Theatre-goers take to the Galloping Goose

Audience members sent on their bikes to discover performances on trail

Christina Patterson and David Radford of Launch Pad Productions are ready to perform on the Galloping Goose trail.

When your stage is alongside the Galloping Goose trail, anything can happen.

Last year, one of Theatre SKAM’s mini-performances got held up when a confused driver made a turn onto the multi-use trail.

It’s the kind of unpredictable event actors in the theatre event dubbed Bike Ride are prepped to deal with, says artistic producer Matthew Payne.

Spectators ride in groups of 12 from Cecelia Ravine Park, following a map to 12 designated performance spaces along a three-kilometre stretch of the trail network.

“From the audience’s perspective, it’s like a potluck and a treasure hunt feel,” says Payne. “They’re not going out with a guide, they’re going out on their own.”

Among the 12 different 10-minute skits being performed are a gothic musical parody of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a post-apocalyptic romantic picnic and a spoken-word improvisation skit.

The outdoor environment also loosens up the relationship between audience and performers, Payne says. Instead of sitting in the dark, facing forward with an arm rest separating each person, the audience is more free to interact with each other or participate in the performance.

Now in its third year, Bike Ride is growing: performances have increased from last year’s nine, tickets can be purchased online, the city provided a grant for the first time and participating theatre groups were selected by jury.

The submission process promotes “a rigor and a discipline in the work, which is something we’re interested in seeing increase in Victoria’s arts scene,” Payne says.

“It raises the bar for everybody.”

A $15 ticket lets viewers see all the shows they want in one day, while $25 gets you a two-day pass.

Home base, at Cecelia Ravine Park beside the Burnside-Gorge Community Centre, provides tickets, a concession, a bike decorating station, entertainment and live music at the end of the night.

Weather permitting, tours depart up to every 20 minutes from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on July 9, 10, 16 and 17.

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