The Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Festival sounds very Whistler, in the best way possible.
It's grassroots, filled with local talent and an eclectic array of music, theatre and visual art, all taking place with a stunning backdrop of Alta Lake.
"It's very much coming out of the community of artists that are here and creating," says Stephen Vogler, the festival's artistic director. "It's produced by the artists. It's a sharing of what's being created here in the valley with some visitors as well."
Vogler thought for years about putting on a local summer festival before launching into action in 2012 with a one-day event. "It was really popular and people had a great time," he says. "We had so much (going on) we could barely fit it into one day, so we expanded to two."
This year, the event kicks off on Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. with a performance by a group of talented eight to 11 year olds who have been taking part in musical and theatre workshops at The Point Artist-Run Studio throughout the summer. "They're not using some Disney script," Vogler says. "They write songs with Aude Ray leading them and they created the costumes and the set and everything."
It will be followed by a show by local singer-songwriter Rachel Thom ahead of a dinner at 7 p.m. Later, Vancouver theatre puppet artists, Mind of a Snail, will put on their interactive and visually stunning show using cutout images and a projector.
Finally, roots-reggae band and recent award winners Kalan Wi will cap off the first evening.
Saturday afternoon will be filled with the regular Saturday and The Point offerings, but it will also include music by Michael Faiella, face painting and a lantern-making workshop for those who want to participate in the lantern boat procession that will close off the festival later that night.
Gravelly-voiced Vancouver music veteran Bocephus King is also on the roster for pre- and post-dinner sets, followed by local improv team Script-Tease.
Finally, Vogler's original play The Auditor (or Sex, Drugs and Tax Returns) will be performed by local actors on a floating dock on Alta Lake. Adapted from a short story he wrote nearly a decade ago, the piece earned him a spot in the B.C. Festival of the Arts.
It's about an auditor from Ottawa who's sent to audit a "free wheelin' Gulf Islands writer."
"Their two worlds are quite disparate and they clash," Vogler says. "The writer has an odd way of keeping his books and income records. He also has a grown daughter who lives with him in his farmhouse on the Gulf Islands and it ensues from there."
The floating stage was a highlight of the festival last year, but part of the stress of holding an outdoor event is the potential for inclement weather. "It's going to happen one way or another," he says. "We have the option of a tent or moving it inside the lodge. We still do the lantern boat procession come hell or high water."
Vogler is co-directing the production with Angie Nolan while locals like Michel Beaudry, RMOW Coun. Jack Crompton and Steve Andrews are acting.
Inspired by festivals that take place in parks around the world, Vogler says part of the event's purpose it to gather the community. "What I like about a good festival is it really pulls people together," he says. "It really can have an impact and be a nice catalyst to bring people in the community together and appreciate what people have to offer creatively."
Tourists will certainly enjoy the local offerings, but the lineup of events is mostly aimed at a hometown crowd, he adds. "Whistler puts on a lot of big shows and festivals," he says. "I wanted this to be more of a dyed-in-the-wool community festival. Not to say visitors wouldn't be attracted to it. We did get people last year from the city and I think this year that's growing."
A two-day pass for the festival is $30 while a single evening is $20 with an additional $10 for dinner either night, and a cash bar. Tickets are available now at Armchair Books or Hempire. Events take place at The Point (5678 Alta Lake Rd.) For more visit www.thepointartists.com.
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