Halifax feels the pull of Magnetic North theatre festival

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - The Magnetic North Theatre Festival is coming to Halifax for the first time ever, bringing “some of the best theatre in Canada” to town.

A couple spins around the dance floor during last year's Dance Marathon, a Magnetic North festival event based on Depression-era dance contests where the last duo moving on the floor wins. Dance Marathon will be at the Olympic Community Hall in Halifax from June 25-28, 7-9 p.m.

Canada’s only national theatre festival, based in Ottawa, travels to a different city every two years and artistic director Brenda Leadlay said her team has had a great experience working with partner Eastern Front Theatre for the June 19 to 29 event.

“It is some of the best theatre in Canada, it is … something for everybody,” Leadlay said Wednesday.

“People wanting to … see theatre that can somehow affect them on a deeper level and hopefully change lives in the big picture.”

There will be 13 shows across Halifax and Dartmouth, the most ever, thanks to Eastern Front shows like the Mermaid Theatre’s new Stella, Queen of the Snow, or Pop- Up Love Party.

For first-time theatre fans, Leadlay recommended the Broken Sex Doll – if they are “up for naughtiness.”

“It’s very, very funny,” Leadlay said about the play focused on what it will be like when humans use robots for sex.

Leadlay said Iceland is another highlight, about the economic meltdown of 2008. A good story, mystery, and “fine acting” made it one of Leadlay’s favourites.

For those who don’t like sitting in a dark theatre, Leadlay said to check out The National Elevator Project, or The Tale of a Town Nova Scotia where a team travelled around the province collecting stories to present with music.

Dance Marathon is a fun event where anyone can register and compete in an old-school contest where the last person moving on the floor wins, Leadlay said.

Stephen O’Connell of bluemouth inc., the company presenting Dance Marathon, said local dancers in the audience will break out into choreography throughout the night, and prizes are given away for best-dressed couple.

“You’re not being put on stage … it’s more just the event and things reveal themselves around you,” O’Connell said.

“Suddenly the YMCA song comes on and you have 200 people euphorically doing the Village People dance, then people don’t want to sit down.”

For a complete lineup of events and more information, go to magneticnorthfestival.ca

Magnetic North show listings:Broken Sex Doll: June 20-24.Two in the Coop: June 20, 22When it Rains: June 22-24Who Killed Spalding Gray? June 24-25, 27-28Huff: June 23, 25-28LEAR: June 21-24wag: June 19-22Stella, Queen of the Snow: June 21-22Pop-Up Love Party: June 23-25Iceland: June 24-25Tale of a Town N.S.: June 24-28The National Elevator Project: June 22-25Dance Marathon: June 25-28.A sampling of free Magnetic Encounters:Free Oval roller skating party: June 21Rich Aucoin keynote speech: June 22Companies pitch shows to international agents: June 24Poker night: June 26

Organizations: Love Party, Magnetic North theatre, Eastern Front Theatre National Elevator Mermaid Theatre Bluemouth YMCA

Geographic location: Halifax, Canada, Ottawa Dartmouth Iceland Town Nova Scotia

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