8 High Performance Rodeo Show You Should See This Year

Listen to stories, watch trapeze, catch a concert or cabaret and more of our top picks for Calgary’s 2018 international arts festival.

The 32nd High Performance Rodeo runs from January 3 to 28. Each year, One Yellow Rabbit delivers an impressive list of international and local contemporary art, theatre and music and dance performances and experiences happening daily. The festival has something for everyone and shows are both free and ticketed. Some of the best ticketed shows are just $15 on Wednesdays and there’s also student pricing

This year’s lineup includes international and national premieres and some unique immersive experiences. While it’s nice to think we could go to everything, that’s most unlikely. So we’ve rounded up a few that caught our eye this year, whether you crave something a bit more low key or something wacky and outlandish. 


Hot Brown Honey


photograph by dylan evans


Cost: Starting at $30 ($15 on Wednesday)

Who will like it: People who want a wild night at the theatre.

What is it: A wacky, in-your-face, provocative, burlesque-meets-circus-meets-comedy-show put on by six indigenous Australian women. Expect singing, dancing, poetry, strip tease, trapeze and loud costumes. 

When: January 3 to 6


Reassembled, Slightly Askew 


photograph by richard lavery


Cost: Starting at $25 ($15 on Wednesdays)

Who will like it: People who are seeking an intimate and unique theatre experience. 

What is it: An immersive audio experience created by Belfast-born playwright and producer Shannon Yee. Eight guests at a time lay down in beds in a room at the St. Louis Hotel, which is designed to look like a hospital room. They’re are blindfolded and given headphones then listen to a recording by Susan who tells the true story of her struggle through recovery from a brain injury. 

When: January 5 to 13


10-Minute Play Festival 

Cost: Starting at $35

Who will like it: People who want to support local artists. 

What is it: This is arguably HPR’s most popular event so get tickets ASAP. Six Calgary theatre companies are given a prop, one line of text and 24 hours to create a 10-minute play based on those items. This event, produced and hosted by Downstage Theatre, has been running since 2000. 

When: January 6


Moon, Moon, No Moon 


image courtesy of high performance rodeo


Cost: Starting at $30 or $15 on Wednesday 

Who will like it: People who love cabaret. 

What is it: New this year from One Yellow Rabbit, it’s a song cycle dedicated to the moon. Cabaret-style songs celebrate our relationship with the moon, from agricultural purposes to its symbolism during the Cold War. 

When: January 9 to 27 


ProArts @ Noon Series

Cost: Free

Who will like it: People who want a musical lunch hour.

What is it: Bring your lunch and watch local musicians perform at the Cathedal Church of the Redeemer downtown on 1 Street S.E. The lineup of artists includes Frank Rackow and The Black Sea (Eastern European music), John Rutherford (blues) and Allison Lynch (jazz). 

When: January 10, 17 and 24




photography by dahlia katz


Cost: Free

Who will like it: People who love stories. 

What is it: Guests will walk through a series of around 15 to 20 illuminated tents that run from the Calgary Municipal Building through the Plus-15s and into Arts Commons. In each, there will be a local person who will tell a true story about an event in their life where they were affected by change. This installation was originally created for Canada 150 in Ottawa. 

When: January 17 to 19


True Crime 


photograph courtesy of high performance rodeo


Cost: $35 

Who will like it: People who love crime shows. 

What is it: An intense one-man play created and performed by Toronto actor Torquil Campbell. it’s an examination of the true story of a conman named Clark Rockefeller who’s currently serving a near-life sentence in California. It originally appeared at the 2016 HPR as a work-in-development entitled The Rockefeller Project. 

When: January 23 to 27


Red Phone Project 


photograph courtesy of high performance rodeo


Cost: Free

Who will like it: People who want to drink and experience theatre. 

What is it: An audience participation exercise at the Laycroft Lounge, the official High Performance Rodeo bar at Arts Commons. Two red phone booths are set up across the lobby from each other. Inside, there’s a teleprompter with a short script written by a Calgary or Vancouver playwright. The two people read it into the phone and perform a 10-minute play with each other. Participate with a friend or stranger. 

When: January 23 to 27


For the full schedule and tickets to High Performance Rodeo, visit hprodeo.ca

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