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This blog post is from Salamander Theatre for Young Audiences Company Manager Sean Devine (who’s also the GCTC playwright-in-residence). Salamander Theatre will present their Remembrance Week play Where Poppies Blow at GCTC on Sunday November 2.
“Children need to go to the theatre as much as they need to run about in the fresh air.” So begins an article in The Guardian by Philip Pullman written over a decade ago but which still resonates today.
Now this statement might easily sound like hyperbole, especially when considering the well-placed value for our children that we put upon health and physical activity. But what about the value we place on developing our children’s sense of imagination, of empowerment, and even of communal experiences.
“The experience of being in the audience when a play is being performed is not simply passive. It’s not like watching TV; it’s not even like going to the cinema. Everyone in that big space is alive, and everyone is focused on one central activity.”
Now before you can say “Hey, that’s just the same as sports”...
“And everyone contributes. The actors contribute their performance. The audience contributes their imagination. Because the theatre has limitations. It’s not like the cinema or TV, where everything is real. The limitations leave for the audience to fill in the gaps. If the audience doesn’t pretend, then theatre simply doesn’t work.”
It’s this spirit of the necessity of cultural programming for our youngest citizens that keeps us focused at Salamander Theatre. As more and more schools cut their cultural funding (it’s often the first thing to go) we look for more innovative ways to get our great productions seen by our city’s youth. And we also have several ways of bringing our programming to audiences and schools who can’t normally afford live theatre.
Once more this year Salamander Theatre is proud to present Where Poppies Blow, by celebrated Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch (This Is War). We will be presenting two special “Family Shows” performances of WHERE POPPIES at GCTC on Sunday November 2 at 1:30pm and again at 4:00pm. The performance is 45 minutes long and is aimed at audiences of 7 years and up. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at this website.
Directed by Patrick Gauthier and starring Simon Bradshaw, Katie Bunting and Tony Adams, this powerful and moving play tells of the triumphs and sacrifices of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of an eleven year-old Canadian boy as he witnesses the effects of war on his small Ontario town.
Far from being a glorification of war, this tender, funny and ultimately poignant tale courageously and carefully allows a young audience into the experience of bravery and loss, in a way that doesn’t talk down or belittle children. It’s a beautiful ending that is always appreciated by young and old. And as Canada remains ever at war, it’s an appropriate time to remind our children and ourselves about the sacrifices we continue to make on distant fields and lands.