Thompson Rivers University

A new festival emerges from theatre grad’s drive

  Posted on: April 27, 2018

Theatre grad Andrew G. Cooper is so passionate about making a career (and a living) in theatre and the arts that he creates opportunities where they don’t exist.

And wouldn’t you know it, he and some some friends have come up with something called the Hydra Performing Arts Festival. They’re describing the event as interdisciplinary in that you’ll experience a fusion of art forms, whether it’s theatre, music, shadow puppetry, burlesque and magic shows. The lineup consists of 12 shows by Kamloops artists and runs May 10 to 13 and 17 to 19 in TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre. It’s a partnership with Cooper’s company, Chimera Theatre, and with his alma mater, TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre.

Andrew G.Cooper (right), receives the award for Emerging Artist from Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian during the 2018 Mayor’s Gala for the Arts.

“We wanted to create a festival showing off the vibrant and boundary-pushing arts community that Kamloops already has,” said Cooper. “We also wanted to encourage artists from different backgrounds to work together to create something new. With these in mind, we decided on interdisciplinary art and challenging theatrical form.”

The festival is also an ambitious way for Cooper to follow up being named Emerging Artist for 2018 at the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts earlier this year.

To gain some insight into the festival and what Cooper and his team hopes to accomplish through it, we asked him the following:

How did you go about selecting the shows? Was there an audition or criteria you were following?

The festival committee elected a jury to select the shows. We had over 20 submissions for the festival, many more than we were anticipating. The jury judged each submission based on the criteria laid out in the submission posting. Some of what the jury was looking for was local artists, new works, the feasibility of the project, a focus on artistic innovation, as well as artistic and cultural diversity.

There’s an interesting mix of performances—magic shows, shadow puppetry, live music, burlesque and more. What was the thinking behind opening things up to so many different forms? What do you hope to accomplish from having done so?

Ultimately, our hope is to expose audiences to as many new types of performing arts as we can. Really like live music? Come out to see live music, but why don’t you stay for a burlesque show afterwards. Like comedy? Come see a comedy show, but check out that neat looking shadow puppetry show that happens right before it.

We want Kamloops audiences to be brave in their performing arts and to try new things, and this festival is designed just for that. We’re also hoping that the artists who come together for the festival will continue to work with each other and learn and grow from each other so that their art will be influenced by different forms in the future.

What legacy do you hope the festival creates?

Kamloops is already a hotbed for the arts in the Interior of British Columbia and we want to continue that legacy. Because we’re focusing on new work by local artists, we’re hoping that this festival gives those artists a launching pad for their work and that they’ll take Kamloops-made art out into the world from here.

Our dream would be that these works, and the works started in years to come with the festival, go out into the rest of the province and even the rest of the country and that they can proudly say that they got their start in Kamloops with the Hydra Festival.

What do you want audience members to leave with?

We really want audiences to leave thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before.’ We want the Hydra Festival to be totally new. Big smiles, maybe some tears—depending on the show—and their heads full of new ideas and thoughts.