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What’s On (Edmonton): Escape Velocity and other works – Undercurrent Theatre

What’s On (Edmonton): Escape Velocity and other works – Undercurrent Theatre

10012763_10153952772705374_1369739286_oUndercurrent Theatre presents a week of performances, installation, and workshops:

a festival of performing arts exploring love, violence, and bodies in space

– All performances are pay-what-you-can
– ASL interpretation will provided Friday April 4th at 7:30pm and Saturday April 5th at 2pm
– Information about physical accessibility will be posted soon



Escape Velocity
April 2-6 at 7:30pm & April 5 at 2:00pm

What happens to the body in space? What does it take to escape from another body’s gravitational pull? In the absence of gravity, tears don’t fall out of your eyes: they stick together and form a ball. Following 2013’s (un)earthed, Undercurrent Theatre’s second original creation Escape Velocity is an exploration of gender-based violence in our communities. It was devised by the company based on lived experiences and in ongoing consultation with community members, including artists, activists, social workers, police officers, journalists, teachers, researchers, mothers, daughters, and more. We invite you into this project with celestial love and hope for the future.

Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault, physical/emotional violence, and racism.

Created by the cast & director
Facilitated and directed by Nikki Shaffeeullah
Performed by Saima Butt, Neelam Chattoo, Aliya Jamal, Rebecca John, & Natalia Knowlton
Stage management by J Brooke Leifso
Set design by Athena Photinopoulos
Costume design by Sarah C Louise
Sound design by Rob Johnson
Lighting design by Amy Chow


Colonial Cravings | April 2-6 Ongoing (Performance April 2 @ 7pm)
Downton Abbey! Tea with milk! Order and hierarchy! (Not) everything is yours for the taking at Colonial Cravings, but you can try! Escape from the world, confess your desires, but please speak proper English and don’t bargain – prices are fixed. An installation in the lobby of the Azimuth, with a performance on the evening of April 2 at 7pm.
Created by Aliya Jamal | Featuring Sahana Parameswara and Syma
Installation consulting by Laine Wannechko



Chola Face | April 4 @ 7:30pm & April 6 @ 2:00pm
She’s put on a Chola Face and tonight’s she’ll be your hookup to Latino culture on the dance floor. But what happens when a (real) Latina who’s just moved from Mexico joins the party? Battle. Get ready for a reggeaton-style rap throwdown.
Created and performed by Natalia Knowlton
Guest appearance by Thais Polo | Rap/Reggeaton Dramaturgy by Alastair Robertson

My Other Self | April 5 @ 7:30pm
An anecdotal study of personal myths and misconceptions surrounding racial and cultural identity. The half/partial/bi/multi-truths and lies that we grow up believing about our bodies, ourselves, and where we come from, as racialized children making sense of our otherness.
Curated by Rebecca John
Performed by Alex Felicitas, Amy Chow, Athena Photinopoulos and Rebecca John
With stories from the performers, Arun Bhaumik, Evan Smith, Jaclyn Dang, Kassia Celeste, Leah Baclig, Lynda Morris, Miya Abe, Noori Gill, Nathan Loitz and others…

From and To | April 6 @ 7:30pm & April 6 @ 2:00pm
A movement piece exploring what is passed on through generations and our relationship with the roots on which we stand. A journey inspired by the words of women in our families, From and To draws on the voices of the performer’s own mother and maternal grandmother and allows for a unique glance into how we relate to and interpret what is said as we grow.
Created and performed by Neelam Chattoo
Featuring the voices of Khairun Mavani and Shamima Chattoo
Sound design by Zachary Polis | Movement coaching by Kathleen Ochoa



We are pleased to offer community workshops open to those interested in discovering how the performing arts can be used to explore themes of gender, culture, & anti-violence.
Space in the universe may be unlimited but space in the workshops is, unfortunately, not: there are 12 spots available in each. To apply for a spot, please email with your name and a few lines outlining your interest. There is no cost to participate, all abilities are welcome, and no experience is required.

Drama as Self-Care | Tues April 1 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Drama therapy is inherently a spiritual endeavour that connects mind, body, heart and soul. In this workshop, participants will use theatre-based processes to safely explore traumatic experiences of violence and to investigate the role of drama in health, healing, and self-care.

Facilitated by Michelle J Buckle, CCC, RDT, R.Psych

Occupying the Body: Exploring decolonization through embodied performance | Thurs April 3 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Why do we inadvertently abandon our cultural identities by submitting to the dominant culture? Which methodologies can we use to empower and decolonize ourselves, while preserving and honouring our heritage and body image both on stage and beyond? This workshop explores the political and aesthetic realities of race, gender, sexuality, feminism, colonization, and continuance through applied theatre practice.
Facilitated by Michelle Rios , MFA

About the Workshop Facilitators:

Michelle J Buckle, CCC, RDT, R.Psych is a Registered Psychologist who holds a Masters of Counselling, a Certified Canadian Counsellor Certificate, a Postgraduate Diploma in Dramatherapy, and a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Psychology and Dramatic Arts. She is registered with the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. Michelle integrates drama therapy, play therapy and the arts into her counselling and consulting business. Working with children, teens, adults and their families, she finds that people are spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual and physical beings on a journey seeking balance in all areas.

Michelle Rios, MFA has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe in countless theatrical, operatic & concert venues. Some of her many credits include featured roles in the Tony Award nominated Broadway productions of Paul Simon’s The Capeman, The Sound of Music, In the Heights, and Man of La Mancha. Her film and TV credits include Law & Order, Third Watch, Washington Heights, Dirt, and as Flora, opposite Academy Award nominee Ed Harris, in the upcoming feature film Frontera. A Metropolitan Opera Mid-Atlantic Semi-finalist, she has performed with luminaries in the popular music world, such as Grammy Award winners Paul Simon, Marc Anthony, and Ruben Blades and has also shared the operatic stage with renowned tenor Placido Domingo. Born in Puerto Rico, Ms. Rios currently resides in Edmonton and possesses an MFA in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta Department of Drama.


Escape Velocity and other works: a festival of performing arts exploring love, violence and bodies in space
is produced by Undercurrent Theatre

We gratefully acknowledge the support of our sponsors:
Edmonton Arts Council and Alberta Public Interest Research Group – APIRG

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