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Identity is a key theme at SkirtsAfire Festival

PREVIEW SkirtsAfire Festival Mar. 7 to 17 Nina Haggerty Gallery, Alberta Avenue Community League, The Carrot, Otto Food and Drink, Winspear Centre 92 St. and 118 Ave. Tickets: Visit www.skirtsafire.


SkirtsAfire Festival

March 7 to 17

Nina Haggerty Gallery, Alberta Avenue Community League, The Carrot, Otto Food and Drink, Winspear Centre

92 St. and 118 Ave.

Tickets: Visit


Now in its seventh year, SkirtsAfire has worked extensively to build a strong female-centric performance and visual arts festival.

As it focuses on women’s stories from March 7 to 17, SkirtsAfire organizers are working closely to celebrate and showcase gender identity.

“This year our theme is identity. We’ve reached out to the LBGTQ community and tried to meet their needs. We’re trying to get stories on the stage of people who live here and are both artists and audience,” said founding artistic director Annette Loiselle.

The 10-day festival is packed with fully mounted theatre productions, plays-in-progress, live music, variety shows, cabarets, film, spoken word and a visual art exhibition at Nina Haggerty Gallery.

“We’ve hired over 100 artists and we’re trying to spread the love. We provide a platform for women who don’t always have a platform. They are professional artists that have stuck around town and create unique performance experiences. Statistics show that 60 per cent of theatregoers are women. This festival allows them to see their own stories,” Loiselle said.

The festival is primarily centred in Edmonton’s northeast Alberta Avenue (118th Street). However this year, SkirtsAfire celebrates International Women’s Day with a special performance by Coeur de pirate live at the Winspear Theatre.

Ten years ago, Béatrice Martin became known throughout the world as Coeur de pirate. The francophone chanteuse has sold more than 1.2 million albums and is touring her fifth studio album – en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé.

“I was familiar with her work and it’s phenomenal. We would not have been able to bring her in without a grant from the Government of Alberta.”

The festival linchpin is three mainstage shows mounted in rotation, often as a doubleheader. Each play focuses on the core idea of identity.

Loiselle first discovered Michelle Todd’s Deep Fried Curried Perogies. In this robust comedy, Todd shares her past tales about a Filipino mother and a Jamaican father. But what happens when the Jamaican Filipino marries a Ukrainian Brit? Will the kids be Jalipinoukrainibritinaidian?

“The play epitomizes identity when a woman finds out she’s pregnant. It’s a feisty comedic memoir.”

Instead Poly Queer Love Ballad is a bold, intimate musical merging slam poetry and catchy pop-folk tunes.

“It stars Sara Vickruck and Anais West and was a huge hit at the Vancouver Fringe. It was the audience pick and won numerous awards.”

The third play, Statue, a Kristina Toske and Céline Chevrier silent narrative uses movement, imagery and music.

Two people discover a nude female body and lend it an article of clothing. The statue comes to life, observes the actors and models their behaviour.

“There are two performers, but the bust becomes its own character.”

For Loiselle, the festival is about discovery whether it’s listening to Carolina Slim, a singer-songwriter from Mexico, dancing to Mercy Funk, relaxing at a yoga workshop or drawing inspiration from a visual arts exhibit.

“This is a happy festival. It will surprise and delight you. And if you’re not sure what it’s about check out our A-Line Variety Show and get a taste of what’s to come.”

Extended information and a complete schedule is available at


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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