The 4th Annual Living Things Festival Returns January 15

“It’s a festival for people who are curious about things that they may not know"

One of our favourite festivals of the year returns to Kelowna January 15th, just in time to save us from those winter blues. Now in its fourth year, Living Things, which runs until February 2nd, will include performances from South Korea, the Netherlands, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and the Okanagan Valley, with shows featuring talking rice cookers, French baguettes that battle each other, and a interactive drag bingo that The Georgia Straight calls a “one-of-a-kind stage phenomenon.”

“The festival is focused on theatrical devices, the kinds of things we do on stage which are kind of (magical), I call it, when something comes alive,” UBCO associate prof and festival founder, Neil Cadger says. “Also, the idea of living things to me is philosophically interesting of what is animated and what is not… the festival is also about the place we live in and things we surround ourselves with.”

For the first time, Living Things is partnering with the Kelowna Art Gallery to bring internationally-acclaimed interactive visual art to their downtown space during the festival. Living Things also includes live public installations in the FINA Gallery in the Creative and Critical Studies building on the UBCO campus, and exhibitions of both student and faculty artwork at the Alternator Gallery. The festival is also offering passes to see this year’s 12 shows as an alternative to purchasing individual show tickets. Passes went on sale December 13th and are $130 or $95 for students – by purchasing them you’ll save approximately 50% off the ticket prices.

The Festival Lineup

Experiment in F# Minor

January 11 – March 1, Kelowna Art Gallery

On a large table sits a collection of bare speakers of all shapes and sizes. Light sensors are inlaid into the edge of the table and as the viewers move around the room, their shadows cause the various sound and instrumental tracks to fade up and overlap, mingle and fade down. Numerous viewers in the room create a cacophony of musical compositions that vary according to where the audience walks or how many people are in the room. When the space is empty, the table fades to silence. From internationally renowned artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures-Miller.


January 15 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, FINA Gallery UBC Okanagan | January 16 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Kelowna Art Gallery | Admission by donation

Biblioteka is a duet for one performer and one musician, set within a spontaneously constructed library of 100+ books. Created and performed by Ben Gorodetsky, Biblioteka intersects ritual movement, autobiographical storytelling, live reading, experimental theatre, folk music and improvisation. Using a combination of personal literary treasures that have travelled with Gorodetsky thousands of kilometers and criss-crossed international borders, and discarded garbage books from the curbs around Flatbush, Brooklyn, Biblioteka peels back the layers of intellectual, cultural, and emotional residue and looks at what remains. Performed in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and storyteller Larissa Poho.

The Multimodal Landscape

January 17 11:00 am – February 24 5:00 pm, The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art | Admission by donation

Emerald Holt’s The Multimodal Landscape combines the sounds and colours of nature for a visual music interactive installation about the Okanagan Valley. An opening reception with refreshments will be held on Friday, January 24 from 6 – 8pm, and all guests are welcome. The exhibit will be on view in the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art from January 17 to February 1, 2020.

Me Love Bingo

January 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm and January 18 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Centre Culturel Francophone de l’Okanagan | Purchase tickets 

Part variety hour, part game night, part Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Me Love BINGO! takes the ol’ timey game of luck and amps it up to 11 with a different theme each time. Join your costume-clad host, Kyle Loven, and guest assistants from your community for a campy night of games, wacky prizes, sweet tunes and lots of surprises.

Objects in Motion

January 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:10 pm and January 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:10 pm, Mary Irwin Theatre | Purchase Tickets 

An evening of short experimental animated films.

Jimmy Jones

January 21 7:00 pm – January 22 7:50 pm, Black Box Theatre | Purchase tickets (English and French Shows)

In a mythical America, Jimmy Jones reveals the stories and disappointments of his father in the middle of cornfields and legends. “The greatest emotions sometimes arise from the most minimalist representations in terms of technical and human means. Personally, I was really impressed by the talent of Francis Monty and Alexandre Leroux, from the Théâtre de la Pire Espèce, a theatre company from Quebec, who manage with almost nothing (toy cars, cotton, Russian dolls or a small wooden house, etc.) to take the audience on a journey through it.” – Cristina Marino, L’arbre aux contes, blog Le Monde

My Dear Lewis

January 22 – 23 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Black Box Theatre | Purchase tickets

Lewis is at the end of his journey met with the task of looking back over a life lived. What unfolds is a pilgrimage made by his mind and body into the dark and dusty corners of memory. Puppetry, objects, video, and music unexpectedly combine in this one-person show. This Jim Henson Foundation-supported piece earned the Innovation in Puppetry Award at the 2013 National Puppet Festival and has been seen in Amsterdam, Vancouver, New York, and other US cities.

A Falling Stone: reflections on the lives of objects

January 23 6:00 pm, Kelowna Art Gallery | Admission is free

Looking at visual art as well as performance, this talk will explore how art reveals our complex relationships with the non-human world. We may think we know what we want but what does everything else want? Join Associate Professor and Living Things festival founder, Neil Cadger, at this free public talk at the Kelowna Art Gallery on Thursday, January 23rd.

Ubu On The Table

January 23- 24 7:00 pm – 8:15 pm, Black Box Theatre | Purchase tickets (English and French Shows)

Two armies of French baguettes face each other in a stand-off as tomato bombs explode, an egg beater hovers over fleeing troops and molasses-blood splatters on fork-soldiers as they charge Père Ubu. Anything goes as Poland’s fate is sealed on a tabletop! Multiple film references spice things up as two performers hammer-out a small-scale fresco of grandiose buffoonery.

Ubu is undeniably comfortable surrounded by kitchen utensils that double as gorging tools and weapons to annihilate the “sagouins”. The banality of the objects dramatically underscores the grotesque nature of the characters: Captain Bordure, embodied by a standard hammer, is forever stuck in his rigid stance, forced to repeat the same ridiculous expressions over and over. The Object’s expressive limits force the creators to focus on the dramatic action rather than on the psychological development of the characters. The actor-puppeteers (in full view) appeal to the audience’s intelligence and imagination by conveying a second degree to the storyline.

Find Your Own Inner Elder

January 24 – 25 8:30 pm – 9:15 pm, Mary Irwin Theatre | Purchase tickets

This imaginative show talks about the importance of reconnecting with our elders and how impactful the stories are that our grandparents carry. Find Your Own Inner Elder talks about the passing of information between the generations and the strength of language. This touching show portrays the connection between four generations in one family. This eventually leads to the creation of an Inner Elder… named Kookum Martha! That is when the laughter begins.

Object Theatre Workshop

January 25 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Centre Culturel Francophone de l’Okanagan | Purchase tickets

Students will discover the object’s expressive possibilities and will practise different manipulation techniques. They will then be asked to create short pieces using objects as characters or symbols, under the watchful eye of their instructors.

Students will perform their new work at the 2020 Puppet Slam later that night, at 10 pm on January 25th.

In Quebec and abroad, the Théâtre de la Pire Espèce regularly offers intensive courses in theater of objects, oriented to the manipulation, staging or writing specific to this particular theatrical genre. Our team of trainers gives workshops at local and international festivals, as well as in several university programs (UQAM, National Theatre School of Canada).

Puppet Slam

January 25 10:00 pm – 11:30 pm, Black Box Theatre | Purchase tickets

Underground puppet slams are popping up everywhere. They feature contemporary short-form puppet and object theatre for adult audiences, often late at night in small venues, nightclubs, and art spaces.

Puppet Slams exist at the nexus of vaudeville, burlesque, and performance art through the intersection of experimental theatre, art, music, and dance as a viable alternative to the culturally homogenous digital mass media. If you have a secret life as a puppeteer and want to come out or an attention-worthy relationship with objects, this is your chance.

Sounds Like Things

January 29 8:00 pm, Black Box Theatre | Purchase tickets

Sounds Like Things is an experimental concert event that breaks musical boundaries, opens minds, and challenges listeners to hear in new ways. True to its name, experimental music involves investigating tones, examining new harmonies, and testing unfamiliar rhythms, all while fearlessly navigating the line between successful artistic innovation and potential failure. This daringly creative event will bring together local jazz, classical, and avant-garde musicians and performers to create new and unexpected sounds in an intimate setting. Join organizers Skin and Bones with musicians Andrew Stauffer, Darren Williams, Nick Denton-Protsack plus others, as they explore new and exciting sonic possibilities.


January 30 – 31 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Mary Irwin Theatre | Purchase tickets

In bittersweet and humorous dialogues, Jaha and his clever rice cookers take you on a journey through the last 20 years of Korean history, combining personal experience with political events and reflections on happiness, economic crises and death.

One day when his electric rice cooker informed him that his meal was ready, Jaha Koo experienced a deep sense of isolation. ‘Golibmuwon’ (고립무원) is an untranslatable Korean word expressing the feeling of helpless isolation that characterizes the lives of many young people in Korea today.

Twenty years ago there was a major economic crisis in South-Korea, comparable to the financial crash in the United States and Southern Europe in 2008. This crisis had a huge impact on the young generation to which South Korean artist Jaha Koo belongs. He witnessed many endemic problems including youth unemployment and socio-economic inequality. Rising suicide rates, isolation, acute social withdrawal and a fixation on personal appearance are but a few of the symptoms.

Figures in Motion

February 1 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm and February 2 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Mary Irwin Theatre | Purchase tickets 

A new work by choreographer and performer Vanessa Goodman that explores heritage, culture and resilience.

A Fine Kind of Madness // Heather Ware – A body in conflict searches for balance, for resolution. A paralytic state of fear is made bearable by ones own physical being. What is needed within a person to move forward when every instinct is screaming to stop. What if you can’t go back, can’t downclimb. Can we give ourselves over to the beauty of falling apart?

In Fiction // Vanessa Goodman – Blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined, “In Fiction” is based on the fact and fiction surrounding caul births, the extremely rare phenomenon where a baby is born cloaked in the amniotic sack.