Within Reach creates a new way of storytelling 0
Madeline Hopkins and Caleb Zilla
They danced, they sang, they portrayed.
The seven girls and one man who comprised the cast of Within Reach became a collective group of storytellers, ultimately creating a new medium of theatre.
Making its debut at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion on July 8, Within Reach is unlike other performances within the Highlands Summer Festival.
Created by artistic producer and director Scot Denton, the show cannot be described simply as a comedy, a musical or a drama.
Instead it is all of these things and more.
Part of the Highlands Summer Festival, Within Reach begins with a young girl, played by Madeline Hopkins, assigned a school project examining the history of women’s education.
Unsure of where to begin, the cast, which includes Michelle Bailey, Christine Bishop, Jessica Bishop, Madeline, Loretta Kerr, Breana LaRue, Charlotte Paton and Caleb Zilla, take the audience to the dawn of time, the caveman era.
Through contemporary and interpretive dance, the cast depict the type of learning done during this period, learning done through observation and survival skills.
With the help of a narrator, various timeframes are fleshed out, from the Greeks discovering philosophy to the Victorian upper class, where it is more desired to marry and start a family than it is to study.
The struggles and challenges are also depicted, particularly in a poignant scene where Kerr is denied acceptance into the University of Toronto’s medical school simply because she is a woman.
Unwilling to be deterred by this fact, Kerr disguises herself as a man and away she goes.
As education and schooling begins to come into grasp in the mid 1900s, women are now faced with new challenges and stereotypes, such as the misconception that boys excel at math and science.
The story tells us that in 1905 only four per cent of physicians in Canada were female, however, by 2012 58 per cent of medical students are women.
“Girls might be better at science than they thought,” the narrator comments.
At times comical and serious, Within Reach is all the while entertaining, with dance providing the backbone to the story.
Choreographed by Jenee Gowing, the production is a stunning example of the beautiful talent available to the Highlands in the form of eight skilled performers.
It is those same cast members that conclude the show by revealing their personal history of education and their plans for the future, all intending to follow their dreams, whatever they might be.
Within Reach is being performed until July 10.
For more information on the Highlands Summer Festival visit www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca or call 705-457-9933.