WHO: Naomi Campbell
WHY: Director, Rhubarb!
Like previous Rhubarb! fest heads Franco Boni (SummerWorks) and Kelly Thornton (Nightwood), Campbell has had a major hand in producing indie theatre work, with over 35 shows to her credit. She's just finished producing Darren O'Donnell's pppeeeaaaccceee for the Six Stages Festival.
As director of the 25th annual three-week Rhubarb!, Campbell has packed 32 performances -- as well as a quartet of panel discussions on artistic creation and collaboration -- into and around the Buddies venues.
"I wanted bold, political material that pushes the boundaries -- the theatrical environment can sometimes be too conservative."
That doesn't preclude entertainment, though. You also get sexual puppets (Puppet Buffet: We Don't Serve Rat and From The Waist Up And Down), a notorious art forger (Provenance), a non-traditional Calgary drag queen (Come Sit On My Face Of The Earth) and lesbian extraterrestrials looking for mates (Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same).
"I wanted some formal experimentation, gay/lesbian work and fun each week," Campbell offers, "and each section developed its own personality. The first week is male-oriented, the second female-oriented and the third is wilder, edgier, rougher."
Because it's the festival's 25th year, she wanted to nod toward Rhubarb!'s history without being nostalgic. Campbell's method is to involve established writers whose early work was fostered by Rhubarb! -- Robin Fulford, Alec Butler (author of Black Friday), Sonja Mills, O'Donnell -- as well as a slew of new talents from across North America. Several artists from the Czech Republic are also part of the mix.
Campbell's added a new element she's calling diversionary works. Short pieces of guerrilla theatre and installation, they take place in stairwells, on line and around the Buddies building.
"It'll make it more compelling to be downstairs, outdoors and to hang around the theatre."