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Goblins and Greek tragedy at the High Performance Rodeo

By Nimra Amir, February 1 2024— 

The past few weeks of January have been an adventure for all Calgarians. Yet for festival goers of High Performance Rodeo, the snow that comes with the new year does not stop the joys that come with live art. Whether it be an acclaimed international show or an experimental local work, High Performance Rodeo has been proud to showcase talent that is unique to their stages. 

The Gauntlet spoke with producer Oliver Armstrong about High Performance Rodeo and their upcoming shows, Goblin: Oedipus and Goblin: Cabaret.

The initial launch of High Performance Rodeo, unlike any other year of the festival, was hosted by Michael Green inside of an darkened freight elevator and then the One Yellow Rabbit office where artists tried out new writings, played compositions on toy pianos, climbed out windows and invited the audience to party on the rooftops. While the venues for the shows have since been upgraded, High Performance Rodeo has kept its novel nature of the unexpected. 

Because we have this reputation and this mandate for wild theatre, it allows us this chance to do anything we want and that variety for the types of shows and the types of artists we have is fun to have in our wheelhouse,” said Armstrong. 

The only thing that all shows have in common is that the audience will see them live in downtown Calgary where most of the venues are located. For festival goers this year there will be about 25 live shows that they can choose from to attend.

“There is nothing quite like the live experience,” said Armstrong. “Whether it is music or dance or even lecture series, coming together and doing it in person is the experience that we want people to remember.” 

The live art experience to top off all live art experiences is the Goblin: Oedipus show and the subsequent Goblin: Cabaret show. From the previously sold-out show Goblin: Macbeth, the characters that have been created, the goblins, have just learned what theatre is — and the goblins have decided they are going to do the Greek tragedy, Oedipus, and also, the goblins have decided they are going to host a cabaret. However, the goblins do not do it alone. In fact, for Goblin: Oedipus, audience members will be recruited at the beginning of the show to become the Greek chorus — an important format of the original Greek tragedies. 

Goblin: Oedipus could not exist on the big screen or the small screen. It is an inherently a live experience,” said Armstrong. 

The goblins will then close off the festival with Goblin: Cabaret where they will share the stage with other guest artists, and even live reptiles, in a variety show format.

Of course, for the average person, this may seem intimidating. It is not every day that you see goblins but rest assured that anyone attending will be made welcome. 

“We are really good hosts, we have been doing it for a long time. So, if folks are not sure what it means to sit in a soft seat in a theatre for 90 minutes and witness theatre, we want to be the first thing they try because it is going to be fun,” said Armstrong. “There are no expectations here, this is a come-as-you-are festival and all are welcome.”

Goblin: Oedipus and Goblin: Cabaret runs until Feb. 3. To buy tickets, you can visit the High Performance Rodeo website

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