Toronto Team attends “The Old Wolf and Sacred Trout”

On Sunday July 10th, 2017, the participants from Imagining Possibilities traded their performer’s hats for patron seats, and attended the Fringe show, The Old Wolf and Sacred Trout. The work is a movement piece told from the perspective of a family of wolves in the forest. We glimpsed into their world to learn about their way of life and survival. For example, we learned about the way they eat, hunt, tend to one another, and establish leadership within the pack. A wolf’s life changes when it meets a human being for the very first time. The show’s themes and the beauty in dance left the Imagining Possibilities team in high spirits.

The gang, consisting of Christine, Gabriel, Joe, Irene and Laura, entered the theatre to soothing acoustic guitar and soft singing filling the room. When someone asked if she thought the sound was calming, Laura agreed and smiled in delight.

The Story of the Wolf and the Trout

When the lights dimmed and the show started, a fishy-dancer in long braids and a striped shirt swished through the row where the Imagine Possibilities team was seated and passed each of us. She swam to the front and flipped over onstage through the water, a pool of blue fabric. (Fun fact: our monster blue piece of fabric was used as the river!).

Midway through the play, a huge, hairy bear crosses the pack. Although the wolves try to protect their territory, the bear steals their meat. The wolf pack goes to find the bear to retaliate, shocking our group of performers. Instead of finding the bear, they cross and then clash with a mother moose and her cub, played by Zoe Kenneally and Serwaa Daley, respectively. Originally, Laura and Irene thought the baby moose was actually a cat. This was likely due to the little cute ears and the loving way she wrapped around her mother’s leg.

Strong Jaw, the head of the wolf pack, was also a popular character for the Imagining Possibilities crew, particularly Gabriel. The once-alpha wolf, played by Marvin Vergara, battles with the mother moose, who injures him across his leg. His pack rejects him for his disability. Daley plays the Sacred Trout who emerges as the dance comes to an end. Irene expressed that this fish was also one of her favourite characters. The Sacred Trout tenderly heals Strong Jaw, and he rejoins the pack.

Discussing the Show

On a moonlit stage, a new wolf named Always Happy joins the pack. The wolves let out a great howl to mark the new social relationship and coming together. This was one of only two verbal moments in the performance, and it made the Imagining Possibilities performers laugh in surprise. The other moment came when the fisherman spoke another language on the phone. Joe felt it may have been helpful to have a narrator explain the actions of the story. Laura agreed that sometimes it would have been helpful, but she still understood it for the most-part and enjoyed it very much. After a discussion, Joe agreed that the meaning of the story was still strong through movement.

The group had different things to say about the costumes. All wolves wore feathery masks and simple, but skin-bearing clothing. Joe laughingly wondered why the actors showed so much skin. Christine thought that instead of wearing furry costumes, the costume choice was natural and realist. Irene agreed that they really did look like wolves.

The fisherman, played by Jake Ramos, was also an interesting role, both as a threatening presence to the other animals, yet also as a comedic role. Gabriel and Irene laughed at the part in the play where the fisherman peed in the forest, aloof to the magic in the natural world around him. Gabe was less impressed with the fisherman, however, when he alerts other people to the presence of the wolves, leaving us to wonder the fate of the forest animals and their survival.

Final Thoughts

Following the show, the group had a meet and greet with playwright/director, Donald Molnar, and producer, Alicia Payne. Gabriel asked about the relationship between the head of the wolf pack and the younger male wolf. Payne explained that they were father and son. The younger wolf, Little Jaw, wanted to take advantage of his father’s vulnerability, usurp him, and become the head of the pack – even though he was still too immature. Gabriel understood that relationship and appreciated the insight into the social hierarchy of wolves. Payne told the group that her team excerpted their Fringe performance from a longer piece which expanded on the stories of other animals and of humans.

The show was inspiring thematically to the Imagining Possibilities team, and new connections with Arbez Drama were made. Furthermore, new ideas emerged, including the use of animals symbolically, or dancers acting as models in future performances.

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