Review: Encounters at the “Edge of the Woods”

Picture of the ensemble in Encounters at the "Edge of the Woods" by Scott Gorman

Storyweaving creates a unique and engaging piece of immersive theatre.

Hart House Theatre kicks off its 100th season with Encounters at the “Edge of the Woods”, a devised performance curated and directed by Jill Carter.

Encounters at the “Edge of the Woods” features stories and spoken word pieces written by the cast, brought together by Carter through storyweaving. More information on Carter’s use of storyweaving can be found in this interview.

In addition to the devised performance, Jenny Blackbird created an art installation in Hart House’s lobby and main entrance. The installation both sets the tone for the show and provides it with extra context and a much needed historical reminder for the audience (particularly us non-Indigenous ones).

I really enjoyed this show and believe that it’s an important one to watch. I believe that for change to occur, you need to get uncomfortable. This piece kept me engaged with its storytelling and provided me with a unique opportunity for me to sit in my discomfort for a couple of hours. I would invite my fellow settler theatre-goers to experience this as well.

This show is very ambitious, blending together storytelling and performance; video installation; soundscapes; and Blackbird’s installation. In my view, the company more than succeeded in bringing all these elements together. I felt immersed in this production, and I believe that its multi-media approach played a major role in that.

Encounters primarily revolves around the theme of Indigenous land, i.e. what we call “Canada”. In particular, the play explores the land’s agency and sacredness, colonial resource extraction of it, and fraudulent “purchases” of it. The audience members are called to examine how we arrived in Tkaron:to, at whose expense, and what our relationship is to the land and its rightful caretakers. In Carter’s directors notes she specifically invites us “…to shoulder [our] share of the responsibility”.

This show reiterates the power of storytelling in a few ways. The devised pieces are an important lesson that colonial violence is ongoing, and all settlers have a role in it. This show also asks us to question the stories we have been told about the land we live on – many of us settlers have grown up with an idealized version of Canada, seeing it as a multicultural haven of equal opportunity. Many of us have also been told narratives about Indigenous people, which are usually misinformed to say the least. Finally, many of the devised pieces are a reminder of the necessity for stories to continue to be passed down, and for the storyteller to share them in their own way. One of the best parts of this piece was how each story was told based upon the strengths of the person delivering it.

This production featured a tight-knit ensemble cast. There were a few cast members who personally stood out for me, namely, Candy Blair; Max Fearon; Sarah Michaels; and Trina Moyan. I also felt the sound design (by Susan Aaron, Uri Livne-Bar, and Shirka Urechko) drew me in to each scene, and gave the stories extra dimension.

The two performances on September 7th mark the end of this show’s run and I would encourage you to make the time to see it.

 

Details 

    • Encounters at the “Edge of the Woods” is playing until September 7, 2019 at Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle)
    • Showtimes are 2:00pm and 8:00pm
    • Ticket prices are $15 for students, $20 for seniors, and $28 for adults
    • Tickets are available online, by phone at 416.978.2452, or in person at the Hart House HUB main information desk

Photo of the company by Scott Gorman

2 thoughts on “Review: Encounters at the “Edge of the Woods””

  1. Hi,

    Thank you so much for attending, and for your thoughtful review! I especially appreciate the shout-out, but I noticed a minor typo in my name — “Maz”. Is it possible to correct this?

    Thanks again,
    -Max Fearon

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