'WHAT'S COOKING' is a blog series wherein the team behind Kitchen Party Theatre Festival gives you a closer peek at some of our secret ingredients, so to speak. What exactly does a recipe for artistic process call for? Who inspires our company members? What have they learned in the industry so far? What do they find interesting about the various characters they play? Today we have a Friday Feature on 'Girls From Away' character Eleanora Barushka, by company actor, Amelia Woolfrey.
As an actor, one of my favourite parts of the process is bringing a character to life. Finding the complexities that make them human and unique can be like a scavenger hunt or a jigsaw puzzle, piecing together clues in the script and the vision of the director, and filling it in using my own ideas to create a rich inner life for the character. And oftentimes the characters we embody can teach us things about ourselves or the world around us.
From the first time I encountered the character Eleanora Barushka in my KTPF callback her strength and perseverance fascinated me and I wanted to discover more of her story. In Girls from Away, written by Bernardine Stapleton and Nicole Smith, Eleanora is one of the women Bridey meets when she moves from Newfoundland to Hespeler to help the war effort as a Girl from Away. Eleanora has come to Ontario from her home of Prague to escape the horrors of the Second World War. A former academic and professor, she now works at a textile mill in Dominion Woollens and Worsteds. In the face of hardship and adversity she continues to fight for what she believes in and remains true to the person she was. She is intelligent and resilient, proactive and playful. Despite her understanding of the harsh realities around her, she also has a sense of romanticism and wants to believe that the world of potential she imagined when she was young still exists. From the first day I admired the way she dealt with the world around her. Even after losing so much, she doesn’t become apathetic or passive, instead she continues to fight for a world where she belongs.
A character that has faced hardship like Eleanora could have been understandably dour and sullen, but in rehearsal it was exciting to find her moments of joy and playfulness. This is aided by the dry sense of humour that Bernardine and Nicole have given her; though she has struggled, she is still allowed to be human and have fun. These women continue to lead normal lives- they have rivalries and crushes, they complain about their jobs and play sports in their free time- though the war is always present in the background, as is the role they play in it.
Even in times of extreme difficulty, people remain human. In our memories, suffering can overshadow small pockets of joy, but in reality our lives continue around the chaos. Time doesn’t freeze, the earth doesn’t stop turning, people don’t stop loving or laughing. Tragedy just makes these moments of normalcy more precious. What gives us hope are the moments of light we find amidst the darkness.
You can discover the full story of Eleanora and the other women at the mill in Girls From Away, a part of the Kitchen Party Theatre Festival’s 2022 season.
AMELIA WOOLFREY (she/her)
Eleanora Barushka/Stella (Girls From Away), Mainstage Performer (The Codfather)
Raised in rural Newfoundland, Amelia Woolfrey has always had a passion for storytelling and performance. As a recent graduate of the theatre and drama studies specialist program at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College, she has continued to pursue this passion on the stage as a performer, singer and playwright. Some of her credits include Paula in Fefu and her Friends (Theatre Erindale, 2022), Hippolyta in Aftermath (Beck Theatre Creation Festival, 2022), Lady Macbeth/Hamlet/Emilia in Shakespeare Then and Now (Hart House Theatre), Lady Capulet/Capulet in Romeo and Juliet (Theatre Erindale, 2021), The Hobbit (Theatre Erindale, 2020), and Lucy Wilde in Connie’s Crush and Fools Rush In (Queen Street Dinner Theatre; 2019, 2018). She has also written and directed two original plays; a one woman show titled On the Heels of Giants (2017), and Grave Spirits (2018).
'WHAT'S COOKING' is a new blog series wherein the team behind Kitchen Party Theatre Festival gives you a closer peek at some of our secret ingredients, so to speak. What exactly does a recipe for artistic process call for? Who inspires our company members? What have they learned in the industry so far? What do they find interesting about the various characters they play? Today, as we enter our second week of shows, we are excited to kick this series off with some Wednesday Wisdom from KPTF's 2022 Stage Manager, Kevin Olson.
Across the world right now, at this very moment, hundreds of theatres are opening up lobby doors. Patrons are settling into creaky seats, fanning themselves with small, double-sided single sheet programmes and excitedly counting down the minutes to show time. Soon enough, the house lights will dim and flicker out. In that brief darkness, there is potential for theatre magic: that moment where something unexpected happens, where your heart quickens. Every performance of every show on any stage, big or small, could have someone in the audience that sees their lives reflected on the stage, or sees a potential talent that they want to unlock in themselves, or finds a community that they want to be a part of.
I was fortunate to have found my passion while still in high school, through my drama teacher Crystal, and the hundreds of passionate, dedicated and gracious people that populate the community theatre groups in and around Hamilton. In those early years, I found my community and I found my people. People who helped me develop skills that I am still honing today. Because of that, I have always gravitated towards local theatre companies and festivals that have a rich investment in the communities in which they exist. They tell stories that reflect the local history and people of the town. Many of these places have youth theatre programs, or help raise funds for local causes, or provide a creative outlet for overlooked groups within that community.
They can provide training opportunities for young people who might be interested in pursuing some art discipline – whether that is some sort of performance, behind the scenes trade, or somewhere in the management/producing world. Sometimes, these companies are able to pay those who are being trained, re-inforcing the ideas that theatre is hard work, and that hard work deserves compensation, and that mentorship has value. These training opportunities arm people with a whole new arsenal of skills and opens them up to a new world of possibilities (should they choose to pursue it). These opportunities are vital to keep our live performance industry strong, and to ensure that your stories are being told in the coming years.
If you have tickets for the Kitchen Party Theatre Festival season, thank you for supporting local theatre, and by extension, potential theatre superstars from your community. Theatre magic can happen anywhere, but it's especially magical if it happens close to home.
KEVIN OLSON (he/him)
Festival Stage Manager (Girls From Away, The Codfather)
Kevin is beyond thrilled to be a part of the Kitchen Party Theatre Festival this year! He is a professional stage manager who has worked on many productions for over a decade. He has called many theatres home, including The Charlottetown Festival, Lighthouse FT, Port Stanley FT, Theatre Orangeville, Theatre Aquarius, Vancouver Playhouse, Carousel Players, Young Peoples Theatre, Canadian Rep Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop and Smile Theatre (where he was also production manager for several years). He has most recently toured internationally with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and with Geordie Theatre, travelling extensively to the United States and to Hong Kong. Despite taking a brief hiatus from theatre, the stage has called his name once again. He will continue to pursue ways to make the theatre process accessible, inclusive and enjoyable for everyone involved!
COMMUNITY CREATORS' CIRCLE
Announcing Kitchen Party Theatre Festival's Community Creators' Circle!
Monday nights at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts.
This drop-in event is for anyone working on a new idea for the stage or for the page. Your work can be at any stage of development. If you'd like to gather with others in a weekly facilitated discussion of prompts, activities, and exchange, this circle is for you! Put pencil to paper, and get inspired by what others are working on. No previous experience is required! This is the perfect opportunity to dive into that idea at the back of your brain, or brush up on one you've been working through for some time.
The circle gathers Monday evenings from July 18th - August 8th and will be facilitated by Nicole Smith & Bernardine Stapleton. There is no cost to participate. Recommended for ages 18+.
As we work on staging the rest of our season and limiting the potential spread of COVID-19, we ask that masks be worn and social distancing maintained throughout the entirety of this event.
We are over the moon to be here in beautiful Grand Falls-Windsor again and can't wait to spend more time with all of the local brilliance that makes this place sparkle. We hope you'll join us around the table!
If you have any questions, concerns, or accessibility requests, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.