Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Axis Theatre and Verdi on tap

BY KIRSTEN BOLTON

For ArtSpring

Vancouver-based Axis Theatre and its imaginative productions for children have become an island favourite with many appearances in ArtSpring’s programs over the years. On March 13, it returns with the curiously titled Frog Belly Rat Bone, a performance especially for pre-school through elementary-school-aged students.

Incorporating beautifully handcrafted puppets and an original pop-rock musical score, the setting of Cementland comes to life as two enigmatic garbage collectors tell the story of a very special boy whose singular wish is to find a treasure.

As the plot unfolds, the boy discovers a rusty tin box packed with colourful envelopes and an old wrinkled note: “put my wondrous riches into the earth and enjoy.”

The boy opens the envelope and tosses the contents — hundreds of tiny grey specks. As night approaches, the specks must be protected from junkyard thieves so the boy invents a guard by gathering wet smelly socks, moldy old pillow stuffing and scraggly wire to bring his creation Frog Belly Rat Bone to life.

With an energetic running time of 40 minutes and a post-show talkback with the performers, the production is designed to keep young minds and attention spans engaged.

“With this kind of programming, ArtSpring seeks to be a place and a resource that promotes the arts within the curriculum, provides opportunities for teachers and parents to introduce students to ideas, and gives children the chance to experience a performance in a theatre setting — sometimes for the first time,” explains Howard Jang, ArtSpring’s executive and artistic director. “It’s quite wonderful to have a theatre full of young children cheering or participating back and forth with the actors as they get drawn into the story.”

On March 9, the Saturday a few days prior, ArtSpring’s second last Met Opera Live in HD broadcast pushes the artistic pendulum out the other way with Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, starting an hour earlier than usual due to its epic scale and two intermissions.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Verdi’s grand tale of ill-fated love, deadly vendetta and family strife, with soprano Lise Davidsen in her role debut as the noble Leonora, one of the repertory’s most tormented and thrilling heroines. Director Mariusz Trelinski delivers the company’s first new Forza in nearly 30 years, re-setting the scene in a contemporary world and making extensive use of the Met’s turntable to represent the unstoppable advance of destiny that drives the opera’s chain of calamitous events.

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