Cautionary tales

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Stars of Fusion Project improvise their own fairy tale

Paul Bogdan
A&C Writer

Fusion is where I began my professional theatre career, [and] having learned these skills as a young person is immensely helpful to me, now, as a professional,” explained Judy Wensel, one of the co-directors for the Globe Theatre’s latest Shumiatcher Sandbox Series work, the Fusion Project.

The Fusion Project features a cast of young people that are between the ages of sixteen and nineteen. Not only are they actors, but the writers of the performance as well. “The Fusion Project is a collaborative theatre creation project that the Globe does every year for the past seven years. Over the course of several months, the group works together to create a new show that is then premiered as part of the Sandbox Series.”

This year’s production will contrast youthful innocence with stark reality. It features children living in an adultless world. Wensel says that “inspiration [was drawn] from such classics as Heinrich Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter – a collection of cautionary children’s tales and the world of “Dick and Jane” stories. This year’s Fusion Project explores a world imagined, ruled, and influenced by children. It’s about children living in a world without adults, how they manage on their own, and how these childlike personalities interact. The idea of childhood innocence bashing up against darker undertones and themes.”

Establishing a strong narrative element into the Fusion Project was a goal of the directors. By constructing firm, definite characters in the production stages, this was able to happen. “Every ensemble player plays a really particular character, and then [the audience] get[s] to follow the stories of these characters over the course of the show. Fusion pieces are typically episodic pieces, but [co-director Lucy Hill and I] made it a goal of ours this year to try to have some really clear stories that we were trying to tell, and I think that we were successful in that; we understand who these people are … where they are coming from, and what happens to them.”

What’s so unique to the production is fresh and animate character. Changes to the production “happen right up until opening night because it’s a new work, and there’s this great energy behind it because it’s so fresh to the ensemble.” This constantly evolving piece makes touching up and polishing the performance particularly interesting, with “some really interesting characters in the piece [coming] through in the last week of rehearsal.”

By getting young people involved in theatre, the Globe helps to build and develop the skills of the youth here in Regina. Doing so helps to ensure the growth of the theatre community in the city; thus, aspiring theatre artists are no longer being pushed away to larger cities. “The Globe certainly is really focused towards the development of young artists, and I think the Fusion Project was part of this goal of theirs to make the Globe Theatre where Saskatchewan artists could work and develop their craft … even ten years ago, no one stayed in Regina to start their career; they had to go someplace else. There’s this generation of young people in Regina right now, of which Lucy [Hill] and I are both a part of, that are so fortunate to have the Globe Theatre who provides us with these opportunities to work here in the city.”

Things like Fusion Project and the Globe Theatre School are proving to be beneficial to developing young talent, as Wensel says, “I think there’s tons [of young, Regina talent]. Coming to the decision of who’s in the ensemble this year was a really difficult one because there were so many great applicants. There’s a lot going on in the city for youth that helps kind of develop this interest in theatre. It seems that a lot of young people really jump on … an opportunity like the Fusion Project.”

Because the Fusion Project was created by its performers, the piece helps to develop more than just the acting skills of the artists. The performers’ abilities to improvise, create, and collaborate were all enhanced during the project. “So often in development stages, Lucy and I [would] just give the ensemble a really loose starting point, and then say, ‘You have half an hour; create something,’ and then at the end of the half hour, they have a little piece. Also, collaborative theatre creation really has a focus on learning how to create a fully-realized piece and understanding how things fit together. It’s different than sitting down and writing a play because the writing is done on your feet.”

If you’re planning on attending, expect “some laughs … and a really memorable theatre experience. The thing about Fusion Projects is that you get to witness something that is really dear to the people involved. They were there since its inception. When watching theatre pieces, you can really tell when the people performing it are really proud of it and really passionate about it. [The audience] can expect a really enjoyable night at the theatre.”

Fusion Project runs until April 2, and tickets can be purchased at the Globe Theatre or online at globetheatrelive.com for $20.

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