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    Kicking and Pushing through summer

    [Kick & Push Festival]
    Dale Tracy, an academic assistant for writing courses offered through the Writing Centre at Queen’s, will be performing in Ambrose, presented by the Single Thread Theatre Company, as part of The Kick & Push Festival. (Supplied photo)

    Student Laila Kharouba (Artsci’17) was planning to head home to Toronto for the summer when she heard about a performance opportunity that made her reconsider her plans.

    Ms. Kharouba, a drama major/film and media minor, learned that local theatre company Blue Canoe was staging A Chorus Line, which tells the story of 17 dancers auditioning for spots in a show on Broadway. She jumped at the opportunity to audition, successfully landing the role of Diana Morales.

    “It has always been a dream role of mine,” says Ms. Kharouba. “To get to play it is sort of unreal.”

    Ms. Kharouba is one of a number of actors, playwrights and other theatre-types – many with ties to Queen’s – who have chosen to stay put in Kingston this summer in order to participate in the city’s newest theatre attraction, The Kick & Push Festival. The festival will see six local theatre companies staging productions over the summer season, both at the Grand Theatre and in other venues around the city. The festival is also offering a series of master classes to nurture local talent.

    “I love the spirit of the festival, and I love how excited the people who are running it are,” says John Lazarus, a playwright and professor in the university’s Department of Drama. Mr. Lazarus is one of seven writers (a number of Queen’s alumni among them) who have contributed short plays to a larger piece called AutoShow (presented by Convergence Theatre), which takes place in and around a number of cars parked in downtown’s Market Square.

    “The first of the seven plays is for the entire audience,” he explains, “and then the audience breaks into groups and each group goes to a different car where they hear a different play.” Mr. Lazarus’s contribution, called Totally Nana’s Ride, tells the story of a love triangle involving three young people. “Actually, it could be a love quadrangle because the car is one of the characters,” he adds.

    For Dale Tracy (PhD’13), participating in the festival has allowed her to stretch herself creatively. Ms. Tracy, an academic assistant for writing courses offered through the Writing Centre, is performing in Ambrose (presented by the Single Thread Theatre Company), a site-specific play that takes audience members behind the scenes at the Grand Theatre in order to tell the tale of the disappearance of theatre tycoon Ambrose Small.

    “I’m an investigator struggling with my failure to solve the case,” says Ms. Tracy, explaining that while she has no formal theatre training, she jumped at the opportunity to develop her skills. “For me as a literary scholar, it has been an interesting way to engage with narrative. I also find that my teaching experience has been helpful because teaching can be very improvisational. Participating in Ambrose has been a different way to engage with people – it’s making me think in new ways.”

    Like Ms. Kharouba and Mr. Lazarus, Ms. Tracy is excited to see the new festival animating the city this summer. “I’m so glad we have these cultural opportunities. It’s been a great thing to be part of.”

    A Chorus Line runs from July 22–25 at the Grand Theatre

    AutoShow runs from July 28 – August 12 at Springer Market Square

    Ambrose runs from August 6–15 at the Grand Theatre

    The Kick and Push Festival also includes the productions Shipwrecked!, Tall Ghosts & Bad Weather, and The Tale of a Town.

    For more information visit The Kick and Push Festival’s website