By Joel Tansey, Black Press
The Dufflebag Theatre Company got its name because, quite simply, their goal was to create a mobile theatre group that could bring its entire show around the country in a duffle bag.
One of their first performances took place in a park in London, Ont. as artistic director and founding member Marcus Lindgren recalls.
“We thought it would be really fun to just set our duffle bag down under a tree, gather an audience, and then perform for people telling fairy tales,” he said. “So we improvised fairy tales using people from the audience and we had a lot of fun.”
That performance turned out to be a hit and 24 years later the theatre group, now based out of Toronto, continues to use a similar style in its shows across Canada.
Giving audience members a role in the production is fun for all involved, Lindgren says, including the rest of the audience.
“I think they get to experience it vicariously because they see one of themselves up on stage…they get to think, ‘Wow! That was so close. That could have been me. What would I do if I was on stage?'” he said.
And while this style generally means a ton of laughs and great theatre, getting the audience involved has produced the occasionally hiccup.
Lindgren recalls a performance of Romeo and Juliet where he had selected an audience member to play each of the iconic couple. “Just as we were getting to the love sequence…somebody in the audience called out, ‘That’s his sister!'” she said with a laugh. “They weren’t sitting together so it was just kind of random that they happened to be (siblings).”
The group takes just four performers to each of their shows. Snow White, given the need for seven dwarfs, allows the Dufflebag cast to get a lot of the audience involved and it also fits their criteria of being a familiar and well-loved story that audience members of all ages will know well.
While there are plenty of laughs for younger children, Dufflebag Theatre makes a conscience effort to make sure that adults enjoy every performance as well.
“Part of what we do is we remind the adults what it’s like to be a kid again,” Lindgren said.
“The kids laugh because somebody falls down or somebody says something, but the adults get it on a different level,” he said.
Dufflebag Theatre Company will be performing Snow White at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, Apr. 24, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids, available at the visitor centre, Art First and the Revelstoke Arts Council website.