DaPoPo Theatre’s month of fun days

The Live-In Festival is “a chance to learn and grow for just about anyone”

Live-In Festival gives you space to talk it out. - ASHLEY PETTIPAS
Live-In Festival gives you space to talk it out.

Live-In Festival
Saturday, October 1-Tuesday, October 31
Various venues, suggested donation

DaPoPo Theatre company's Live-In Festival is a unique breed. Spanning the city through October, the fest invites arts professionals and newbies alike to go behind the scenes of theatrical performance. From workshops to readings of unpublished plays, Live-In is a series that will inspire all kinds of performance enthusiasts.

Now in its seventh year, the festival started out as a way for DaPoPo to pay rent. As artistic director Garry Williams recalls, the company needed a rehearsal space, but lacked the funds to get one. So DaPoPo rented a space and programmed workshops when it wasn't in use to bring in extra cash. What began as a practical decision uncovered a community demand. "It's had a life of its own," says Williams. "People loved it."

Live-In is accessible to people for all experience levels. Williams remembers a 10-year-old participant in his songwriting workshop awhile back. Though her skill set differed from others', Williams says he met her where she was. "We just talked about what rhymes were," he says. After a few hours of independent work, the group of veteran and brand-new songwriters shared their work together, levelling the ground. This is the essence of the festival: It's a chance to learn and grow for just about anyone.

Live-In is community funded—with six core people volunteering to coordinate the series, and a larger group of folks who help it run smoothly. Individual events are paid by suggested donation. "So, the audience truly pays the artists who are presenting, in a very literal way," says Williams, who stresses this element's importance. "For us it feels very honest. They almost become producers, presenters, along with us."

Providing the audience with agency is central to DaPoPo's values. A grassroots venture founded in 2004, the company strives to be an inclusive "people's theatre." Its open door policy and attention to accessible topics (like the struggle of day jobs, for example) makes DaPoPo a forum for discussion rather than just entertainment.

There's a lot to look forward to with this year's fest, says Williams, but one event is pumping him up in particular. DaPoPo is hosting Toronto-based theatre group [elephants] Collective for a 24-hour performance event. Collaborating with a handful of Halifax artists, this monstrously lengthy piece is an intense undertaking. Audience members will be invited to pop by for portions of the event (or the entirety, if you're brave). Williams can't wait to see what happens.

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