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Community Living players shine a new light on performing




By Brock Weir

 

When Shelburne's Barb Squirrel takes the stage at Theatre Orangeville next Wednesday, her husband George will be in the audience cheering her on.

“In A New Light”, the latest collaborative drama program between Community Living Dufferin and Theatre Orangeville opens Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m., continuing the following evening at the same time, and wrapping up June 3 at 11 a.m., and is a performance of songs, monologues and drama celebrating everyone's abilities.

This is the fourth time Barb, a resident of Shelburne for over 18 years, has been on stage with the Creative Partners on Stage Drama Troupe, and Wednesday's performance is special. It's George's birthday and when she treads the boards, she says she's doing so in his honour.

“Our play has jokes and campfire songs, dancing, singers, acting, and pods that light up,” Barb explains. “The theme is ‘light.'”

That is a theme that extends right through the players.

While Barb says she particularly liked helping out making the pods, she also likes giving a hand to her fellow performers when they have a problem.

“They have all come out of their shells for the last four years I have known them,” she says. “Everyone is coming out of their shells.”

As a performer, Barb has come into her own, says director Jane Ohland Cameron, but she has never been in a “shell.”

“I think Barb has always been out of her shell, but I have really seen her come into the fullness of who she is through her singing, through her dancing, her acting, and just her awareness of other actors on stage and supporting other actors at the same time,” says Ms. Ohland Cameron. “Barb was very out-of-her-shell to begin with but, my gosh, she has blossomed as a performer.”

And, in the end, that is the intent of performances like “In A New Light.”

“[Choreographer Jenee Gowing] and I began with the theme of light and our rehearsals all begin in a circle of storytelling,” says Ms. Ohland Cameron. “We all share our stories and we share different things about light, be it nursery rhymes from when we were young that had the moon and the stars and the sun in them, songs that have to do with light, the kinds of light we love, be it the Northern Lights, starlight or sunlight. We gradually build our own stories, share our ideas, the actors compose monologues about the things they love and are so important in their lives and, miraculously, this play begins to take shape.

“Jenee's choreography is so unique. She works with the dancers and she describes them as ‘dancing from the inside out.' You can see that from the stage. The actors are absolutely who they are, rather than playing the roles, pretending that they are other people.”

As the play comes together, Ms. Ohland Cameron says it is going to be an “amazing production.” She and Jenee are continually impressed by the talent that comes out of their actors as the rehearsals progress.

“The shows traditionally have such an effect on the audience that people say they leave the theatre at a different place than when they arrived and there are people who call the performance ‘life changing,'” says Jane. “The actors have written their own monologues, so we are able to see the world from the actors' point of view and literally how they see the world. Not only has the long process of putting the play together expanded the actors' roles, but I think the performance actually expands the worlds of the audience at the same time. Overall, it is a very profound experience. It is great fun, moving, and people are advised to bring Kleenex!”

It has been a long road from rehearsal to this point and while the clock ticks closer to the curtain-up, Barb says she is still loving every minute.

“It is exciting to see it [change] from the beginning of the rehearsals to the beginning of the play,” says Barb. “I want the audience to be happy and to enjoy it and come out. I would like to see them come back next time for whatever the play is next year, and I hope I'll be on stage next time because I really love doing it!”

 

For tickets, and more information on “In a New Light”, call Theatre Orangeville at 519-924-3423 or visit www.orangevilletix.ca. Tickets are $15.
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