by Kerry Corrigan
This has been a year of firsts for Studio Babette Puppet Theatre. It was our first time doing a full run in a Fringe festival, and we sure picked the best one, our hometown Hamilton Fringe Festival. Performing in the Studio Theatre at Theatre Aquarius, with the support of a professional stage manager, in a room that actually goes black(!), with more professionals just outside the door handling box office – well, we felt really spoiled. We were part of the Family Fringe, geared to audiences of a tender age. Then there was the honour of being part of such a happy, committed group of artists, from home and away, including performers, technicians, administrators – everybody was just really cool.
It was especially significant for me personally because I felt like I'd come full circle. You see, I was the head theatre writer at VIEW Magazine when the very first Hamilton Fringe Festival debuted in 2002. VIEW was the media sponsor, and I scrambled to put together a team of writers, to make sure that every single show had a brief review - 39 shows in 5 venues. It was an intense experience, seeing so many terrific shows from the unique perspective of the critic's free seat. To be performing our puppet play, Where Are You Cinderella? this summer, so many years after I'd been on "the other side", was a poignant little brain flip for me.
But enough of the past. On to the future. That brings me to our second first (huh?) - our first tour. Our WWI Commemorative Fall Tour 2015, to be exact. We're playing three fascinating historical/cultural venues. We kick it off this weekend, at Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre in Southampton, up on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron. On Thursday, we'll have a line run and discuss last minute details, and load the cars. Friday morning we're on the road, 3 puppeteers and one stage manager, and enough puppets, set, props, drapes, projection equipment and various odds and ends to fill 3 vehicles. We'll set up there in the afternoon in preparation for:
The Great War Commemorated: A Family Event
Saturday October 17; 11am & 2:30pm
From Ruthven to Passchendaele
Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre
33 Victoria St N, Southampton
We'll bunk down in a hotel in Port Elgin, 2 to a room, on Friday night and wake up refreshed and invigorated, ready to tackle our free breakfast, greet the day and give two performances of our hour-long play with puppets, From Ruthven to Passchendaele. Based on the true story of the Thompson family of Ruthven, this original production was commissioned by Ruthven Park National Historic Site for Remembrance Day 2012. It shows the contrast of the genteel life in the manor with the mud and misery of the trenches in France, and the quiet healing in the hospitals in London. There's humour, tragedy and plenty of period music. Told with 13 original table-top puppets, in authentic uniforms and outfits, this play is designed to be especially relevant for students in middle school, who study the Great War in Grade 8. We recommend it for kids age 8 and up, adults and particularly, seniors.
Next weekend we're bringing the show to Ruthven Park National Historic Site, Sun Oct. 25, and then we'll be at Dundurn National Historic Site, sponsored by the Hamilton Military Museum, on Sat. Nov. 7. More on that later.
I'll check back in next week and let you know how our road trip went, whether we had any disasters and how we were received. Full tour info on our website www.studiobabette.ca.