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The local theatre production company, CONTAGIOUS, presents James Cairns in three solo works at the National Arts Festival this year: The Devil and Billy Markham, James Cairns Against Humanity and 2015’s Golden Ovation Award Winner, El Blanco.

Written by Gwydion Beynon and performed by James Cairns, EL BLANCO, is a solo western, “…funny, filled with fantastical stories, a little singing, a little strumming, some poignancy thrown in for good measure, and, mainly, thoroughly entertaining.”  El Blanco wants so much to be a great mariachi, but he ends up somewhere else—a story of lost potential regained.

Critics had lots to say about El Blanco when it was named as the Golden Ovation Award Winner in 2015. “One of the highlights of the festival…,” Steve Kromberg, Cue, “Virtuoso, spell-binding master class in storytelling,” Keith Millar, Artsmart, “…you will be completely smitten by this wildly creative monodrama, which vies with loose and totally fabulous abandon between being immensely proper, and totally off the wall, with the flick of an eyebrow,” Robyn Sassen and “…about as polished and on point as it’s possible to be,” Bruce Dennill, Radio Today.

National Arts Festival Contagious
James Cairns in The Devil and Billy Martin. Image: Provided

Directed by Jenine Collocott and performed by James Cairns, Shel Silverstein’s THE DEVIL AND BILLY MARKHAM tells the improbable story of down-on-his-luck singer/songwriter Billy Markham.  Told in classic Silverstein iambic pentameter and set on Nashville’s famed Music Row, the six chapter tome details Markham’s odyssey from the legendary Linebaugh’s sandwich shop, to Hell, to Heaven and then back again.

National Arts Festival Contagious
James Cairns Against Humanity. Image: Provided

In JAMES CAIRNS AGAINST HUMANITY, the eponymous Cairns faces off against the hit card game Cards Against Humanity in an improvised, made-up-on-the-spot, full-length solo show.

CONTAGIOUS consists of director, Jenine Collocott; performers Taryn Bennett and James Cairns; and producers Helen and Simon Cooper.

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