Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre is looking outside the box to bring live theatre to the community this season.
After canceling all live productions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FAST has announced a new plan for bringing live theatre back to the community in 2021. The plan was announced via video by the company’s artistic director Andrea Boyd on Thursday afternoon.
“This summer, I want to make sure that we have the greatest chance possible of bringing live theatre back to our community,” said Boyd via a press release, “and that means leaving the safety of our precious stage, and venturing out into the great outdoors.”
Festival Antigonish is partnering with Keppoch Mountain to present an outdoor theatrical adventure – Robin Hood: The Great Escape. This original adaptation of the classic tale will take the audience on an epic journey around a wide accessible trail surrounded by trees and the sounds of summer. Medieval characters will guide audience groups from one scene to the next, where they will eavesdrop on the heroes and villains that tell the tale of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s vile plan to be rid of Robin Hood once and for all.
Robin Hood, Marian, the Sherriff of Nottingham, Gal of Gisbourne, King Richard, the Merry Men, (and women!), bandits, archers, and spies – this large cast, promenade-style play will have it all. The audience will gather as a group for the opening scene, and then be led along the path in small groups to watch the story unfold, before gathering again at the end for a finale. All public health guidelines will be followed to ensure a safe environment for the artists and the audience.
Written by Andrea Boyd and Laura Teasdale, the play will feature Nova Scotian actors, designers, and creative professionals. To make this bold adventure even more meaningful, the company is partnering with Theatre Antigonish, a longstanding community theatre organization, to create opportunities for the community to join the production as volunteer actors playing small parts such as bandits, guards, spies, and medieval ushers or in backstage production roles.
The global pandemic has seen theatres everywhere exploring creative new ways to stay connected with their audiences. For Festival Antigonish, this model will mark a radical departure from its 34-year-old traditional model of repertory theatre on stage. “It will push our company (creatively and organizationally) in a way that we have never been challenged before.”
“We are excited about the possibilities, and cannot wait for audiences – new and returning – to embark on this journey with us,” says Reema Fuller, managing director.
Robin Hood: The Great Escape will take place at Keppoch Mountain in August. Organizers are planning a two-week run for performances, with some extra room for rain dates. Visit www.festivalantigonish.com.