Tag Archives: free-man on the land

Azimuth Theatre’s Free-man on the Land – better than its blurb!

Free-man on the Land, playing at the Roxy Theatre on 124 Street, is the most unconventional or postmodern performance I have seen since the Fringe Festival.  And it’s fun!  It was both more playful and more provocative than I expected, and less of a humourless rant (or to keep the alliteration, I could say polemic).   The handbill description really doesn’t make it sound as interesting as it is.

I saw a preview show, with the theatre not very full, so I sat in the second row with nobody in the first row.  When I realised at the start that the narrator was ignoring the fourth wall and other conventions of theatre, I suddenly wondered if I would regret being so visible – and of course they called on me, but I think I responded well (all this improv training is coming in handy!)

I’ve read a bit about the Free-man on the Land movement and some of its proponents.  This Edmonton Journal article is one of the more entertaining bits.  I have a lot of sympathy for many people who call themselves anarchists whom I might describe as grassroots activists, but the FOTL thing has me sort of scratching my head and backing away, in general.

In the play, there’s enough story shown and hinted to make the main character (the man commonly known as Richard Svoboda, played by Des Parenteau) interesting and to suggest how he developed his views.  His attitudes bring him into conflict with his partner, played by Dale Ladouceur, who also sings several original songs during the show while accompanying herself on a Chapman Stick.  Her character isn’t quite as interesting as Richard, but more than a foil.  Other parts (a narrator and his chorus or counterfoil, a taxman, a court-appointed defence lawyer, a former employer, etc) were played by director Murray Utas and playwright Steve Pirot.

The Azimuth Theatre production of Free-man on the Land is playing at the Roxy until Sunday January 27th.  If you like weird theatre, you should go see it.

January playbill

I’d noticed before that sometimes food businesses with a holiday rush sometimes close for vacation in January – bakeries, restaurants, vendors at Strathcona Farmers’ Market.  But I’d never noticed before this year that theatres and performance spaces might also be dark at the start of the year.  It seems a little counterintuitive that there isn’t much to watch between Christmas and New Years, when people with academic schedules might have time off and be done their pre-Christmas to-do lists, but it does make sense for performers to take a break after New Year’s, when it’s cold and dark and the viewing public might be feeling frugal or unsociable.

Both Rapid Fire Theatre and Die-Nasty were dark between Christmas and New Year’s, but then jumped right back in to their weekly entertainments.  Rapid Fire is now filling up Ziedler Hall for many of their Friday-night and Saturday-night shows, so fans should buy tickets on line or line up early.

Other companies have been in rehearsal, meaning that several shows are opening this week.  The new Canadian opera Svadba, in Serbian with English subtitles, is playing at C103, the space formerly known as Catalyst Theatre.  Azimuth Theatre previews Free-man on the land at the Roxy starting Tuesday (tickets here).  A Clown Double Bill opens Tuesday at The TACOS Space in that awkward bit of neighbourhood that nobody can decide whether to call Ritchie, CPR Irvine, or “you know, behind Wunderbar, there” (tickets through Tix on the Square). Westbury Theatre, Transalta Arts Barns, welcomes the musical Legally Blonde starting Wednesday.

Deep Freeze Festival wraps up (see what I did there) today, Ice on Whyte sparkles in a couple of weeks, and ForkFest fills up January.  So if you’ve been hibernating the last couple of weeks, it’s  time to bundle up and check out what’s happening in Edmonton entertainment.