One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts (2020)

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The 2020 High Performance Rodeo Is On Now!

For the last 34 years Calgarians have bundled up to brave the chilly January weather, all for their love of the quirky, intensely emotional, and brilliantly sharp theatre festival that is One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo. For 19 days every January the High Performance Rodeo, or HPR as it is affectionately known to many, brings dozens of world class shows and events to a wide variety of venues across downtown Calgary from January 8th to January 26th, 2020. There is absolutely something waiting for everyone in this impressive annual lineup of dance, drama, comedy, and musical performances. It’s budget friendly too, ranging from free performances to around $40 per ticket. $15 Wednesday’s are a thing too. Why do Calgarians flock to HPR? Because it’s a really cool festival put on by super awesome people.

Want to check out some shows for free? We’re giving away some tickets below!

Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post.

What is One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre?

One Yellow Rabbit was founded in 1982 by the incomparable Michael Green, started out as a funky, diverse group of performers – actors, writers, poets, jugglers, musicians and a dancer – that have been loud and proud on Calgary’s arts and performance scene, always pushing to bring politics and social issues to the audience in ways that are humorous, touching, pointed, and achingly real.

Over the years the members of OYR have built a powerhouse organization that creates and tours its work nationally and internationally, presented work from the national and international performing arts community during the annual High Performance Rode they created, and fostering the budding artistic community through their annual Summer Lab Intensive and the beautifulyoungartist and Beautiful Young Students initiatives. For good measure, they contribute to the local community through the Big Secret Theatre, a 190-seat theatre located in the Arts Commons complex.

The Beginning of the High Performance Rodeo

In 1987 the first “One Yellow Rabbit Secret Elevator Experimental Performance Festival” was released to the world in a conventionally unconventional way; after hours in a downtown Calgary office building. It was so unconventional that ticket holders were instructed to call a number for directions, after which they were met at a secret location, where they were ushered into a darkened elevator and transported to a what would today be called a pop-up, but then was simply a make-shift stage that was, by day, the office of One Yellow Rabbit’s General Manager. The audience, in that plucky first year, watched with delight as artists tried out new writing, played compositions on toy pianos, climbed out windows and partied on the rooftops. There’s that unconventional part again.

The High Performance Rodeo grew over the next thirty years into a fantastic atmosphere of collaboration and experimentation; giving an incredible forum and voice to local and international artists as they tackle all manners of subject matter in an array of mediums, in as many spaces as humanly (and maybe not so humanly) possible.

What’s Happening For 2020

There’s so many things! Every single day has something different.

Below are a few of the events you may be interested in, and a contest for each one.

Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life

Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life High Performance Rodeo 2020

Fresh from his Off-Broadway debut, Keith Alessi shares his inspirational true story of leaving the corporate world behind to follow his true passion – playing the banjo! When facing a battle with cancer, his lifelong dream becomes the key to saving his life. Told through humour and music, this is an uplifting story of challenge, triumph, and the power of positivity.


  • Find Seats Tue Jan 1412:00 PM
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  • Find Seats Fri Jan 1712:00 PM
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  • Find Seats Mon Jan 2012:00 PM
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  • Find Seats Thu Jan 236:00 PM
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  • Find Seats Sat Jan 2512:00 PM

Win A Pair Of Tickets!

Tomatoes Tried To Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life

Room 2048 (2048 號房)

Room 2048 High Performance Rodeo 2020

“A clever, fascinating, and absorbing dance piece that lingers in the memory longafter the show . . . What unfolded over the next 50 minutes was a multi media show of impeccable class. This is a company that is full of confidence, and trusts in its ability to engage and challenge its audience.”–Lawrence Kelson, Plank Magazine

Witty, Political, Diasporic.

Room 2048 — a dream machine for the Cantonese diaspora. A living past, a waning future, and a precarious present. In digital light and smoke, we pursue a history that is not ours. We will lie. We will cheat. We will spend thousands of years here.

Through the layering of projection, bombastic pop music, fog, and the Chinese body, Room 2048 weaves together cinematic images that speak to diasporic experiences of loss, desire, and nostalgia.



Win A Pair Of Tickets!

Room 2048 (2048 號房 )

The Land, The Animals

High Performance Rodeo 2020 The Land, The Animals

From the creative force that brought you last year’s High Performance Rodeo smash hit Live Your Prime, with Damien Frost comes an elegant comedy like no other.

Written and directed by Blake Brooker C.M., this timely tale originally produced in 1991 showcases the artistry of local artists Denise Clarke C.M., Andy Curtis, Christopher Hunt, and original music by David Rhymer. An elegant comedy from Canada’s vanishing wetlands, this is a uniquely eloquent ecological comedy and contemporary dance production which places three scientists into a modern city of the future to investigate the land and the animals as they piece together the final moments of a troubled geologist.

See these world renowned artists expertly honing their craft through comedy, dance, and a powerful story that will stay with you.


Win A Pair Of Tickets!

The Land, The Animals

Premium Content

High Performance Rodeo 2020 Premium Content

Sexy, Visceral, Dynamic.

Kicking off their national tour at the High Performance Rodeo.

Blair makes videos. Blair needs a project. Blair has a webcam. Blair has some friends. Blair’s friends are into some kinky shit.

Premium Content is a play about art, consent, polyamory and the Internet. It’s aplay about boundaries: In relationships, in art, and the grey space where they converge. It’s a play about the difference between a funeral and a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a play about trying really hard to be really cool. In an age whereyou can access anything online, how do you know what is truly good and what is truly bad?

After a sold out run at the Pumphouse Theatre, the Major Matt Mason Collectiveis thrilled to be bringing this play back to Calgary audiences.The collective’s innovative production is staged with rotating casting. Six actors each learned three of the play’s five roles, offering a unique casting combination for every performance.

Featuring live video feeds, motion-capture animation, innovative design, and an ensemble engaging in the impossible, Premium Content is an explosively and undeniably live experience.


Win A Pair Of Tickets!

Premium Content

Queer Blind Date

High Performance Rodeo 2020 Queer Blind Date

The smash hit Blind Date returns to the High Performance Rodeo, with a wild twist!

There’s nothing like the thrill of a first date… anything can happen!

In this reimagined version of Rebecca Northan’s smash-hit play, the saucy Mimi, and the handsome Mathieu, take turns finding love with a different person each night–plucked right from the audience. Following its international success at the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this fast and funny fusion of improv, theatre, and clown takes a long-requested journey into queer romance to welcome an ever-expanding community of romantic heroes that will have you falling in love again and again.

This Blind Date celebrates and explores the particulars of queer courtship and romance. Our sexy French clowns revel in our quirky queerness in a way that is sure to make you fall in love with them, and their audience-member-turned-romantic-hero, each night. Developed in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, with Artistic Director, Evalyn Parry, QBD is open to same sex, trans, and gender-queer pairings each night.

Queer Blind Date celebrates the particulars of queer courtship and romance in this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fusion of improvisation, theatre, and clown. For same sex couples, trans, gender-queer, and anyone who’s ever been on a date!


Win A Pair Of Tickets!

Queer Blind Date


High Performance Rodeo 2020 Certified

“Derbyshire is a skillful comic who can make you laugh at anything”–Irish Times

Comedian and certified insane person JD Derbyshire turns the audience into a mental health review board to help determine her current state of sanity. Join this irreverent fun of JD’s hilarious and heart-aching journey through the mental health system. Together, we grapple with hefty questions like: how do we define“crazy” and who gets to decide? In this case: you do.

Mental health issues have come out of the closet recently, though there still is much stigma attached. Employing an audacious, articulate writing style, JD creates candid, compelling material about discovering her need for vigilant self-care. Her background as a trail blazing,queer, female stand-up comedian and her vast experience as a playwright-performer contributes to making Certified a rich and unique work.


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Calgary is so lucky to have High Performance Rodeo! Almost 3 weeks straight of daily performances. If you’re able to donate, the money goes towards things like providing tickets to people who can’t afford them, hiring an ASL interpreter for an event, reducing mobility accessibility issues, etc.

Thanks for reading 🙂


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