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On Sunday July 10th, 2017, the participants from Imagining Possibilities traded their performer’s hats for patron seats as they 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: the way they eat, hunt, tend to one another, and establish leadership within the pack. When a wolf meets a human being for the very first time, their lives are changed. The show’s themes and the beauty in dance left the Imagining Possibilities team in high spirits.
Attended by Christine, Gabriel, Joe, Irene and Laura, the gang entered the theatre to soothing acoustic guitar and soft singing filling the room. When asked if she thought the sound was calming, Laura agreed, and smiled in delight. 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, 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. Met with shock across our own creative group, the wolf pack goes to find the bear to retaliate. 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. Although Laura and Irene originally thought the baby moose was actually a cat, she was still one of their characters, 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 for Gabriel. Played by Marvin Vergara, we watched the once-alpha male battle with the mother moose, and become injured across his leg. His pack rejects him for his disability. As the dance nears the end, the Sacred Trout emerges, played by Daley. Irene expressed that this fish was also one of her favourite characters. She tenderly heals Strong Jaw, and he rejoins the pack.
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, met with surprise and chortles from the Imagining Possibilities performers. 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, they really looked 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 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.
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 this Fringe performance is excerpted from a longer piece, where we the stories of other animals and of humans is expanded upon.
Certainly inspiring thematically to the Imagining Possibilities team, 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 of our own.