Little theatre marks village summer market

BIA night market July 13 features music, shows and more than 100 vendors

Victoria’s smallest professional performance venue returns to Oak Bay for the monthly summer market next week.

“Oak Bay went really well, we had a lot of good response,” says Hannah Harper, administrative assistant at Theatre SKAM and manager of their Pop-Up Live Theatre Series. The free, short, family-friendly performance for June returns July 13; Jane Bee performing  Jo Leslie’s In the Belly of the Whale.

“It’s about a woman who finds herself trapped in a whale and finds Jonah’s journal from the three days he was trapped there,”

She leads the six-member audience – with more occasionally crammed in – through the journey out.

“The way we set it up it was dark and dank and you were shut in. It felt like you were in the belly of the whale,” Harper said. “We’re having so much interest from kids which I wasn’t expecting, but it makes sense because its is a big colourful thing and then you go inside it’s a whole theatre setup.”

A box on a pickup about seven by ten feet with a little lighting grid and seating for six, the evolving performance space promises to be much more than a big blue box this month, the manager says, saving some surprises for Wednesday.

“It doesn’t look like just a box anymore. I think people will be surprised and intrigued by what they find when they come inside,” Harper says. “This is our first summer of it. It’s a lot of figuring out the personality of the pop-up and what kind of people are interested in seeing in it.”

During the market they try to squeeze three shows into an hour, keeping a flowing audience.

“As people see the show and go back out into the crowd and talk about it we gather more and more interest,” she says. The pop-up has also appeared at Oaklands market, where it’s slated to return in August, as well as other festivals round the region and a launch at Phillips Brewery in Victoria.

“My plan as the summer progresses is to establish it really as a pop-up, like a food truck will pop up somewhere and you can follow it along. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to book it in parks … surprise people and see if we can gather attention,” Harper says. “This summer is definitely the experiment.”

Current shows run about 15 minutes based on the locales but during its early trials at Rifflandia last year performers did two-minute skits every five minutes.

“Right now we have two one-person shows but I’m interested in the idea of getting musician, or puppeteer,” Harper says. “It’s a venue that is suitable to a lot of art forms and provides an opportunity for emerging or established artists to try something and explore their art for different audiences that wouldn’t necessarily come out and see theatre.”

Visit to learn more about the pop-up theatre.

The Business Improvement Association’s street market draws more than 100 local vendors selling wares that include in-season produce, flowers, artisan bread, preserves, street food, tastings and sales of wine, cider, beer and spirits.

Sellers include artisans with jewellery, toys, pottery, wood turning, art cards, furniture, paintings, clothing, pet items and more.

Paul Kilshaw offers his adept hand at magic and balloon twisting. Live music this month is by KafooZalum and Los Gringos Locos.

Markets run July 13, Aug. 10 and Sept. 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. on Oak Bay Avenue.