When Robyn Sanderson, Gabrielle Dufresne and Abbey Thiessen graduated from the University of Regina’s theatre performance program, they knew they would need to create their own opportunities to advance their careers. The actors performed in a variety of local productions, furthered their training through workshops and toured a self-produced play on the national fringe circuit.
With strong roots in devising and creating new works, the trio has a passion for sharing stories and engaging with the community through theatre. Their latest project is the Tic Toc TEN Short Performance Festival, where they are challenging Regina artists to write and present 10-minute performances.
“Our goal with the festival is to help cultivate and encourage a more active theatre scene in Regina,” says Sanderson. “It opens the door for local emerging artists who may not have many opportunities to present their work. This festival model has yet to exist in Regina, so we have taken it upon ourselves to create that opportunity and give it potential to grow.”
Twenty-one artists responded to the call for participants, and 11 were selected to take part. Performances run the gamut of genres, including musicals, films, clown, stand-up comedy and traditional theatre. Some pieces are lighthearted, while others are sad or poignant.
Amanda Schenstead wrote a mini-musical, Images of Hardship, specifically for the festival. The one-woman show experiments with performance art by blending original music (both live and recorded), poetry and movement. “I love the concept of a short performance piece. I like pieces that get a point across, that are in your face, and tell a story. This festival gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself to make an art piece that does that,” she says. “It’s unique. I’ve never seen a festival like this before.”
Tic Toc TEN received an Independent Artists Grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board to cover the costs of the venue, artists’ fees (each participant receives an honorarium), publicity and programs. The festival has no admission cost, to avoid excluding potential audience members. Instead, people are asked to donate what they think the evening was worth. “Our greatest hope is to see brand new works presented on stage with an audience that is in awe of the art they experience,” Dufresne says.
The festival has also helped Sanderson, Dufresne and Thiessen develop new skills that will serve the community. “As artists, we must wear many different hats, and it has allowed us to grow and become more well-rounded creators and individuals,” Thiessen says. “Risk is important to gain experience. By creating and producing this festival, we are proving that we can build our own work in a province full of incredibly talented artists.”
Tic Toc TEN will take place on March 9, 2019 at the Artesian in Regina. For more on the participants, check out the festival’s Facebook page.
Top (left to right): Robyn Sanderson, Abbey Thiessen, Gabrielle Dufresne. Photo by Landon Walliser
Bottom: Amanda Schenstead. Photo by Sharpshooter Photography