Not willing to sit quietly in the corner, the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festivals three-year-old Words and Stories event has corralled a diverse and edgy lineup for the Millennium Place stage this year.
Event founder Michel Beaudry, an acclaimed ski and adventure writer based in Vancouver, will return as a contributor and will reprise his perennial role as emcee, presiding over this years interpretations of the "tales from the mountains" theme.
While last years event offered a thought-provoking and entertaining lineup of notable scribes including Susan Reifer, Leslie Anthony, Jack Christie, and G.D. Maxwell, the fare was similar from presenter to presenter: journalistic pieces or personal essays, read in animated, yet measured tones.
Beaudry says his contribution this year will be similar to last years fare, but otherwise hes aiming to shake things up. Joining him on stage will be eclectic Vancouver urban music artist Kinnie Starr, freeskier/spoken word artist Jeff Holden, ski magazine/adventure writer and newspaper columnist Kevin Brooker and an irrepressible Whistler institution, GLC manager, bon vivant, actor and genuine ordained minister the Reverend J. Michael Varrin, Esq.
"What I saw last year is we had too much of the same style," Beaudry said. "Im a real fan of story telling in all its different forms, so what I wanted to do this year is open it up."
Beaudry admits hes taken a risk with the lineup, particularly with the inclusion of veritable loose cannons such as Holden, but feels the audience is ready to join him.
"Im pushing the limits here," he said. "Im trying some new stuff and Im hoping people will be entertained and inspired.
"Weve got a group of very non-ordinary people and I think that, to me, is whats going to make it an interesting evening. Why give people what theyre expecting? Thats not what the mountains do! To me, this is what a mountain arts festival should be: a little bit edgy, a little bit off the charts."
Words and Stories is joined this year by a new literary event, the 48-Hour Collective Novel Experiment, which will involve members of the Whistler Writers Group collaborating out of a gondola installation in the heart of the village.
With new visual art events also added to this years roster, the arts side of the festival appears to be flourishing.
Beaudry attributes the success to the festival-goer mindset.
"The audience has very much been a part of the art," he stated, "this is what has set the arts side of the festival apart. People come and they support the performers. Theres a great deal of positive energy."
The third annual Words and Stories event takes place Sunday, April 10 in the Millennium Place theatre. For ticket information go to the festival website www.whislter2005.com.