FOLDA is much more than livestreaming of shows happening across the globe. The innovative concepts embraced by the festival creators is sure to intrigue live theatre enthusiasts and techies alike.
This year’s festival is an entirely online event that runs from Wednesday, Jun. 9 to Sunday, Jun. 13, 2021. It provides support for live theatre artists in a digital age with webinars, workshops, and tools for artists to create digital live performances.
Incorporating digital arts to a live performance almost always adds interactive aspects to a production. FOLDA includes productions in various stages of development in a process similar to app design.
FOLDA premiered in 2018 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Even before the pandemic forced the arts to shift to digital platforms, FOLDA creators recognized the demand to adapt the live theatre experience to include digital elements.
“The aim is to be an exciting incubator for an emerging art from where audience feedback plays a key role throughout the creative process,” the organization states on its website.
Keeping pace with the digital revolution, the festival has rapidly evolved over the past four years. The festival includes live performances with options to live stream and expanded partnerships in 2019 brought international participation.
Queen’s University and The Isabel Bader Center is key to the success of the festival because of the extraordinary performance space and the many other areas of support they provide, according to event organizers.
As with other art forms, the pandemic forced FOLDA to adapt to new circumstances in 2020, leading to the use of previous years’ work to transition into a totally online experience. Increased demand for livestreaming and new partnerships further expanded its growth to tens of thousands in virtual attendance in 2020.
According to festival co-creator Michael Wheeler, this year is particularly exciting because the challenges that came with that transition have already been addressed, allowing presenters to grow the concepts further for this year’s event.
To combat the lack of human connection, the festival used social media to encourage the sense of community. This year’s event expands on this concept by introducing a new platform, Gather. It combines digital and interpersonal connection.
“We are excited to return to in person events next year,” Wheeler said. “We hope to include more Kingston based artists in programming.” They are also working to utilize the Grad Club as a home base for the more social aspects of the festival moving forward, Wheeler disclosed.