When Garry Pendergast watched a Monster Theatre Company performance in Calgary last April, he knew he wanted to bring them to the Revelstoke Performing Arts Center. “It was incredible,” Pendergast says of the performance. And now, Monster Theatre is coming to town on Saturday, Feb. 7, boasting two very different shows.
Tara Travis, the company’s artistic producer, actor and puppeteer, has a history of building kids shows. In 2000, award winning director/playwright Ryan Gladstone, the company’s founder and artistic director, had moved Monster Theatre from Calgary to Vancouver.
“He was a little lonely,” Travis explained. “We met at a festival. Ryan was looking to expand into theatre for young audiences and our styles just matched. It was magic from the beginning.”
Monster Theatre’s newest family friendly show, The Little Prince, will be performed in Revelstoke at 3 p.m. on Feb. 7. Written and directed by Gladstone and brought to life by actor Nancy Kenner and Travis, The Little Prince is based on the novella by French author Antoine de Saint Exupery.
Exupery spent 27 months in North America during 1940 trying to convince the United States to join the war against Nazi Germany. At this time Exupery wrote The Little Prince, a story about a boy who has only ever known his tiny home, Asteroid 325, until he decides to explore the universe. The protagonist’s struggles parallel Exupery’s own situation. Since its publication, The Little Prince has sold over 140 million copies worldwide and is France’s most read and translated story.
“Ryan and I agreed The Little Prince is one of the greatest literary works of all time,” Travis said. “The story had affected both our lives. We’ve wanted to create a performance based on it for a long time, doing it justice but also playing with it and sharing it with audiences.”
While the performance is mostly spoken in English, there is some French. “Monster Theatre is very self aware,” Travis said. “Actors are characters and have their own storyline amidst the telling of the tale.” Kenner, whose first language is French and who plays the Little Prince, uses French as a comic device, arguing the work should be performed in its original language.
It is the company’s debut tour of The Little Prince, and so far it has been well received. “It’s been a wonderful time,” Travis said, “and we evolve the work as we go. The audiences teach us a lot. Come to the show expecting a great time, come with an open mind and open heart.”
Monster Theatre’s later adult production, starting at 7:30 p.m., is the critical darling and award winning play, ‘Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII – A One Woman Play. Also written and directed by Gladstone and acted by Travis, ‘Til Death debuted in 2012 at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival to rave reviews. Travis plays all six wives: The Betrayed Wife, The Scheming Wife, The Peacemaker, The Ugly German, The Slutty One, and The One in Love With Someone Else.
Described as taking place in the afterlife’s waiting room, the wives learn they are dead and only one can enter into Royal Heaven. This results in story swapping and comparing, while the wives argue for the right to be acknowledged as Henry’s eternal wife.
“Til Death is a workout, but is so energizing,” Travis said. Written with Travis in mind, she admits that it is her favourite show in the world to perform.
Tickets for both shows are available at the Revelstoke Visitors Center, Art First! and at the Revelstoke Arts Council website.