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'Everything in one' Ridge Theatre Festival debuts in Banff this weekend

Live theatre makes a "big and bold" return to Banff this weekend.

BANFF – Live theatre is making a "big and bold" return to Banff this weekend.

The inaugural Ridge Theatre Festival, a locally grown performance arts showcase by Banff Theatre Collective, is taking stage at The Radiant in downtown Banff from Saturday to Monday (Oct. 23-25) for three days of laughs, drama, and live theatre's long-awaited return to audiences.

"This is created for the community," said Timothy Eckmier, festival creative director and producer. "It's not created for tourists, it's not created for money, it's literally created for the community.

"We've had a year-and-a-half of artists sitting around and not able to do things. We've had some online performances ... but we haven't been able to do what we do and so this is such a great chance for us to come out of this dry spell so big and bold and to kind of just say, 'art is still here, we're going to make it and it's been a tough year and we're going to share this.'"

Over three days, Ridge Theatre Festival will feature a variety of scripted one-act shows and off-the-top-of-the-head improv performances from local Thespians of all ages for audiences ranging from children to the late-night crowd.

Shows include Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, Cleaning for the Prime Minister and Other Delusions, Head Games, Questionable Fairy Tales, Simon's Wife, and This is a Play, and improv shows from Bad Altitude Improv, Mountain Improv Alliance, and Joedog Nolanaire.

Eckmier said when the Banff Theatre Collective formed six years ago, the goal had been always to start producing scripted shows and produce more opportunities for locals. He received a Family and Community Support Services Building Bridges grant through the Town of Banff and through a connection at The Radiant, Ridge Theatre Festival was able to take form.

"I'm an actor and I've stepped into a producing/directing role so that I can act, and so that we have these opportunities in Banff," he said. "I've lived here for a long time and decided I wanted to be able to have art as a recreation in Banff.

"Everyone always intermingles between these [local theatre and arts] groups, but we've never had a festival that kind of has everything in one. I think this is going to be very bonding for the theatre community in the Bow Valley."

Performers from Pine Tree Players, based out of Canmore, jumped on the opportunity to be a part of the festival.

"People are hungry for it and I think that goes for the audience members as well as performers actually," said Jen Tweddell, producer at Pine Tree Players. "Anything Pine Tree Players can do to support other local theatre groups, we will do. We're very happy to see this happen and very happy there's opportunities for the performers that flow between the different organizations that put on live shows and we look forward to seeing something like this hopefully happening on an annual basis."

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the local arts and entertainment scene was active in finding ways to have virtual performances to reach audiences in the Bow Valley and beyond. 

However, now with Alberta's Restrictions Exemption Program, it has paved the way for the option of live theatre to return under government guidelines.

"I think this is an incredible opportunity for Banff and members of the community," said Eckmier. "It's a great chance for them to see what's been going on behind the scenes to experience theatre in Banff after a year of a complete shutdown or more."

For tickets and showtimes, visit www.theradiantbanff.ca/events.

For more information on the shows, visit www.ridgefestival.ca.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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