Alberta Kitchen Party offers an inside look at the challenges and triumphs of being a performing artist in Alberta

A couple of short years back, kitchen parties could be found in homes across the country. As friends gather, inevitably, they end up in the kitchen – casual and joyous gatherings, surrounded by food, drink, and music. Alberta Theatre Projects’ new show, Alberta Kitchen Party (produced in association with Forte Musical Theatre Guild), calls upon these familiar and longed-for days and celebrates those feelings of community, belonging, and searching for a place to call home.

A spirited musical celebration, Alberta Kitchen Party is woven together with a candid, personal look at the unique journey each artist has taken to a life on the stage. A group of friends share stories of their experiences growing up in Calgary, finding their ways as humans and artists, and celebrating their emotional connections to the city and the province. It’s an intimate evening with these multi-talented performers as they raise their voices, sharing their hopes, fears, struggles, and victories.

Originally planned for 2021, Alberta Kitchen Party was delayed due to the global pandemic. But the team never stopped working, continuing to develop the project remotely via Zoom, and once it was safe to do so, via in-person workshops in Alberta Theatre Projects’ rehearsal hall. Alberta Kitchen Party explores how we connect through our experiences, hopes and aspirations; how we face and overcome challenges, and is a joyous celebration of art, music and story.

“This is a collection of very personal stories and curated original and cover songs, with the narrative collaboratively written by the creative team,” says director Mieko Ouchi. “The cast is playing themselves, and have been incredibly generous in sharing their experiences becoming theatre and musical artists, and their deep roots and connections to this city and province. It’s been a beautiful and organic process to work together to create this true ensemble piece. The result is a joyful night that we hope will bring audiences back into the world of theatre, that uses art as the foundation to share, reconnect and heal with genuine warmth and joy.”

A story interwoven with music, Alberta Kitchen Party contains a blend of original songs written just for the show, and some fan-favourite tunes that will be familiar to everyone in the audience. Led onstage by Musical Director Joe Slabe, the performers play their own instruments, including a selection of guitars, trumpet, drums and the harmonica. Each performer had the opportunity to choose a song dear to them or write a piece they felt encapsulated their journey. Having found their way to – or found their way back to Alberta, each artist has a different story that led them here. But each face similar questions when it comes to building their artistic futures. Is this where I want to stay? Is this home? What does home feel like? How do you know you’re in the right place? The bravery of letting go and allowing oneself to be swept up in the current of possibility may have led an artist here – but how does one know when it’s time to take root?

“It’s an exploration about home, told through the artist’s lens – what it means to have roots, and when to take flight,” says Rohit Chokhani, Artistic and Executive Director of Alberta Theatre Projects. “This theme has become even more relevant during the current times. Alberta is home to so many talented local artists. There is such a strong desire in our community to hear stories of local artists and get to know them. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to give some of these talented artists the opportunity to tell their stories about rediscovering their love for their art form, and discovering the strength and support of community, as individuals and as friends. Together, they celebrate where they’ve come from, honour and acknowledge the people who have left us, and the shifts and changes they’ve encountered in this ever-changing world.”

The show is presented in a casual environment with cabaret table seating on the main floor to invite audiences into this created world. The stage area is built and designed to create an intimate world without barriers between audience and performers, helping audience members to feel like they’re a part of the show, while still feeling right at home. Alberta Kitchen Party promises to be a close look into the lives of artists – where they’ve been, and where they’re going, and an exploration of the meaning of home.

Get in on the party! Alberta Kitchen Party runs from March 2 – March 19 at Alberta Theatre Projects in the Martha Cohen Theatre. The show is produced in association with Forte Musical Theatre Guild. Visit us HERE for tickets!

Photo (clockwise from top left): Kodie Rollan, Alixandra Cowman, Daniel Fong, Jeremy Carver-James & Anna Dalgleish. Photos by Erin Wallace.