NAC to present two plays slated for cancelled Magnetic North festival

A look at STO Union's Trophy. Photo: Allison O'Connor

Canada Scene will present two shows originally programmed for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, which announced Wednesday it was cancelling its 2017 festival originally set for this June because of severe financial problems. The festival was to stage seven productions.

The National Arts Centre, which produces Canada Scene, has confirmed it is adding Trophy by Ottawa/Gatineau’s STO Union and Making Treaty 7 from Calgary’s Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society to the lineup of Canada Scene, a major celebration of national culture produced by the NAC that runs in Ottawa June 15-July 23.

Café Daughter by Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre of Edmonton, a Canada Scene/Magnetic North co-presentation previously scheduled for Canada Scene, remains in the lineup.

STO Union’s Trophy is an interactive performance installation comprising 150 pop-up tents on George Street in the ByWard Market. Inside each tent is a performer who tells a story about something that changed their lives. It’s up to audience members what they do with the information.

Making Treaty 7 (Calgary) looks back at the 1877 signing of that treaty by Queen Victoria and the five First Nations of southern Alberta. It also gazes into the future and better possibilities.

Based on the life of Chinese-Canadian neuroscientist and Senator Lillian Eva Quan Dyck, Café Daughter maps the hierarchy of racism in Canada.

The shows originally scheduled for Magnetic North but now cancelled are The Tashme Project: The Living Archives by Tashme Productions (Montreal /Ottawa), Foreign Radical  by Theatre Conspiracy (Vancouver), Crash by Soulpepper Theatre Company (Toronto), I’m Doing This for You by Haley McGee (Toronto), and Home is a Beautiful Word by Belfry Theatre ( Victoria, BC).

In cancelling Magnetic North earlier this week, Mike Hawkes, chair of the Canadian Theatre Festival Society, which produces Magnetic North, told Artsfile that “The financial obligations that the festival has (incurred) exceed our capacity to … (present the festival).” He said that recent triggers, including the festival’s inability to acquire grants that it had been anticipating, led to the decision to cancel the festival.

Magnetic North was established in 2003. It was held in Ottawa bi-annually and in other Canadian communities every other year. The festival’s annual budget is about $1 million and it was carrying an accumulated deficit of $224,000 and faced a further shortfall of $150,000 this season. The festival employed five full-time staff as well as three contract employees.

Canada Scene unveils its full lineup April 4.

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Patrick Langston covered English professional theatre for the Ottawa Citizen from 2008 to 2016. He also wrote about music, travel, the local housing industry and other subjects for the paper. Patrick continues to contribute to Ottawa Magazine, Diplomat and International Canada Magazine, and other publications.