Nelson thespian Lucas Myers is thrilled Stephen Harper is no longer prime minister of Canada, and as host of Oxygen Art Centre’s upcoming two-night fundraiser cabaret, he plans to thumb his nose at the outgoing regime.
“It was like waking up and all our dreams came true,” said Myers, who will host the extravaganza as his flamboyant fashionista character Stephen the Art Star. “I’m an NDP guy, but there’s something about the energy of it, and him — Justin Trudeau — that just seems like the diametric opposite of what we had before. Suddenly the government likes the arts! They’re open, they’re talking to us!”
That wasn’t the case before.
“This is a reclamation. The Conservatives didn’t seem that into culture, they didn’t want to support it that much, so this is us thumbing our nose at them, using Harper’s term —‘barbaric cultural practices.’ You think culture is barbaric? And if not barbaric, at least you don’t like it? Well, we’re here to say it’s necessary.”
Put another way: “We’re going to practice our barbaric cultural practices whenever we want.”
And the double-night cabaret will involve plenty of Kootenay talent, including fresh faces like L.V. Rogers students Morgan Beck, Hayden Wasylyk, Alex D. McMahon, Tyler James and Graham Lingard.
“Hayden and Alex will be doing a very funny satirical piece about a non-profit group that is highly immoral,” Myers said, noting the pair wrote and directed the skit themselves.
“They will be joined by the usual suspects: Bessie Wapp and Hiromoto Ida will be doing an excerpt from Jorinda, we’ll have Julie Johnson-Murray doing a fun song and Lindsay Clague will be presenting something for the first time.”
Myers hinted that Clague will be involved in an exciting casting announcement in the near future.
Filling out the evening will be magician Lisa Menna, as well as Eva McKimm and Laurie Jarvis. Myers’ wife Krista Lynch will perform a satirical piece in which she explores Trudeau mania.
“With participants as varied as Nelson’s Cultural Ambassador Bessie Wapp to Mitchell Scott, editor in chief of Kootenay Mountain Culture, that’s a lot of culture to get barbaric!”
“Oxygen fulfills a niche,” Myers said. “They give opportunities to artists who are emerging, they provide education for people who want to see what the arts are about, and they’re completely accessible. The idea is normal people can be involved and have it be a routine part of their everyday lifestyle.”
Myers said the annual cabaret is always a blast.
“We can push the boundaries and have fun and try stuff we wouldn’t be able to try in a more … Conservative …environment.”
Executive director Miriam Needoba said Oxygen is one of the only rural artist collectives of its type, and it’s coming up on its 10th anniversary in the space.
“Former students are becoming teachers, our children are becoming artists. The idea behind artist-run culture is that the producers are also curating and programming and educating, plus bringing in the new talent.”
Myers said there will be a joyful absurdity to the evening.
“This is a great avenue, and we’re so grateful that these performers are donating so much time and energy,” he said.