Presented by Edmonton’s NextGen
Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Myer Horowitz Theatre (SUB)
$12 for students at primeboxoffice.com
Standing up on a stage to deliver a personal presentation to hundreds while sweating underneath the blinding heat of spotlights is certainly no easy task. Add a rigid time limit and the rapid-fire style of PechaKucha Nights and it becomes downright nerve-wracking. Thursday marked Edmonton NextGen’s 14th PechaKucha Night, wherein ten passionate Edmontonians were given six minutes and 40 seconds to deliver a presentation on whatever their hearts desired.
In terms of topics, the criteria was loose, though given the event’s grassroots history, most of the presentations had a local focus. First on the bill was Dave Mowat, President and CEO of ATB Financial, whose presentation “Light it up, #yeg!” questioned why Edmonton’s bridges don’t feature lighting arrangements. Taking full of advantage of the visual aspects of the presentation, Mowat created renderings of the High Level, Low Level, and Groat bridges lit up in a variety of colours, making the drab structures more pronounced while giving the opportunity to celebrate special occasions with added visual flare. As Mowat keenly noted, “Without light, lifeless things stay lifeless.”
The highlight of the night was enthusiastic local management consultant Shawn Kanungo presenting “I Love the Spelling Bee,” in which he described a personal and cultural journey to discover why Indian-American youth are so good at spelling. Shedding light on the high stakes of what he terms the “Indian Hunger Games,” he outlined the pursuit of excellence that defines not only the spelling bee, but also Indian culture. In the end, his revelation was that superb spelling has been built into their DNA after years of being forced to spell words through their thick accents over the phone to confused customer service agents.
While some added lustre to their presentation through light and movement, some used multimedia to their detriment. The John Humphrey Centre’s “Imagine a Dream” presentation featured two speakers encouraging the crowd to imagine a life free of human rights violations. Supported by a talented young cellist, the musical accompaniment did more to drown out their voices than create an affecting atmosphere. It was a valiant effort, but certainly showed the difficulty of coordinating multiple performance styles.
Offering an outlet for passionate Edmontonians who are aching to experiment with a challenging platform, PechaKucha Night is steadily growing as one of Edmonton’s premier events. Though some presentations didn’t quite transcend the simple PowerPoint format, many speakers rose to the occasion, bringing their vibrant personalities and creative pursuits to display in front of a captivated and encouraging audience. Although the scope at times extended to world affairs or abstract universal concepts, the night was bookended by artfully explored local topics aimed at stirring up some joy in the Edmonton identity.
Moving forward, there’s no doubt that PechaKucha will continue to grow, casting from an ever-expanding pool of skilled and passionate local presenters.
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