Tonight one of the most poorly named* festivals in Calgary kicks off. But don’t let the weird name fool you, The High Performance Rodeo is also one of this city’s coolest. While tourists flock to the city for The Calgary Stampede, Calgarians pack theatres, concert halls and Art Galleries to get a taste of the nearly month long arts festival.

If you are in and/or around the Calgary area, you have both my permission and strong recommendation to check out this diverse festival. While there a tons of shows to choice from, here are some of the ones I’m looking forward to the most.

Freak Show
“While you sit and enjoy a night at the theatre, what lurks in the dark tunnels beneath your chair? What creatures are hidden in the stairwells, or peering down at you from the rooftop?
Step into the shadows with Freak Show, a tour that explores the deepest recesses of the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts. Find yourself swept up in a boiler room sideshow, or encounter bizarre dancers in a freight elevator. Following in the steps of maniacal tour guides, you’ll witness outrageous performances in spaces you never imagined existed.

“For nearly two hundred years, the gothic tales of Edgar Allan Poe have fuelled our nightmares – but the life behind those stories is yet more fantastical. In this bizarrely beautiful production, Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre uses haunting song and poetic storytelling to explore the events that shaped Poe’s career and ignited his lifelong battle with “visions dark and sinister”.

A whimsical and chilling musical fairytale for adults, Nevermore is an irreverent homage to the iconic misfit whose haunting, darkly comic writings resonate in each of our tell-tale hearts. Coming on the heels of productions in London’s West End and New York City, this is Nevermore’s Calgary debut!”

Bash’d: A Gay Rap Opera
“Does “gay rapper” sound like an oxymoron? Brace yourself, breeder – Feminem and T-Bag are bringing the heat to homophobia with queer-loving rhymes. They spin the story of Dylan and Jack, a small-town fag and an urban queen who find big-city matrimonial bliss. It’s all “happily ever after” until a brutal gay-bashing turns true love to tragedy… and they decide to bash back.

Since its Rodeo appearance in 2008, BASH’d has raised the roof Off-Broadway, appeared on FOX News and garnered a stack of awards across North America. Now the BASH’d boys are back, putting the “homo” in homie with their trash-talkin’ tale of star-crossed Romeos.”

For more details on this year’s High Performance Rodeo, please visit their website.

*Seriously, we need to discuss the name of the festival. This city is known world-wide for it’s actual rodeo, anything bearing any resemblance is simply confusing. When I first moved here, I thought it meant people were doing stunts on cows. I’m hoping you can imagine my confusion after seeing the first show dressed in my usual Stampede attire.

Mike Morrison