MEACHAM — Meacham’s Dancing Sky Theatre is returning to performing shows, by adapting to COVID-19 with physically distant outdoor performances around a campfire.
“We had a lot of conversations where we thought people after lockdown are kind of itching to get back together, itching for social events, but how might we do that in a way that is safe and in a way that they feel safe,” said Angus Ferguson, the theatre’s artistic director.
When Dancing Sky first started, they performed in large outdoor productions. Now with COVID-19, going back to the old way is the safest.
“That was sort of the inspiration; find a way that is safe for people to congregate, and to return to sort of the basics. What we’re doing really isn’t theatre, it’s storytelling around the fire.”
The team built an amphitheater and firepit area in the theatre’s backyard that can hold about 30 physically distanced people.
“It’s in sort of separated chunks, with bleachers that are separated from each other. So even outdoors, people will have their own double space,” Ferguson said. “The inside, with washrooms and stuff, we’ll have traffic flow only one way.”
Spectators will be entertained with historical fiction tales, with their roots in Saskatchewan’s history.
These stories include Indigenous stories, colonial settler stories, and recent immigrant stories.
“The commonality with all the stories is the people who walked this landscape, because we’re here looking at the landscape and we designed the storytelling. So the sun will be setting about when we start, and you will be able to look out.”
Artist and storyteller Elizabeth Nepjuk will be telling the tale about Ukrainian immigrants who resettled here, drawing from her own Ukrainian heritage.
“She’s providing stories that aren’t sort of ‘fact’, but they’re kind of based around the things she knows, that her grandma and great-grandma told her. So I guess it’s about taking personal experience and turning it into fiction.”
Ferguson said that he hopes people walk away from the showings that the challenges communities face unite them
“Whether you were walking this landscape, pre-contact, or whether you were a homesteader, or whether you were someone arriving now— the joys and the challenges of the prairies, of the landscape, and common to us all, and they sort of unite us all.”
The showings in Meacham will run from Tuesday to Sunday, Sept. 10 to 20 at the Dancing Sky Theatre. The night’s events will start with a picnic at 7 p.m., and then move onto the show at 7:30 p.m.
To book tickets, people can call 306-653-5191 or visit their website at ontheboards.ca.