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Saturday, May 18, 2024

OutFest turns three

Atlantic Canada's largest queer arts festival is set to return to Halifax stages from April 23 to 28.

Atlantic Canada’s largest queer arts festival, OutFest, is set to return for its third year.

This festival is not just about providing a platform for queer artists; it’s about reflecting our community’s stories on stage. – Isaac Mulè

The festival, which has become a valuable outlet for queer artists in the region, will showcase a mix of completed works and emerging creations from local, regional, and national talents.

With two festivals now under its belt and its proven formula, artistic director Isaac Mulè has expanded from theatre and dance to include music and comedy this year. “We’re thrilled about the expansion of OutFest,” he says. “Our new partnerships have allowed us to nearly double our programming, offering a rich tapestry of queer narratives that are often left untold.”

OutFest will feature mainstage performances such as Lou Campbell’s Prude, a mix of stand-up and drag that delves into the complexities of asexuality. First appearing at Eastern Front Theatre’s Stages Festival, the show has since made waves nationwide.

Isaac Mulè
“Whether you’re queer or you’re an ally, you’re going to find something within each of the shows.” – artistic director Isaac Mulè (above).

Another highlight is Kiss The Stormy Sky by Sid Ryan Eilers. This contemporary dance piece explores personal history and queer existence through a blend of storytelling and movement. The show includes original music from queer Black singer-songwriter and composer Shn Shn.

The festival also includes an emerging stage series spotlighting up-and-coming artists from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Ontario. “100 percent of ticket sales for the emerging artists goes directly to the artist, so it is a great way to support these up-and-coming artists,” says Mulè.

One of the shows appearing on this year’s emerging stage at the Bus Stop Theatre from April 23-28 is The Unnatural Disaster Theatre Co. production of Robyn Vivian’s Deeper.

Told through a series of flashbacks and old letters and set in an underwater world that reflects the island above it, Deeper is a queer love story about a group of women living in 80s and 90s Newfoundland. “Audiences can expect an inventive fusion of text, movement, and music [wrapping] around an impactful story that urges them to hold onto love,” says director Logan Robins.

A scene from the 2022 production of Deeper. Photo by Stoo Metz.
A scene from the 2022 production of Deeper. Photo by Stoo Metz.

In addition, the festival will present Everyone’s Story, a show tailored for young audiences that combines shadow puppetry, music, and storytelling, as well as a staged reading of Riley Reign’s Pushed. Comedy and music stages will offer additional entertainment, with local comedians and musicians like Jade Bennett and Natasha Sophia set to perform.

“This festival is not just about providing a platform for queer artists; it’s about reflecting our community’s stories on stage,” says Mulè. “Our patrons deserve to see their lives and experiences represented in the art they witness.”

In addition to the performances, OutFest will host Say Hello, an informal meet-and-greet with the artists, and Vandal Doughnuts will even feature a specialty doughnut available the week of OutFest.

“Whether you’re queer or you’re an ally, you’re going to find something within each of the shows,” says Mulè. “And while the main focus is on gender and sexuality, there are many underlying themes that anyone can relate to.”

OutFest 2024 will take place from April 23 to 28 at The Bus Stop Theatre, The Carleton, and Roxy Live. For more information, visit pg1-theatre.com.

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