21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer. Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival 2016. A review.

21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer. Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival 2016. A review.

Exquisite enchantment and home-spun wisdom couple in 21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer—currently celebrating its world premiere at the Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival (March 22-26, 2016).

In a series of short vignettes, the personages in Cathy Stubington (Runaway Moon Theatre) and James Tait’s original work come to life with alacrity.  Craftsmanship is extraordinary—on the level of haute couture with detail given to miniature undulating flounces on sweaters, glittery buttons on dresses, sparkly earrings, era-specific ponchos, teensy plastic bags.  The physiognomy of the puppets is life-like with every wrinkle traced and shadow accentuated; differences in body and hair types are highlighted.

Around a large flat wooden surface, five puppeteers—dressed in black but visible throughout–manipulate (and voice) over 20 puppets by means of rods and hands—enabling them to exhibit the finest of motor control—puppets dial cell phones, cut potato-blocks for printing, stuff groceries into bags, place posters on poles throughout the towel, garden, carry children.

21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer Belfry SPARK Festival 2016

21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer traces the small epiphanies and discoveries of an intertwined group of friends—some living in small-town Enderby and others in Vancouver.  The audience is first introduced to Sally—the artist responsible for Bird of the Week, her attempt at getting people to notice more of the natural world around them.  In a show filled with child-like wonder at the world, this is one of the ultimate messages—slow down, take each moment and pay attention, consume less, spend time with friends, connect with people.

There is a true sense of profound and often hard-won life lessons—Pete’s mom, at 96, still walks every day and bakes numerous pies she gives away to people. Her encounters with a neighbour—at first acrimonious—change radically when they find common ground over the harvest of apples. Larry—a farmer—has come to see how the world can change if people simply make an effort to get along.  Zack composes a rap-chant to remind him of the flowers as they bloom throughout the year.  Greg refuses to use technology and reclaims his innerspace.  Pete muses on what he wants the last third of his life to be. Laura gets together with a group of friends to sing—an endearing moment of four-part harmony that elicited enthusiastic applause from the audience.  Ross learns to meditate.

Throughout, floats the chickadee, one of the first birds to appear in spring with the cry of “hey sweetie”, and one who warns of danger—a metaphor for the need to return to a gentler cycle of seasons and a slower way of being.  Currently, Stubington is engaged in a unique community art project, the Enderby Calendar Wheel, to track seasonal indicators, local wildlife and visual calendar happenings.

21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer is a hope-filled, solutions-focused, jubilant celebration of ordinary people taking simple and incremental steps to effect change; it’s a gentle nudge and reminder for everyone that actions count—mightily.

From the company that brought the beloved puppet theatre adaptation of The Winter’s Tale to the Belfry in 2006, comes the premiere of a thinking person’s piece of puppet theatre, celebrating the small ways in which regular folks make a difference to the world. 21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer is practical, hopeful and a simple tribute to the beauty of humanity.


21 Ways to Make the World Last Longer
Runaway Moon Theatre, Grindrod
Created by Cathy Stubington and James Fagan Tait
Directed by James Fagan Tait
March 22 – 26, 2016
Belfry Studio, 1291 Gladstone at Fernwood
Tickets:  Adults – $27.
Discounts: Seniors-10% off; University/College Students-25% off; High School Students-50% off

Tuesday, March 22 – 7:30 pm
Wednesday, March 23 – 7:30 pm
Thursday, March 24 – 7:30 pm
Friday, March 25 – 8 pm
Saturday, March 26 – 8 pm

70 minutes, no intermission / An adult puppet play suitable for children

Puppeteers: Zompopo Flores, Thomas Conlin Jones, Sarah May Redmond, Cathy Stubington, and James Fagan Tait
Creators Cathy Stubington and James Fagan Tait
Director James Fagan Tait
Puppet Designer Cathy Stubington
Lighting Designer Simon Farrow
Stage Manager Sadie Fox

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