A Slew of Shenanigans

“‘Suuup, Peeps?’ is how we should start the blog post,” suggests Alexis.

“How about, ‘You ludicrous fools!'” says Alissa.

Oh, dear. The inside jokes are flying. Tour, you see, is a bit of a bubble–and we feel like we’ve hardly left it in the past few days.

We’ve just returned from Windsor, Nova Scotia, where were performed not one, but two shows for Avon View High School–merci à Chris, qui a facilité l’atelier et la discussion!–and we are, to say the least, the teensiest bit tired.

Has it been a full week since we last updated? Oh, dear. We should catch you up on our crazy shenanigans…

We managed a bleary-eyed wake-up call on Thursday, for a show at John Hugh Gillis Regional High School. It was one of our most challenging stages yet, being a 180-degree playing area… with two support poles right at centre stage. We had to play wider than ever before–but were heartened in our projection and sight-work by the fact that it was Laura’s first show! (Rebienvenue, Laura!) We got loads of wonderful questions about language difficulties and the strength of our tree arms… as well as some delicious cake from the cafeteria ladies. Double bonus.

Our biggest stage ever!

There was a mad dash through a grocery store in Alma to grab some lunch before a performance and a workshop at Northumberland High School, where we had a great discussion about the differences between students and animals, and how to act like a bear. Thanks so much to all of the students who stayed behind after our Lion song to talk about the Tintamarre process and ask us what philosophy was and compliment one particularly handsome cast member’s vest.

Friday led us on a long, arduous trip all the way to Amherst, NS–a staggering twenty kilometres–to E.B. Chandler Junior High School. We interrupted the Multicultural Fair during our load-out (oops), but were incredibly grateful for the help of students in the setup–and the milk and cookies we received from the cafeteria! What a gorgeous way to end a show.

E.B. Chandler’s gym was another challenge, in terms of projection. We practiced bringing our voices out to fill the space with some cluster-chords, in the style of Mount Allison’s former Crake Drama Fellow, Mary Vingoe–never before has a gym sounded like a Buddhist temple. Our ming-ahs resonated all the way across the home of the sassy cheetah (see photo below).

Note the sassy cheetah.

Our arrival at Oxford was peppered with questions by the students who were playing outside. We were bringing in a forest! Were we the French play? Why couldn’t they come and see? Were we the ones who came last year? They remembered us, too–one of the girls we had met before was the one who thanked us in front of the entire audience. There was certainly a tiny bit of Friday afternoon craziness, but the show was certainly a highlight. The audience ranged all the way from grades four to twelve, so we had to play to all age groups, which challenged us just enough to give a great edge to the show. We felt welcome–and we got so many questions! How did we make the thunder? How did the play help people learn French? Why did we carry a Barbie magazine? Could we perform next year’s play right now? We were sad to leave–but didn’t dare finish our loadout without the obligatory playground photo shoot.

The Oxford Stage

Happiness is post-show yogurt…

Il ne faut jamais oublier de jouer!

Jungling around…

And then… the weekend. Oh, dear. Two whole days without shows. We swung from trees and baked pies in the sun oven, learned to play banjo and found our rooms turned upside-down. We read each other bedtime stories and ran an Italian run-through, and ate delicious boeuf bourgignion (although the vegetarian option was amazing, too).

Monday morning–a rough start. Our alarms dragged us out from the warmth of our beds and onto the road by six-thirty–gah–and… to our largest audience ever. Four hundred and ninety people! See this gym below? Imagine it filled. Holy cow. Even though projection was a huge hurdle, the audience was incredibly responsive–hats off to all of you, Colchester Junior High School!

Le gymnase à Colchester

The members of the cast that toured last year were very excited for the second show on Monday because the students at Harmony Height Elementary School were so excited and enthusiastic and they gave us their famous Harmony Height Clap! We also got to revisit our love of all things dragon–Who’s the coolest dragon? I’m the coolest dragon! My Aunt Ulva, she have dragons… The students were lovely–they answered all of our rhetorical questions during the performance, and had loads of questions about the tree and how our costumes were made. They also wanted to know why we kept singing about dragons. Maybe Hannah can answer that one…

Funky dragon…

Pour toi, Hannah.

After a three-hour drive, we slept overnight at the St. Stephen Inn before our morning performance at St. Stephen High School. The audience were neat–they even understood our French jokes! They wanted to know why the people from British Columbia had come all the way to Mount Allison and how long we had been doing drama. The student technicians who put on a great lighting show danced along to our final song–wonderful moves, boys. We wish we could have taken a picture, but the photographers were slightly occupied…

Quel auditorium!

We had so little time until our next show at Back Bay Elementary School that we decided to defer lunch until the end of our workshop. Ten minutes to load in and set up! Warm-up and set creation in front of the students! Talk about meta-theatre. It was one of our most intimate audiences, even though we had a whole contingent all the way from Deer Island–thanks for coming, guys! There was a veritable maelstrom of questions after the show, as well as a great workshop. We learned how to stretch our faces and make delicious fruit salad. The students were eager to share that they were preparing for their own play. Break a leg, guys! We’d love the video from that show…

Notre scène à Back Bay.

Today was just as big a day, with a three-hour drive all the way to Windsor, NS for not one, buttwo shows at Avon View High School. Chris, a former Tintamarrien, welcomed us by clearing the entire room before we got there and bringing us a pizza lunch. Formidable! The space was much cozier than we were used to: we played in the drama classroom, playing around with the props and dancing about on the desks.

“There are theorists who could write articles about what we’re doing here,” exclaimed Alex. “Talk about environmental theatre!”

We did an atelier with the drama class, and went much further than we usually dare go in the workshop process. We got to try out portraits of anger, letting students invent their own tableaux in groups of five or six. The results were astounding: the tension! The levels! The unintentional… er…edges to some of the performance! (Ceux qui y étaient comprendront…) It was so very rewarding for us to work with these students. We don’t usually have the time to go into anything deeper than our warm-up process. Having the chance to integrate a creative technique that is such an important part of the Tintamarre creative process brought a completely different dimension to the dramatic education we try to bring.

Tiens, un hibou et un arbuste…

And now? Well, we’ve devolved to sitting around at the kitchen table, sipping on tea and talking about Disney movies as Nathalie makes muffins. Life is good and we are tired. Tomorrow, we head all the way up to Miramichi, then back down to Rexton. Look out, world. We’re coming. More posts and photos soon–we might even have some of our tour journal entries appear…

Vive le théâtre!

-Hibou, l’Arbre, et tout le monde

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