitude of happenings, complete with a buzz of energy from the crowd, ready to take in material new and old and to celebrate their love for whatever it is the festival is about. It’s a collective form of expression.
And often times the closing night, such as the one I just played for, run an after party that I just can’t deny, due to the good, familiar company present, which explains why this post is so late. (Worth it, though. Every time.)
A photo from a previous iteration of this festival, when it was titled “What Are You Doing Down There?!” due to its downstairs location: