Ensemble cast sets poetry in motion

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Creemore teen Aidan Jackson is part of a collaborative ensemble cast putting poetry and the environment centre stage this month with Collingwood’s Quarter Century Theatre.

The troupe is presenting Collected Stories for a Better World, meshing acting, dance and song into a series of vignettes under the direction of Rochelle Reynolds, the founder and artistic director of Quarter Century Theatre. 

Jackson said he has been acting since the age of three and has been a part of several community and school productions, but nothing quite like this. 

Reynolds, working with Jake McArthur, started the creative process by choosing a couple dozen poems from all over the world, ranging from antiquity to modern day. The poems range from Only Breath by Rumi and Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice, with two poems penned by McArthur specifically for the play. 

From there, the eight-member cast began working out how they inspired and informed the performance and how the scenes would flow together. 

“It confronts the idea the world would be fine without human kind, therefore it is up to humans to live better,” said Reynolds. “We as humans can do something to make it better.”

Cast member and second-in-command Drew Murdoch says it is about the relationship between humans and the rest of the world, “a rocky relationship at best.”

Chief choreographer Erin McAndrew, musical director Natalie Jurke, actors Luke Ford, Nina Lewis and Jackson, have all contributed to the evolution of the play through a collaborative process. They all sing, dance, act, perform monologues and there is even some chanting. 

Reynolds, a professional actor, led four major productions in 2017, in addition to theatre education.

Collected Stories for a Better World is on stage at the Shipyards Amphitheatre in Collingwood at 7 p.m. May 16-19, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on the Saturday. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $40 at the door. They are available online at www.qctheatre.ca. The venue has covered seating, so the show is rain or shine.

Trina Berlo: The cast of Quarter Century Theatre’s Collected Stories for a Better World Jake McArthur, Rochelle Reynolds, Luke Ford, Nina Lewis, Aidan Jackson, Natalie Jurke, Drew Murdoch and Erin McAndrew (absent).

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