The Final Letter from the Road: The Chautauqua Tour Wrap Up
4 weeks. 8 communities. A whole new expanded family. This sums up the last month for a group of rag-tag artists in the Interlake. Little did we know how when we set out about how rewarding this experience would be. As our tour wrapped up yesterday in Teulon, we can’t help but feel full: full of love, and full of inspiration.
In previous letters from the road I’ve repeatedly mentioned the theme of family, and though that theme may seem over used here, I feel it sums up the Chautauqua tour perfectly. Whether it was a bright high-school student not wanting us to leave, or an elderly community member asking one of us to dance, or a billet introducing us as “my girl” or “my son” we felt truly at home everywhere we went. The way each community welcomed us in with open minds and open hearts, showed us that art can live anywhere.
Reflecting back on the tour as a whole, the only regret was not being able to do more. At the end of each week we felt we had just begun to crack the shell that was the artistic potential of each community and begin to find our place within it.
When we entered our last week and I could feel tour coming to an end. I had an odd mixture of feelings. As the week progressed, it felt like each day was getting shorter and shorter, and it wasn’t because of daylight savings time.
We clung to each night as we were able to- not ready for the tour to end. Our last night was spent together at the Teulon Hotel playing pool, and dancing with what the bartender called the “special lights” on. You could say we lit up the town, or at least the bar! A local asked us who we were, and never did we feel more like heroes than when we responded, “we’re artists!” and explained to them our mission in their community- make connections, learn local stories, bring theatre and art to the rural and remote locations. We were very proud.
In each community we would learn about local history, and also engage in conversations about the struggles of the present and hopes for the future. This came to life in a new way as we prepared for our final presentation in Teulon- where we hosted an afternoon of performances and activities to help the town brainstorm ideas for its Centennial Celebration next year. We shared stories we dug up from research at the museum and demonstrated ways we thought they could teach this history, while engaging the whole community in making plans and dreams for the next 100 years.
On the drive home I felt a peaceful accomplishment- we had done good.
Today as I sit at home reflecting on the weeks that have recently passed, a few names still ring in my head: Patsy, Joel, Adeline, Merle, Emily, Ray, among many others. These people are what made our time so special. So in the closing moments of the Chautauqua tour I personally want to say thank you to each and every one of those people- and all the community members who supported us.
Each week I’ve ended these letters saying “Until next time, it’s been nice Winnipeg. Talk soon.”, but now that we’re back in Winnipeg for good it feels only right that I should address our other homes. So, it’s been nice staying with you Steep Rock, Eriksdale, Arborg, and Teulon. We will see you soon.
Chris Sousa and the rest of the TPM team.
Many thanks to our community partners and hosts and our generous sponsors!
LETTER FROM THE ROAD: WEEK 4 – NOVEMBER 1ST
Our merry band of artists are enjoying their last week in the Interlake! While they are out on the road we have our Chautauqua documentarian, Chris Sousa, bringing you letters from the road!
The past week in Arborg was a trip to say the least – the word trip used in both a metaphorical and literal way. Our week centred on community workshops; a kitchen party, vinarterta and pierogi making, rug braiding, and theatre workshops. The meat of our time however, came from two historical tours. Our guide, Jóel Friðfinnsson, took us to many significant sites in New Iceland. At the beginning of the week, we (the artists) were instructed to listen, watch, and create something of artistic significance to perform for the public tour at the end of the week. This opportunity was unique as it allowed each of us to interpret the legendary stories in our own eclectic way. From spoken word poetry, story telling, performance art, to song, we had it all. But there was one piece performed that held a collective significance. Theatre Projects Manitoba’s artistic director Ardith Boxall, performed a piece that she called “The Naming”. In this piece, we were to write names of significance within our personal heritage on a card. If we felt willing, we were to say the names of those we represented, releasing them to the lake and sky. Then we placed the cards into a fire on the shoreline of Lake Winnipeg. After each person read their set of names there was a breath of silence creating an odd mixture of feelings. At first, it felt mournful, but soon transformed to a reverent celebration of heritage. This event summed up my experience in every community thus far. At the beginning of each week, we enter as outsiders, but by the end, we leave as family. This act of letting go, but not forgetting, helped as we left yet another family in Arborg and Riverton.
As we enter the final week of tour, I am torn. The experience from start to finish has been one big grand experiment, forming relationships that will stick in our memories and hearts until the day we come back to make more memories. As we begin this final week, we find our self in Teulon, the gateway to the Inter-lake. Once again, we enter as outsiders but are certain to leave this fourth and final community as family.
As always, it was nice to talk to you Winnipeg.
Until next time.
Interesting fact about Teulon: Every September Teulon celebrates pumpkin fest. Among the many attractions the famous pumpkin growing contest leads the charge!
For more info follow here:
Photo cred: www.teulonpumpkinfest.com
Don’t Miss Event!
Mary’s Wedding: Nov. 7-18 in Winnipeg
Hot off the heels of this Chautauqua (and to rave reviews from audiences!), Mary’s Wedding opens in Winnipeg on Wednesday, November 7th at 8:00 pm. Tickets still available for Opening Night – get tickets on our website or by calling 204-989-2400!
Letter from the road: Week 3 – October 25th
Each week as I write these entries I find myself looking forward to the week to come. I don’t often find myself reflecting on what was; but, today as I write this letter from the road, I can’t shake the previous week spent in Eriksdale and Lundar.
During our time in these communities there were two events that were defining moments. The first was the Lundar community dance. This dance had people of varying ages: the elders, the youth, even the school principal was there! This inter-generational connection summed up much of our touring so far- being able to collaborate with, and bring together all ages.
The dance was also a ceremony of dares. More >