As Summer Eastwood explains, Kingfisher Days, the latest of Grove Hall’s productions, exemplifies the essence of the following quote by Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
It is a storyline that struck a chord with many of those involved in the performance. The importance of having a support network, which in Susan’s case was Mr. Moir, while pursuing one’s passion is intangible. Tina Bye explains how the play epitomizes the notion that “one adult can … give someone the strength in humanity to continue or to dash their hopes [entirely], especially with something fragile like self-expression; it’s really difficult to be authentic when you’re worried about being judged.” The relationship between Susan and Mr. Moir is analogous to the relationship Grove Hall has established with members of the community: they cultivate a safe space for people to express themselves and thrive artistically.
The theme of mentorship is prominent, both in the play as well as the dynamic behind the scenes. Without a moment’s hesitation, Mark Bye says the play elicits memories from his youth about his former drama teacher, Bob Walker at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR), who was the reason Mark pursued a career in theatre. As creative members at CVR, the Byes helped ignited a passion for theatre among students and expose them to their true potential.
Former students, who had been inspired by Mark and Tina over the years, are among those both on stage and behind the scenes of Kingfisher Days. For Summer Eastwood, her passion was acting. But for costume designer, Chelsea Daniel, and stage manager, Alyssa Chamberlain, their passions remained behind the scenes. Both Daniel and Chamberlain pursued post-secondary education in the Theatre Production program at John Abbott College, while Eastwood went on to study professional acting at Dawson College. Tina Bye said, “One of the things you hope [for] as a teacher is that you’ve created a lifelong passion to create that interest in young people to explore their own creativity.” Well, the involvement of an abundance of her former students in the productions at Grove Hall speaks volumes in having achieved that goal. Rather than have one outside director, the show was created through a co-collaborative lens. Both Mark and Tina were extremely impressed with the insight and contributions from former students while working with them now as colleagues, rather than as mentors.
It was an ambitious undertaking, especially so soon after Moon Over Buffalo. In fact, the debut took place just a little under seven weeks since the script was first read. Now, that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if they were professional actors working on Broadway and able to meet daily for rehearsals. Instead, they memorized their lines and rehearsed as well as created costumes and sets on top of their regular work weeks. As the cast gathered to dismantle the set from the Radio Broadway show and assemble the set for Kingfisher Days, they realized just how ambitious a task it was that they undertook. However, it was a priority to build a set entirely different from the show last weekend because “otherwise the audience starts to feel like they’ve seen it all before,” Mark summed up. As the show approached, the dilemma arose about who could do hair and make-up. Another former student of Tina’s, Morgan Faille, was happy to hop on board and decided on the hair and make-up design for the fairy princess, Nootsie Tah. Faille studied Artistic Makeup, Fashion and Beauty at Collège Inter-Dec in Montreal and was grateful for the opportunity to have her work shown in her own community since most of her work up until this point has been in the city.
The common ground for everyone at Grove Hall is that they are all passionate about what they do! The benefits of being a part of Grove Hall are multifaceted: Summer Eastwood said, “[That] you’re not only getting something from the community, but you’re giving something to the community.” Howard Welburn echoed that sentiment by saying the reason he keeps coming back to do shows is not only because he is passionate about performing, but because “I like to do my part to try and help advance this gold mine that we have here with Grove Hall.”
One thing is certain: there is an abundance of people in the Valley who have maintained the artist in themselves as adults and Grove Hall has optimized the opportunity for the community to gather and take pride in the rich array of artistic talents of people in the area.
Performances of Kingfisher Days:
Friday, April 15 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 17 at 2:00pm
Friday, April 22 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, April 23 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 24 at 2:00 pm