In contrast to a world that feels mired in chaos and pessimism, Tintamarre’s latest production Refuge confronts topical issues with authenticity and hope. The group takes on a variety of local and global problems in their production, including the world migration crisis, land erosion, and struggling rural communities.
In the shrinking village of Port-a-Petit, the dysfunctional town councillors cannot seem to agree on anything despite facing land erosion and crumbling infrastructure.
Their antics are being observed by newcomer and talk of the town, A-a-Zed, a “voyageur” who escaped from the imagined country of Tenebria. Tintamarre carefully avoids using the words “refugee,” “migrant” or “immigrant” in their production and instead adopts “voyageur” to leave the conditions of A-a-Zed’s escape up to audience interpretation.
The scenes from the hectic lives of the Port-a-Petitciens are punctuated by scenes of people fleeing a distant war and the struggles they face in trying to get to Canada. The play’s structure bridges local and international conflicts, highlighting the interconnectedness of our planet, our fear of the other, and how our differences can divide us.
The production effectively examines the universal phenomenon of displacement as the Port-a-Petitciens fear losing their homes while Tenebrien voyageurs, having lost everything, search for resettlement in Canada. The play’s subject matter is particularly relevant, as Sackville welcomed two new refugee families in the past year.
For many, the process of the play’s creation has been a refuge. Director Alex Fancy described the troupe as a “genuine community…It’s a real refuge in the sense that people come to share experience, interest, talents. Drama is a very therapeutic activity.” Tintamarre prides itself on being an inclusive, non-hierarchical space where anyone is welcome. There are no auditions and no requirements except an openness of spirit and a desire to collaborate.
The play’s theme, characters and plot were first devised through theatre exercises, then condensed and made into a script by Fancy. As he explained, the collective creative process fosters a feeling of collective ownership of the production. Refuge allows us to reflect on how small our differences truly are and how we might better create more joyful, welcoming communities.
Refuge runs from Wed., Jan. 18 to Sat., Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Motyer-Fancy Theatre. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for general admission.