Review by Danny Gaisin
Part of UTM’s Theatre Arts Faculty’s curriculum is for the undergraduates to produce all the aspects of a theatre’s creative experience. Thus, they will as experienced thespians, appreciate what the writers, composers, and producers must accomplish. “THE PLACES WE ARE” tells; in vignette format what ‘HOME‘ and ‘LOVE‘ mean. Incorporating monologues; music; songs and dance – the themes of hope and optimism are all portrayed. Inclusion of the First Nations tribal names from each of the student’s own Provinces, towns and neighborhoods remind the audience of our real Canadian historical experience.
The nineteen member cast have opted to employ their own backgrounds and diverse locales as an introduction.
To this observer, this was a more effective message than anything ‘Not Quite Ready‘ has come up with, in his reconciliation attempts.
The play presents the effects of leaving…physically, emotionally, psychologically and tenuously. We visualize parental attachments (and dis-attachment), then dormitory residence, shack-ups to off-campus co-ops; all the associated travails are displayed – warts included. Even parental-role evolution is mimicked.
Although the ninety-minute running time has no interval, there is a overt change, almost like an Act II. These following sketches present recollections and more esoteric memories of the cast’s collective personal life. Integrating actual foods and recipes; traditions and cultural backgrounds, these ecumenical illustrations were viscerally touching and evocative. Surprisingly, the play seems to end with an emotional illustration that ends with the ubiquitous ‘Amen’ and its many derivatives. Then, still another emotional apogee before the actual finale! If the concept for this aspect of the curriculum is creativity – this effort certainly achieves its goal.
The director of ‘Places’ is Rob Kempson and his playbill commentary self-describes his effort as that of ‘facilitator’ rather than leading. By encouraging the ingenious juices of his charges, one knows that they will have a greater respect and admiration for those whose works they will in future portray on stage. Unfortunately, ‘The Places We Are’ is only at the campus’s Deerfield Hall until February 9th. Next week, (Feb. 11th) we return to Theatre Erindale for “The Hobbit”. Disclaimer, This scribe’s knowledge of same was a definition of those folks who collected bunnies instead of coins or stamps. Through the kindness of 4th year undergrads, Maggie & Jenette, we were given a précis of what the Kim Selody stories are actually about.
In spite of our ARTS REVIEW protocols about never publishing a column without an accompanying photograph or post-curtain opportunity; and given that the above is the creative effort of students; we’ll make an exception in this single case. Additionally, the evening allowed the muse and I the serendipitous chance to re-connect with Patrick Young the school’s artistic director ’emeritus’. It certainly put us in a forgiving mood!