A sneak peek of the Open Spaces Theatre Festival from Thursday to Sunday in downtown Peterborough

Live theatre returns to Peterborough, safely bringing comedy, tragedy, mythos, and mysticism to outdoor audiences from September 24th to 27th

Ryan Hancock and Tanya Filipopoulos perform during a dress rehearsal of "The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar" in the parking lot of The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough. Written and directed by Alessandra Ferreri and produced by Dane Shumak of Cordwainer Productions, the play is one of five being performed outdoors in downtown Peterborough during the COVID-safe Open Spaces Theatre Festival from September 24 to 27, 2020. (Photo: Sarah McNeilly / kawarthaNOW.com)
Ryan Hancock and Tanya Filipopoulos perform during a dress rehearsal of "The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar" in the parking lot of The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough. Written and directed by Alessandra Ferreri and produced by Dane Shumak of Cordwainer Productions, the play is one of five being performed outdoors in downtown Peterborough during the COVID-safe Open Spaces Theatre Festival from September 24 to 27, 2020. (Photo: Sarah McNeilly / kawarthaNOW.com)

The timing for the Open Spaces Theatre Festival is perfect. In fact, it couldn’t be better. From Thursday, September 24th to Sunday, September 27th, live performance will make it’s triumphant return to downtown Peterborough.

Surviving six months in a global pandemic has been difficult, to say the least. We have done our very best to carry on despite the numerous and varied challenges we have faced, both individually and collectively. We have done our best because it is all we can do. But surviving is a grim struggle. Living in survival mode, constantly cycling through fight-or-flight response is soul-sucking. It’s exhausting.

Fortunately, our nervous systems also have the capacity for transformative states of bliss that activate when we still our minds and are truly present; when we feel connection, understanding, and love. When we experience joy, we venture further into a sense of authentic well-being; we prosper, we flourish, and we thrive. We deserve to thrive.

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Theatre is a sophisticated expression of a basic human need — it’s part of what makes us human — it gives us much needed catharsis. In a time when our entire lives revolve around screens, it is so important for us to be able to safely come together; to bear witness; to contemplate; to laugh; to be provoked, inspired, and moved.

This weekend, Peterborough audiences have the opportunity to do just that. Here’s a sneak peek at the programming for the Open Spaces Theatre Festival, presented in association with 4th Line Theatre of Millbrook.

 

Vision at Patmos

Illuminated by the dappled autumn light, an aged apostle John, performed by the show’s writer Mark Finnan, beckons the audience into his world. Through John the apostle’s story-telling, with the help of enchanting musical accompaniment by Tori Owen, the audience is transported to the ancient city of Ephesus in 97 CE, where the apostle John tells the story of his exile by the Romans to the Isle of Patmos and the extraordinary vision he had there.

Though John’s story from the book of Revelations is 2,000 years old, elements of his tale are relatable to current world events. Tales of apocalypses, uncertainties, and conflicts seemed, at times, to be alluding to our current news cycle. John even mentions a sorcerer, who tormented villagers with his deceit and trickery, and recalls eating berries while he made a cave his sanctuary.

Enlivened by each other’s presence, as we bear witness to John’s remarkable tale of the struggle between light and darkness, we are reminded to seek more conscious, spiritually attuned lives.

Whether or not you are a believer, there is something truly beautiful about being told that we are sons and daughters of love.

Performance location: Ashburnham Realty parking lot (116 Hunter Street West at the northeast corner of Hunter and Water streets)

Performance dates:

  • Thursday, September 24th at 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 25th at 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 26th at 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27th at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Tanya Filipopoulos during a dress rehearsal of "The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar" in the parking lot of The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough. The show's original music, written by Caitlin Currie and Kevin Lemieux, is performed by an ensemble comprised of the two songwriters, along with Justin Hiscox and Sam Quinn. The instrumental performances beautifully accompanied the duets, sung in perfect harmony, by Hancock and Filipopoulos. (Photo: Sarah McNeilly / kawarthaNOW.com)
Tanya Filipopoulos during a dress rehearsal of “The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar” in the parking lot of The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough. The show’s original music, written by Caitlin Currie and Kevin Lemieux, is performed by an ensemble comprised of the two songwriters, along with Justin Hiscox and Sam Quinn. The instrumental performances beautifully accompanied the duets, sung in perfect harmony, by Hancock and Filipopoulos. (Photo: Sarah McNeilly / kawarthaNOW.com)

 

Surviving Canada

Does anyone remember laughter? Surviving Canada will certainly jog your memory and have your possibly atrophied abdominal muscles working hard to help rid you of your COVID-19 … pounds!

Award-winning comedians Stephan Dyer and Juan Cajiao share their immigrant experience in a show that combines improv, stand-up, storytelling, and audience interaction.

Laughter is the great leveller. As Russian literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin notes, laughter marks a temporary mastery not just over the sacred and even over death; it also signals “the defeat of power, of earthly kings, of the earthly upper classes, of all that represses and restricts” (Rabelais and His World, 92).

Neither self-deprecating nor rant-y, the observational humour in this interactive show about the hardships and culture shock of moving to Canada playfully subverts power-relationships and mocks dominant assumptions.

Performance location: Ashburnham Realty parking lot (116 Hunter Street West at the northeast corner of Hunter and Water streets)

Performance dates:

  • Thursday, September 24th at 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, September 25th at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 26th at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27th at 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
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The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar

Written and directed by Alessandra Ferreri and produced by Dane Shumak of Cordwainer Productions, this delightfully playful musical show follows “future star-crossed lovers” (or not?) as they bear witness to one another, after-hours in a bar.

Ophiuchus, the oft-excluded 13th zodiac sign, played by Ryan Hancock, walks into a bar in hopes of securing a spot on the highly coveted open mic set list. There he meets a barista and expert astrologer, played by Tanya Filipopoulos, as she closes the bar.

The show’s original music, written by Caitlin Currie and Kevin Lemieux, performed by an ensemble comprised of the two songwriters, along with Justin Hiscox and Sam Quinn, was such a treat to hear. The instrumental performances beautifully accompanied the duets, sung in perfect harmony, by Hancock and Filipopoulos.

The tension between the two characters is as playful as Ferreri’s use of archetypes and tropes. Yet, as their encounter goes on, the audience is provoked to question the stars: is everything inevitable? Perhaps, we’ll never know.

Performance location: The Theatre On King parking lot (171 King Street, between George and Aylmer streets)

Performance dates:

  • Thursday, September 24th at 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 25th at 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 26th at 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27th at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Ryan Hancock and Tanya Filipopoulos during a dress rehearsal of "The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar". The play will be performed, outside, in the parking lot of The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough with COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place to protect the performers and the audience. (Photo: Sarah McNeilly / kawarthaNOW.com)
Ryan Hancock and Tanya Filipopoulos during a dress rehearsal of “The 13th Sign Walks into a Bar”. The play will be performed, outside, in the parking lot of The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough with COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place to protect the performers and the audience. (Photo: Sarah McNeilly / kawarthaNOW.com)

 

Daughter

4th Line Theatre’s Kim Blackwell will premiere her debut script, which examines family estrangement, at the Open Spaces Theatre Festival.

Daughter is a story of tragic error; of the failings of love that become true failings. The heart-wrenching piece contemplates (mis)communication, abandonment, love, betrayal, contempt, inertia, persistence, and beholding.

Dani Breau and Peyton Le Barr, directed by Lindy Finlan, deliver spectacular and nuanced performances as the estranged mother and daughter who each tells their own side of the same story.

There is no villain; rather, both women are victims of their own actions (or lack thereof). While both mother and daughter cling to an untenable, bygone past that perhaps never was and never will be, there is yet a strange hope in the resignation: “sometimes life has other plans.”

Performance location: The Theatre On King parking lot (171 King Street, between George and Aylmer streets)

Performance dates:

  • Thursday, September 24th at 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, September 25th at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 26th at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27th at 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
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Festival organizer Christina Adams, with the support of 4th Line Theatre, is providing Peterborough artists and audiences an opportunity to thrive.

As festival personnel meticulously and painstakingly prepared for opening night by measuring distances between chairs, double-checking safety procedures, and making last-minute adjustments to protective barriers built into the sets, I realized what a gift the Open Spaces Theatre Festival is. It is a gesture of love.

Right now, perhaps with the exception of retreating to a blanket-fort in the confines of your home, the Open Spaces Theatre Festival is one of the absolute safest activities you can partake in. Future-you will be so grateful to have gifted yourself the transformative, cathartic bliss Open Spaces generously offers (especially if it turns out to be your only chance to see theatre this year). Regardless of what our future may hold, you certainly do not want to regret your absence.

Tickets are $17 each per performance or $60 for a festival pack. Purchase tickets and gift certificates by phone at 705-932-4445 (toll free at 1-800-814-0055), online at 4thlinetheatre.on.ca, or at 4th Line Theatre’s box office at 4 Tupper Street in Millbrook.

Patrons are asked to bring their own chairs and to wear masks until safely seated. Lunch box items, in partnership with Black Honey, will be available for $13 for patrons to enjoy before, after, or during the performances.

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