'Art is supposed to influence': Live theatre returns to Waterloo Region with IMPACT 21 Festival

Waterloo Region’s live theatre festival is back.

From Sept. 28 to Oct. 9, the International Multicultural Platform for Alternative Contemporary (IMPACT) Theatre will be hosting 20 productions that address social justice issues through performances including dance and spoken word.

“If art doesn’t deal with the urgent and serious issues of human life, it has no meaning,” said Nada Humsi, a seven-time IMPACT festival performer from Kitchener.

This year, Humsi will be taking on a role in the play, “Black Flags” as a mother who loses her family and home to a suicide bombing.

“This group of actors, we’ve been improvising continuously for three weeks and this is where we are now,” said Humsi.

She adds this play is part of a trilogy that dives into the issue of extremism, all while centring women and their endurance through injustice.

“Art is supposed to influence the minds, the hearts, the knowledge and life,” said Humsi.

You’re Invited to #IMPACT21Festival 's Opening Ceremonies! Join us TONIGHT as we kick off our seventh biennial theatre festival! ��

Directed by the incredible folks @cosmicfishing this will be a night to remember!

Livestream at 7pm on https://t.co/9bxAP4wNgR ���� pic.twitter.com/WQoQKwyfUF

— MT Space (@theMTspace) September 28, 2021

IMPACT’s artistic director, Pam Patel, said there’s an urgency to showcase culturally diverse performances that discuss systemic issues like Black Lives Matter.

“If you really want to talk about Land Back, if you really want to talk about the occupation of Palestine … we have all of that by artists with lived experiences,” said Patel.

Hundreds of local, national and international performers will be taking part in the festival.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s live performances have been moved outdoors to four venues in downtown Kitchener, while international acts will be streamed outside of Waterloo city hall.

All venues have a capacity limit of 50 people to allow for physical distancing.

Most of the performances can also be viewed online, Sarah Nairne’s one-woman show, “Stretch Marks” which explores themes of young Black motherhood.

“The story has a lot of reliability for women, black women to make their way as people in their mid 20s,” said the Waterloo-resident.

Nairne hopes her performance shares perspectives in Waterloo Region.

A full schedule of IMPACT 21 performances is available here.