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Owl Poetry open mic celebrating first anniversary

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 If you’re a poet and you know it, then show it at the Owl Acoustic Lounge’s monthly poetry open mic.
The group celebrates their  first anniversary on the Owl stage with  poems, trees and possibly cake and Shaw TV, July 24.

Cat Charissage and Teri Petz  have enjoyed hosting the Owl Poetry Open mic for the past year. Photo by Richard Amery
 While local poets have  bared their souls and worn their hearts on their sleeves for a year at the open mic, the roots of the group lie in co-organizer Cat Charissage’s living room, two years ago.
“ Teri was always the most enthusiastic about it,” Charissage said, adding she would hold a variety of special workshops in her home.
“At first, it was just a chance for people to share their love for poetry, it wasn’t  about original work at  at all,” she continued, adding one of of the few rules for the poetry open mic is that all works must be originals and performers  must keep to five minutes to allow everyone a chance to perform.

“ Though we haven’t had to use the hook on anybody yet,” she laughed.
“She had a poetry and story circle happening,” enthused co-organizer Teri Petz.
“So when that ended, I wanted to continue and we were looking for  another location. I went to the lady at the library and she suggest I talk to Steve at the Owl and he asked over the phone if we were interested in doing a poetry open mic every month,” said Petz, noting the event turned out to be more popular than she expected.
“ For the first one, we had four or five people we knew would perform, because we didn’t know how many people would show up. Now we have at least 20 people  performing, and we always have new people,” Petz continued.

The open mics draw poets from aged 8 to 85 and everywhere in between, including published poets and people who have never been in front on a microphone before.
“We have all of these different people talking about different things from young women talking about break ups. We have an 85-year-old man talking about losing his wife who had never been in front of a microphone before. And he was followed by a young man talking about blow jobs,” Charissage chucked, emphasizing the  open mics are a safe, non judgemental space.
“There’s no sneering. Everyone is open to listening,” she stressed, adding creating a supportive environment is essential.

“And we try to get everybody to applaud a little longer if someone has never been up before,” Petz added.
“Now we have close to 100 people and most weeks a re a full house or close to a full house,” she said,  adding  they have an active presence on Facebook and posters all over the community. Shaw TV has a regular spotlight feature on the poetry open mic.


Shakespeare in the Park begins run of the Scottish play in Galt Gardens this week

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There will be villainy afoot, sword play, deception, superstition and treachery as Shakespeare in the Park celebrates their eighth year by presenting “ the Scottish play” this summer in Galt Gardens.
 “Macbeth” opens Thursday, July 4 and runs until Aug. 9 pretty much every Thursday and Friday in Galt Gardens except July 12 during Street Wheelers weekend when the local Shakespeare troupe hits the road for a performance at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, July 12. They also return to Nanton at the Coutts Centre, July 21, and, new for the troupe,  are in High River at Town Centre, July 27.Macbeth (DJ Gellatly) battles young Siward (Chelsey Fitzsimons) in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Macbeth, running July 4-Aug. 9 in Galt Gardens. photo by Richard Amery
“ That will be a busy week for us,” said producer Kate Connolly, who is delighted director Monique Danielle has set Macbeth will be set in the eleventh century.

“It’s a very traditional version. It is the period Shakespeare drew from to write the play and when the actual Lord Macbeth lived,” Connolly continued, noting it is a departure from forays into the future with last year’s interplanetary space themed Tempest and the recent past of A Comedy of Errors which was set in nineteenth century Alberta.
“It’s going to be very exciting,” she said the cast have undergone extensive fight training to ensure  fight, murder and  duels are as realistic looking as possible while also being safe  as possible .
“We are lucky to have two really talented fight choreographers Garrett Mallory Scott who choreographed all of the fights and he appointed Keith Miller as fight captain, who also plays MacDuff,” she said.

“ It’s set amongst the gloomy castles and haunted heaths of Scotland where Macbeth meets the three witches, It depicts the raw brutality of the age. It’s very exciting. But it’s appropriate for all ages. there’s blood and gore, but no adult language or suggestive scenes,” Connolly advised.

 She noted Shakespeare and  the Park has received generous assistance from a variety of sponsors including Young Insurance,  a Heart of the City Activity grant and Jaded Body Arts as well as  the Allied Arts Council.
The cast features some Shakespeare in the Park veterans as well and several newcomers playing some of Shakespeare’s most iconic roles.

 DJ Gellatly is excited to return to the fold as Macbeth. He has performed in three Shakespeare in the Park productions and directed two others.

He is honoured to play Macbeth.
“A lot of very talented men have played Macbeth, so it really is fun to step into those shoes. It really is an honour,” Gellatly said, noting Macbeth starts out an honourable man, but is seduced by power inspired by the three witches and slowly descends into violence and madness.
“It is very relatable the way Macbeth is seduced by power. Banquo starts out as his companion and friend, but Macbeth really goes to some really dark places inspired by that greed and desire for power,” GellatlDJ Gellatly plays Macbeth in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Macbeth, running July 4-Aug. 9 in Galt Gardens. photo by Richard Ameryy said.

“So it has been really interesting to go there,” he said.
“I hope the audience comes away from the show being entertained,” he said, adding he has been enjoying the sword fighting battles.

Director Monique Danielle returns home to Lethbridge from Toronto, where she has been studying and acting, to direct Macbeth.
 She is excited to set the play in the eleventh century.
“ The board wanted to do a traditional Shakespeare play and Macbeth has always been one of my favourite plays. So I just love that it is set in the eleventh century which is where Shakespeare drew his inspiration from. It’s just such a cool time period,” she said, adding she wanted to bring out the themes of masculinity and gender roles, parenthood and power in the play. She also wanted to explore the theme of  feminine power with Lady Macbeth and the three witches.
“Lady Macbeth is a powerful female character,  she questions Macbeth’s masculinity, but she gives up her femininity for more masculine traits to get power,” she said.
“So I wanted to explore some of those themes,” she said, adding the witches exemplify the female empowerment theme.
“ I was interested in their motivation. So I’ve turned them into Greek fates who are angry about being forgotten as  people were turning to worship God and Christianity, so I wanted to play with that idea of female rage,” Danielle said.

 The three witches are all new to Shakespeare in the Park.
 Megan Fennell, who plays Clotho (witch 2) said she was dared into auditioning by her friend.
“I’ve been trying to do things that scare me this year like petting a snake and singing karaoke for the first time. So my friend dared me to audition,” said Fennell, who is also a dancer, a Taiko drummer, a science fiction author and an artist who is a familiar face at Paint and Sip every month at the Owl.


Shakespeare in the Park dominates slower week due to South Country Fair

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With the two main live music venues being closed for South South Country fair and most of the music loving audience at the Fair, the pickings are pretty slim.Shakespeare in the Park performs all over Southern Alberta this week. Photo by Richard Amery
Shakespeare in the Park has the busiest week of their run of Macbeth.

 There will be a special evening of excerpts plus stories, song and lot of fun at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, Wednesday, July 17.  The witches/fates  Kayla Turnbull, Megan Fennell and Anastasia Sicieac will be performing some Kabuki style scenes, and there will be songs and music performed by Stephanie Savage, Chris Kyle Peterson, Kaylee Joynson, Chelsey Fitzsimmons, Kayla Turnbull and Keith (MacDuff) Miller playing ukulele.
 The show begins at 7:30 p.m.

 There will be regular performances of Macbeth in Galt Gardens, at 7 p.m., July 18 and 19 and the troupe hits the road to play the Coutts Arts Centre in Nanton at noon on Sunday, July  21.
 The Slice closes Wednesday for South Country Fair so there is no open mic on Thursday and the Owl Acoustic Lounge is closed July 19 and 20. The Owl Acoustic Lounge re-opens, July 22 with the Country Casanovas hosting their usual Monday open mic.

 The Slice reopens on Monday, July 23 with a special performance by Tennyson King and local singer songwriter Max Hopkins.
 For comedy, Vancouver comedian  Andrew Packer performs  two shows at Good Times, July 20 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. He is host and creator of the Jokes N Tokes Comedy show in Vancouver and  hosts the Joker Broker Podcast.
 Tickets are $10.

 Casino Lethbridge brings back country band Ryerson Road, July 19 and 20.
 And High River country musician Bruce Peterson plays a  couple of solo shows at the Water Tower Grill on Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20. Where he will be playing hits of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.


Female heavy South Country Fair a family affair this year

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 The South Country Fair  is back to be a family affair. Not only because the people who attend the popular summer event in Fort Macleod at the Fish and GThe Circus Acts Insomniacs return to south Country Fair This year. Photo by Richard Ameryame Park consider themselves to be family, but because Maureen Chambers and her daughter Gillian Moranz book the acts.

 “ Jana McKenzie booked the south stage for as long as she could. I told her when she started that she could do it for as long as she felt comfortable doing it,” said Maureen Chambers who helped found the festival 33 some years ago.
“Jana always stayed with the philosophy ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it,’” Chambers said, noting nothing has changed  this year.

 The fair continues to be an event much of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta’s music community look forward to attending to escape from reality for a few days. Chambers noted they are keeping the capacity at a comfortable 2,000-3,000 attendees.
“And that’s a comfortable number for our space,” Chambers said.

“It really has become a community. It’s like a family reunion. People come and see old friends again,” she said.
“ And we have 400 volunteers. So it’s great to not only have so many people who want to go to the fair, but who want it to be successful and want to help everything run smoothly,” she said.

 The 33rd year includes a lot of B.C. and Alberta Acts performing throughout the weekend, July 19-21 including familiar faces like Rancho Deluxe, Tara Warburton, Andrew Scott, Leeroy Stagger and Rebeltone Sound, Ryland Moranz plus some people who play here a lot like Blue Moon Marquee, Tom Phillips, Peter and the Wolves, Petunia and the Vipers and many more.

 Chambers said  she is looking forward to having Captain Tractor return. The Edmonton based Celtic rock/ folk rock band have been together since 1993 and spent last year touring  for their 25th anniversary.
“ We’ve been trying to get them back for years, but the scheduling has never worked out,” Chambers continued.
“ We booked the acts together,” Chambers said.


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