The video must go on – Tintamarre prepares a virtual school tour
SACKVILLE, NB — For the second consecutive year Tintamarre, Mount Allison University’s bilingual theatre troupe, has filmed their new dramatic comedy for distribution to schools.
Seven actors, all Mount Allison students, were filmed performing MASCARADE, which highlights patterns of social withdrawal, on stage in the University’s Motyer-Fancy Theatre.
An eighth actor-student, not on stage due to covid exposure, was not left out: acting in quarantine, he appears on a screen carried aloft by the stage manager sporting a colourful mask.
MASCARADE is a play within a play. Billie and her motley crew of actors have moved into a building that was abandoned during the pandemic and is said to be haunted. They rehearse scenes from her new play that shines a comic light on three anti-social characters who don masks that highlight their isolation.
There are numerous distractions, notably pandemic anxiety and the lack of a conclusion. But there is no need for alarm as Tintamarre plays end happily despite their serious themes.
Chaos lurks at the edge of the stage – for real. This strange presence reveals themselves first to Blessing, Billie’s daughter who comes at night to bring sandwiches to the exhausted director who has taken to sleeping in the building.
Blessing has her own withdrawal issues, but she is drawn to Chaos who, after some comic plot twists, inspires an insight that, for Billie, becomes an inspiration: we have emerged from chaos which is never far away, and our complexity is a gift.
In a theatrical ending inspired by Chaos, Blessing is festooned with masks, an image that calls into question the stereotypical characters imagined by Billie.
Explaining how Benjamin Hébert, the quarantined actor, has been integrated with the onstage performance, Alex Fancy, Tintamarre’s founder-director, says, “Crises inspire drama, and problem solving is at the heart of theatre practice.”
Hébert, a third-year honours philosophy student from Saint John, NB who is also minoring in history, wrote this de-briefing statement: “I learned that chaos is never far from sight and that it is wise to make the best of it; to embrace it; to drive into the skid, so to speak, rather than to attempt to fight it. All the positive things I have to say can be traced back to one feature: the people. The collaborative atmosphere, the ingenuity and creativity of the cast and crew, and the simple joie de vivre we all felt by participating made the project memorable for me.”
Other actor comments highlighted the joy of teamwork, and the fact that, at Mount Allison, students do not have to be drama majors to work in a state-of-the-art theatre.
Chaos is played by Rafael Rezende Freire who emigrated from Brazil to Canada with his family when he was in junior high. This first-year computer science major who is minoring in astronomy and physics wrote, “The recording process was a great opportunity for me to work on trust. It helped me understand that if everyone trusts that we can all do the jobs we've been assigned, everything will go just fine.”
This year’s associate directors were Hébert and Evelyn MacKay-Barr, the only graduating student (honours biochemistry, minors in biology and chemistry). Fancy says, “We will miss the brilliant contributions Evelyn has made to Tintamarre these past four years.
Julia Kim designed the set and costumes. The light designer is Paul A. Del Motte. Sound was designed by Samantha Terrio, and Hannah Lucas created props. Drama major Faith Higgins was videographer. Another Drama major, Ashlyn Skater, was stage manager.
Alex Fancy says that “The video and virtual tour would not be possible without the generosity and support of Mount Allison alumni, and other friends of Tintamarre.”
The video and a set of learning cues will be distributed to schools across the Maritimes later this spring.