Although In the Soil started as primarily a music festival, it has always played a big role in supporting local and emerging theatre groups as well as bringing in work from around the country. With 11 theatre and comedy acts lined up (not including the handful of theatrical pieces involved in the RHIZOMES and Suitcase in Point’s festival-end cabaret) this year is no different. The success of the Performing Arts Centre – still new at just over a year old – and In the Soil’s continuing partnership with Brock University and the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts means there are more venues than ever for theatrical work to blossom, and more chances to see some truly unique local and touring productions. Here’s a brief rundown of what to expect from this year’s theatre and comedy productions.

from MSM [men seeking men] by lemontree Creations

Toronto company lemontree Creations will be presenting MSM [men seeking men], a dance theatre piece that originally debuted at the Toronto Fringe in 2013 to critical acclaim before having its world debut at the 2014 WorldPride Festivities. Inspired by transcripts of conversations between men seeking men online, MSM aims to explore and deconstruct online masculine personas and desire. Audience members are not only allowed but encouraged to use their phones – especially any dating apps they might have – during the performance to connect and talk with locals, fellow audience members, and even the performers themselves.

from Let’s Try This Standing by Keep Good (Theatre) Company

Other incoming productions include Re:Current Theatre’s This Is What I Know, a multimedia stand-up/live art piece about sexuality and coming out, as well as Let’s Try This Standing by Halifax’s Keep Good (Theatre) Company, written and performed by Gillian Clark of Tarragon Theatre’s 2016/17 playwrights unit. Clown duo Philip and Lucinda of The Grand Salto Theatre – who played the festival several years ago – are returning with The Philip and Lucinda Dino-Show, an acrobatic, comedic, family-friendly affair. Kyle Golemba and Alex White will perform their CanCon-cabaret Making Love in a Canoe, full of Canadian references, witticisms, and music.

A number of local companies will be joining the festival, as will a number of faculty members and students from the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Stolen Theatre Collective will be presenting The Ash Mouth Man, a collaboratively devised piece directed by Dramatic Arts faculty member Gyllian Raby. Danielle Wilson, also an instructor, will be performing alongside actors Fede Holten-Anderson, Sean McClelland, and Colin Anthes (both McClelland and Anthes are Dramatic Arts graduates). The Ash Mouth Man, a film noir-esque dark comedy about eating disorders and dentistry, debuted in the fall of 2016 in St. Catharines, and incorporates puppetry, music, and dance and physical theatre.

Other local productions include My Dad’s Last Name is Guilt, written and performed by Genevieve Jones, The ADHD Project by Welland theatre collective Squirrel Suit Productions, and GNAW, performed by the Myer’s Masked Marauders theatre troupe from A.N. Myers Secondary School and in partnership with Brock University.

Bonez Poley

There’s some fantastic home-grown comedy acts lined up too, with KO Improv performing their original improv format Everyone is Alex on the Friday night at 11pm, and Bonez Poley delivering her sardonic, testimonial stand-up Sunday at 9pm. And, as always, Suitcase in Point will be closing out the festival with their legendary Dirty Cabaret. We hope to see you there on Sunday night to put another fantastic festival weekend to bed, but, before you do, be sure to indulge in the explosion of theatrical work all weekend long.

-Hayley Malouin, Social Media