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Call for Artists (Calgary): Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre

The Virgin Trial – Alberta Theatre Projects
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Call for Artists (Calgary): Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre


Call for Artists – Discomfort Lab

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre is seeking artists to create original work for a performance series in November 2017, to help us test a draft set of guiding principles!

As part of our work with New Pathways for the Arts, Swallow-a-Bicycle has drafted principles that we’re hoping to use to guide our future work. This summer/fall, we’re testing them out to see which parts resonate and which need to be amended. The draft principles are…

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre fearlessly engages with power structures and the status quo. We absorb, interrogate, reflect and defy the patterns of dominant culture. We create productive discomfort, ask provocative questions and hold a mirror up to society. We prioritize the ‘now’ – urgent issues that need agitation.

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre amplifies the voices of outcasts, misfits, diverse communities and artists who face barriers. We hold ourselves accountable for the discomfort we create; to the communities we encounter; to ethical working practices; and to curiosity and learning.

We flexibly learn about and engage with different sites and artistic practices. Art is the necessary membrane through which all of the above is achieved.

We’re hoping to commission performance work that “fearlessly engages with power structures and the status quo”, that “defies the patterns of dominant culture”, “creates productive discomfort”, “asks provocative questions”, etc.

(In some experiments we’ve already undertaken, folks have pointed out that these principles are a little … serious. Which is intentional! We’re grappling with serious questions and challenges. But Swallow-a-Bicycle has also been known for a sense of fun, humour and irreverence, so don’t be afraid to explore these principles from a lighter or more playful angle.)

Nuts and Bolts

Successful applicants will be given a total budget of $2,000 to create an original performance* inspired by the above principles, in whatever way they choose. Swallow-a-Bicycle will provide support, mentorship and guidance, as desired.

*We envision content that is 15-20 minutes long but we are also willing to consider other formats, like durational or one-on-one performances. If you have an idea outside of what we’ve suggested, don’t hesitate to contact us to chat about it:

We are most interested in new, original work that is developed from scratch based on the principles. We are, however, willing to consider existing work that will be revised or changed to meet the guiding principles. Artists would have to be willing to reexamine and develop the work in a new context.


Successful applicants will be free to determine and structure their own creation processes, but will be asked to meet regularly with Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre and the other participating artists in order to discuss the guiding principles, and how Swallow-a-Bicycle can support both artists and audiences throughout the creation and production period. Part of the experiment will involve garnering feedback from audiences on their experience of the work, and artists on the creation and production process; successful candidates can expect some combination of surveys, interviews and/or conversations about the Discomfort Lab upon its conclusion.

The performances will take place in November 2017 – but exact dates and venue are still TBD! We understand that makes it a bit tricky to apply, but we hope to pin down the details in the next few days and will update this page accordingly. We expect to host 3-4 weekend performances in mid-to-late November. The venue is not likely to be a typical performance space; once it is confirmed, we will share the venue details and would expect successful artists to create work that is suitable for and/or responsive to the venue.

Applications are open to…

  • Individuals or groups
  • Performing artists of any discipline
  • Anyone who self-identifies with any of the following: “outcasts, misfits, diverse communities and artists who face barriers”.

To apply, please email a submission to with the header: Discomfort Lab Submission. Application deadline: Friday, September 15, 2017 at 6:00PM

In your submission, please include:

  • A description of your artistic practice;
  • Any initial ideas you may have for the piece, or prompted by the guidelines provided above;
  • An artistic resume for each team member; and
  • You may also submit additional materials, including: photos, videos, writing samples, surprises.

If you are interested in applying but these requirements create a barrier, please contact us via phone (403.710.0093), email ( or post (#4 714 5A St NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1R4) so we can figure out something that works for you.

About Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre

Swallow-a-Bicycle is Calgary’s scrappy, badass, site-specific theatre for thrill-seekers. Founded in 2006 by Mark Hopkins and Charles Netto, Swallow-a-Bicycle has since worked with more than 350 artists, occupying elevators, +15 corridors, bars, museums, parks, landmarks and the Town of Vulcan. We want our art to interrogate the world around us and push back against forces of ignorance and division.


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