This play has (four) legs….and will travel
By Karen Bailey
The GCTC has helped to spawn a hit! Raising Stanley/Life With Tulia (RS/LWT), a totally accessible play about the journey from puppy to working guide dog for the blind, debuted to eight sold out audiences at the GCTC in July 2018.
Our show, developed at the GCTC by storyteller Kim Kilpatrick, visual artist Karen Bailey and director Bronwyn Steinberg (The Drowning Girls) is creating a buzz locally and further afield.
Kim and I always knew we had a unique and original production to offer. Our shared love of guide dogs and the arts, organically led us to a creative collaboration.
Back in 2015 I began a series of paintings of Stanley, the second guide dog pup my husband Iain and I raised, engaging in activities that mirror his future working life, his playtime with Tulia as well as images of my friendship with Kim. Kim developed stories based on her experiences with the four guide dogs she has handled, Gwenny, Margaret, Gia and Tulia.
When I first met Eric Coates, Artistic Director of the GCTC, at a community workshop, he was immediately drawn to the concept of a collaboration between a blind storyteller (Kim Kilpatrick) and a visual artist, with accessibility built into the show, and of course dogs, including one on the stage. Knowing we needed to work with a director, Eric introduced Kim and me to Bronwyn Steinberg (then Metcalfe Intern in Artistic Direction at the GCTC) and the three of us were off to the races.
Right from the start we planned for a travelling version of our project. The GCTC would be the only venue with all of the paintings from my Raising Stanley series displayed, thanks to the presence of the Fritzi Gallery in the lobby area just outside the Studio Theatre. The video format of our show allowed for my paintings to be included permanently in an easily transportable version as part of the performance.
What I didn’t anticipate was the interest in RS/LWT. Our sold out audiences at GCTC were evidence of a show with legs.
The combination of a humorous and heart-rending seventy-five minute monologue by Kim Kilpatrick, my paintings, direction by Bronwyn Steinberg, video special effects by Trudy Wohlleben, original music composed by Angela Schleihauf (currently GCTC’s intern sound designer and recipient of The Shannon Reynolds Internship), lighting design by Seth Gerry of GCTC, built in audio description, ASL interpreters at some performances and Braille and large print programs makes our original production an appealing draw for festivals and theatres everywhere.
First stop - MONTREAL. On 4 November, 2018 Kim Kilpatrick and guide dog Tulia performed RS/LWT at the Segal Centre, Montreal to benefit Braille Literacy Canada. Director Bronwyn Steinberg and Stage Manager Jane Osborn travelled with Kim and Tulia for this matinee performance before an enthralled audience made up of humans and guide dogs in equal measure.
Next stop - TORONTO, 11-20 January, 2019. RS/LWT has been invited to participate in Next Stage Toronto Fringe Festival. At the Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst Street, Kim and guide dog Tulia will perform nine shows with Jane Osborn as Stage Manager. Bronwyn will be there for several performances and I’ll be there selling our books.
Encore, Encore - RS/LWT returns to OTTAWA, 6-16 February, 2019 for Undercurrents Ottawa Fringe Festival at Arts Court for four performances. Some of my original paintings will be displayed and our books will be available. If you missed the show last summer here’s your chance to catch it before it heads off again…
Director Bronwyn Steinberg is actively promoting our show Raising Stanley/Life With Tulia even further afield so watch raisingstanley.com for upcoming venues and dates!
A painter of people (and guide dogs), Karen Bailey gives voice to behind-the scenes workers and the under-recognized with her emphasis on service and community. She traveled to Afghanistan in 2007 as a war artist to document Canadian military medical personnel. Her official portrait of the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General of Canada, was unveiled in 2012.