by Stephen Dafoe
Quest Theatre is coming to Morinville Jan. 23 with Snow Angel, a story about kindness told without words. Sponsored by Morinville Sobeys; the play hits the stage at 1:30 p.m. and there is no charge for admission.
Snow Angel is an original production created by Nikki Loach with artistic contributions by Peter Balkwill and development support from Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. The production developed over a period of four years, and 2016 marks the third season touring show.
The one-hour performance tells the story of Angela, who lives in a small community where neighbours are disrespectful and uncaring. The story of kindness unfolds through the relationship between Angela, her brother Ethan, and the Old Man, who lives next door.
“The audience can expect a sweet, gentle story that confirms the benefits of living in [a] community, and that kind acts can have a positive [effect] on all of us,” said Iam Coulter, Quest Theatre’s Director of Education, Development and Outreach.
Coulter said there were many topics for conversation between adults and their young people when they’ve watched the play. These include how hard it is for a young person to apologize to an adult for a mistake, and observations around the consequences of kind and mean acts.
The Calgary-based theatrical group use music and movement to tell the story of the ripple effect of kindness in an Alberta community during winter.
“The story is conveyed through action,” Coulter said. “Audiences tend to be very engaged as they piece together meaning. Music also helps with understanding the emotions the characters are going through in the play. We worked really hard to break down the gestures so that we are clear with the story. We need to control where the audience looks for important information or else they may miss it.”
Adding to the movement of the play is Quest’s decision to use masks, which give the characters a larger-than-life appearance.
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“We began with a wordless piece, and one of my colleagues suggested trying masks,” Coulter said, adding that after consulting with co-director Peter Balkwill, they decided on masks by Kate Braidwood of the Wonderheads. “She supplied us with a set of her ‘larval’ masks, but Pete actually feels they are more like character masks. Larval masks are just shapes; these have a nose and cheeks, etc. The use of the masks put the piece in another world. We are able, as audience, to project ourselves and others we know into the story. The masks give the piece a whimsical and magical feel.”
The one-hour performance uses three actors to play seven roles. Léda Davies performs as Angela. Jason Mancini plays Ethan and the bird. Matthew McKinney performs as the Old Man, Buddy, and the Delivery Man. All three actors play Timmy Clown. Nova Lea Thorne is the production’s stage manager, and Melanie Crawford is the apprentice stage manager.
Later this year, Quest will be taking Snow Angel to Chicago’s Children’s Theatre, Manitoba Theatre for Young People and the National Art’s Centre.
The Morinville stop takes place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Jan. 23 at 1:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission.