It’s fall in the Yukon which means Ramshackle Theatre is gearing up for its annual Theatre in the Bush, held on artistic director Brian Fidler’s family property.
“I just love this time of year and I’m already out in the yard,” Fidler says. “I’ve got my chainsaw out and I’m clearing the paths.”
Last year, the 10th anniversary of Theatre in the Bush was adapted to adjust to a new pandemic reality. In 2021, COVID-19 persists, but Fidler has learned how to take advantage of the situation and put on a wonder-filled outdoor show.
Theatre in the Bush will run for two nights on Friday September 24 and Saturday September 25 to allow for smaller audience numbers. Tickets for the live shows were distributed through a lottery system. It’s too late to get in on the lottery; however, Brendan Preston is back on board to film Theatre in the Bush for an online rebroadcast on Sunday, September 26 with support from the Yukon Arts Centre.
“I do love that anyone who wants to see the show, gets a chance to see the show,” says Fidler.
Every year in late August, Fidler puts a call out on Artsnet, Facebook and Instagram. He asks potential artists to submit “the seed of their idea” for a Theatre in the Bush performance. Fidler is never quite sure how the seed will develop and morph, and there are always surprises.
While some years Fidler has to do some selection from all the submissions, this year everyone who submitted an idea is in the show.
“I just took everyone because there was just the right amount,” Fidler explains. “I didn’t have to say no to anyone. That felt really good.”
Here’s the lineup for Theatre in the Bush 2021:
- Annie Hakim is a puppet maker who Fidler describes as a “super fun” performer. Hakim likes to work on a large scale and will incorporate puppets, wigs, “maybe some karaoke” and “possibly a drum kit” into their performance.
- Malorie Gendreau, Loréne Charmetent and Lonnie Powell are creating a piece that will include choral singing with an element of circus performance. Fidler is “totally intrigued” and excited to have Powell’s “good energy to be a part of things.”
- Well-known comedian George Maratos is presenting a piece called Connect which explores the different ways we’ve connected through the pandemic, with an emphasis on how much we’ve missed direct connection. Maratos is using improv and giving audience members “connecting tasks” that will include conversation.
- Burlesque performer Chèrie Coquette is presenting a piece about lightness and darkness. Fidler says that he’s “always really blown away” by Coquette and that “she’s in a class of her own as a performer. She’s cheeky and really engages with the audience.”
- Annie Maheux is known for incorporating food into performances that use rich imagery. Maheux will be presenting “Eat Art in Paradise” to explore how we all experience food differently. Audience members will be invited to participate in Maheux’s piece.
- Meriya Gmeiner McPherson is creating a piece featuring aliens, improv and outer space.
- Chef and performer Jeszika Mae is “hosting a cooking lesson with a burlesque twist,” Fidler says. “They will be riffing on a campfire classic.”
Along with the performances, Theatre in the Bush always includes works by Installation artists to add to the magic in the forest. This year the audiences will see:
- An installation called A Walkway of Poems by Meredith Pritchard.
- A paper-based installation by perennial favourite Tara Kolla whose work Fidler describes as “just magical.” He invites Kolla back every year. “She’s one of the looks of Theatre in the Bush,” he explains.
- Emily Woodruffe will be putting out her clay works and is also “madly researching these days for other ideas,” Fidler says of his partner’s piece.
- Jon Gelina will be presenting a video and sound installation.
- Amber Church will be installing a piece called Hide and Seek with Monsters.
- Blake Lepine also will be creating an installation.
Musician Kevin Barr will be performing at the beginning to welcome folks to Theatre in the Bush.
While some artists are familiar faces, for others it’s their first appearance at Theatre in the Bush. New performers also bring new audiences. This keeps Theatre in the Bush exciting and interesting for Fidler. He seems to thrive on the element of surprise.
“It’s awesome,” Fidler says. “I love the randomness. I just put the word out to the universe and people show up. It’s pretty great.”
The link to the rebroadcast can be accessed at yukontickets.com. The recommended donation is $25.