Pickle Planet Moncton loves to touch base with some of the great organizations operating in our community. Melannie Eldridge, Manager of Partnerships and Special Projects at the Capitol Theatre, introduces us to some of the young artists taking part in this summer’s production of “The Canadas.”
Each year, The Capitol Theatre Academy (a drama program for youth and adults, run through the theatre) brings together professional and emerging artists with local citizens to create an original production that touches the heart of our region. This project is a great gift to the community, offering valuable mentorship from professionals, a creative outlet for new ideas, and the opportunity to create original work. Audiences are offered lessons and connections that are relevant and meaningful. It’s an incredible opportunity to gather, learn, and reflect on our identities while being entertained by the immense home-grown talent here in our own backyard.
Another interesting feature of the Academy production is that it is co-lingual, which is perfectly suited to a story about Canada’s culture and history. Two plays are independently created, one in English and one in French (or to be specific and delightfully regional, in Chiac). Each show has its own story and unique characters. Scenes alternate, woven together by shadow play, another creative skill performers become familiar with. The stories connect through their message of Canadian identity, impacting the audience regardless of their culture or language of choice. This is perhaps the most admirably Canadian approach to a theatrical production I’ve ever seen.
I recently attended a rehearsal for the one of this year’s two plays, “The Canadas.” The story focuses on a family of new arrivals in our community. This family has chosen to relocate in hopes of finding their brightest possible future. Though they feel nervous and unsure of what to expect, they commit to embracing their new home by learning about Canada’s history, language, and culture. They share their newfound lessons on Canadian culture with locals upon their arrival and in turn, learn a great deal more about Canada themselves. Did I mention it’s a family of humorous singing geese?
Watching the cast rehearse was an absolute joy! I was entertained and hugely impressed to see Greater Moncton’s youth displaying such immense talent. Most of all, I was astounded at how much I learned. As a 34-year-old woman, I took for granted that these performers would create a work that I would enjoy based on lessons I learned as a young student. I was fully wrong. They taught me things about my home that had never occurred to me.
After rehearsal, I interviewed three performers from the cast about their experiences so far.
Melanie Auffrey is 19 years old. Originally from Memramcook, she’s just returned home from her first year of studies at Sheridan College.
Jessica Deveau is 16 years old and performing in the community production for her second year.
Emma Parlee is 15 years old and has studied at the Capitol Theatre Academy since she was nine. This is her first year in the production.
How much of the material in the show did you know before you started?
Emma: I didn’t know basically anything!
Melanie: I knew the anthems but didn’t know the history behind them.
Jessica: Yes, I didn’t even know the French version was different! I thought both versions were the same.
Me too! I had no idea the lyrics varied so much! It’s really fascinating to think about each one and its meaning. How do you think it’s different to learn information like this through the production, rather than in a classroom?
Emma: I think if I had just learned the words I wouldn’t be as interested.
Melanie: Yes, it’s very different than sitting quietly in history class.
Jessica: If you can learn something in a fun way, it’s so much better than just getting information.
That’s so true. In all my memories, things are happening. I remember what I do a lot more than what I read or hear. Tell me a bit about the show and your characters.
Emma: I play Doris, the mother goose. She is protective and very concerned about her family. She’s hesitant to arrive in a new area.
Melanie: I’m Owl. She’s a diva. She likes to be the center of attention. She also loves to sing.
Jessica: My character is Zip, the papa goose. He’s trying to do what is best for his family and logically figure out the best plan for them.
Wow, that is interesting. So they are newcomers just arriving in our area, trying to find the best path for their family and dealing with nervousness and hesitation about where to settle. That sounds relevant. What is your favorite part of being involved in the production?
Emma: Meeting new people and seeing all the different styles of acting.
Melanie: It’s been really fun meeting everyone.
Jessica: I like that it’s fun and also teaches discipline. It shows you what being in a production is like and prepares you should you decide to pursue acting.
What do you like most about the show?
Jessica: I love the music. Music is a big part of my life. It draws people in.
Emma: The migrating Geese are a parallel to newcomers. It’s a fun, simple way to address a more serious concept.
Melanie: I think it represents Canada really well.
The Capitol Theatre Academy proudly presents “The Canadas” June 29th and 30th at 7:30PM on the Capitol Theatre stage. For tickets or information, visit www.capitol.nb.ca or call 506.856.4379.
See an excerpt of “Celebration” performed as part of Riverview Sunfest! On Wednesday, June 28th, the Capitol Theatre Academy will offer free performances on the beautiful deck of the Fundy Chocolate River Station, 391 Coverdale Road. Performances run at 6:00PM and 7:30PM.