‘SPARC’ling youth spirit
April 22, 2014
By Zach Cox
In 2007, the Conjurors presented The Last of the Great White Pine, wherein the spirits of the pines told their story through spoken word poetry.
In 2014, the spirits have returned, and an adaptation, The Spirit of the Great White Pine, will be premiering at the Bark Lake Leadership Centre on Saturday, April 26, as a portion of the Symposium for the Performing Arts in Rural Communities. The multimedia production will feature music, spoken word poetry, and youth dancers.
The production was developed as a collaboration between three parties: playwright Michael Fay who wrote the initial production and its poem, musician Bethany Houghton who adapted six stanzas of the spoken word poem into song, and Julie Barban of Heritage Ballet who choreographed a dance for eight of her students.
Together, the three pieces will tell the story of the great white pines.
The creation of the 20-minute The Spirit of the Great White Pine has taken approximately nine months and Fay is excited by the new angle his original story has taken.
“To me, what’s important about this premiere is that it shows how creative our performers are and how unique they can be,” he says.
Houghton echoed the sentiment, saying she would like for the audience “to get a good sense of this area as a whole. Not just in a historical sense, but what we’re capable of in the arts.”
The performance has a strong environmental message and seeks to make the audience question how humans and nature should coexist.
Houghton said the environmental message is delivered in the past tense, showing how non-environmentally conscious actions have consequences.
Fay said “the audience will come to understand where they are and what was here. I hope their socks get knocked off.” As a component of SPARC, the production is an opportunity to showcase to attendees how performing arts in rural communities can be facilitated.
The interdisciplinary component of the production is one aspect, and youth involvement is another. The fact that the cast of eight dancers is comprised of youth who are students at the Heritage Ballet studio is a highlight of the performance.
Lily Manning, Jaiden Mueller, Abigail Kauffeldt, Mikaela Kauffeldt, Claire Karaguesian, Rebecca Hamilton, Christine Bishop and Jordyn Brown will take to the stage for The Spirit of the Great White Pine on April 26. The inclusion of youth and an inter-generational stance are central to SPARC’s message, and the symposium has a youth caucus component.
The goal of the youth caucus is to ensure the voices of youth in the rural performing arts scene – performers, creators, directors, technicians, presenters and producers – are taken into consideration.
Fay is proud of Haliburton County’s continued support of youth in the performing arts.
“This area is an incredible producer of young talent that really prizes and wants to promote it,” he says.