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Halloween fun with Here Be Monsters Festival High Wire

Here Be Monster Festival Collective Members (L to R): Ryan Gladstone, Jeff Gladstone, Jenny Magenta, Heather Lindsay

If you're a hipster looking for an event that celebrates theatre and visual art, allows you to express yourself creatively, imbibe delightful beverages, frug to groovy tunes, play Halloween games, engages you for four solid nights, and you could do it all for a ridiculously low price, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Heather Lindsay, Jeff Gladstone, Ryan Gladstone and art curator Jenny Magenta, co-producers of Here Be Monsters Festival 2010 running Thursday October 28 to Sunday October 31 at Performance Works at Granville Island, thinks so.

“This is our fifth anniversary”, enthused Lindsay, also artistic director of Theatre Under the Gun, a company that puts the term “limited rehearsal period” into a whole new genre. 

With over 80 participants and a variety of programming, each night is different. Every night  starts at 7:15 with the doors opening for art viewing, affordable drinks at the Monster Bar, the interactive wall where a burning question  leads participants to Jerry Springer-like confessions, and the arts and crafts table, an activity you know you’ve missed since you graduated from kindergarten.

To bring the festival in with a bang, the Smorgasbord Cabaret on Thursday night features the entire Here Be Monsters Collective with a twisted variety  show of hiphop burlesque, a drumming vaudeville duo, the best worst movie monologues and naked classic theatre.

Then, Somnambulist Productions' remake of the German Expressionist first-ever horror silent movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) by  Roger Wiene sees the recent University of Victoria Theatre grads retelling the tale with hand held lights and portable scrims.

To see theatre without a net created collectively by the hottest indie theatre artists in Vancouver, experience Theatre Under the Gun both Friday and Saturday nights. Ten companies in all, five different ones each night, are given an inspiration package and 48 hours to create a piece of performance.

Lindsay, a Simon Fraser theatre graduate, “loves original creation ensemble work.”

She elaborated, “We wanted to create a platform for how your company works so there are no definitions. One company may work physically as a collective and another might send someone off to write something. An improvisation company may open the inspiration box that night. You don’t have time to say no.”

Many of these pieces are initiations for longer more developed work but the level of risk and pedal to the metal passion makes for high wire fun.

On the Sunday night, Edmonton playwright Marty Chan’s chilling The Bone House, plays.  Chris Dafoe of the Globe and Mail recently wrote: “A horror show that rivals, maybe surpasses, The Blair Witch Project for skin crawling creepiness and terror. “ DEPENDS undergarments not included.

Every night ends with costumed dance party hoopla provided by in-house DJ’s Mexican Wrestler and Beaver. But don’t party till dawn  because you have to get up and do it all again the next night.

“This is our passion, “explained Lindsay. “ We want you to come every night. It’s all Vancouver artists doing their current, current work. The Festival Pass ($30) is insanely cheap to keep costs as low as possible so people can experience this amazing artistic environment.”  People in costume are only $12 per night or Halloween jam tarts not in costume are $15.

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