As I write this, the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts is buzzing with activity. We’re getting ready for our first full season since 2019 at Two Planks and a Passion Theatre, and the Ross Creek Centre is preparing for what looks like one of its busiest seasons yet of arts camps for all ages. Artists and staff are arriving from all over the world, the Canada geese are laying eggs, old friendships are picking back up and new ones are getting off on the right foot. Promise is in the air.
We are, of course, perhaps more grateful than we have been in the past—in the “before times.” Many of the lessons of the last two years of living through a pandemic have revolved around the idea that nothing is a given. Things that happen every year haven’t since early 2020. Although Two Planks successfully mounted a delayed season in 2020, it was far from “normal” in so many ways.
At the same time, we have been able to take the opportunity to re-prioritize the way we create theatre at Ross Creek, our time away from our outdoor stages spent thinking about how we can improve the experiences of individual artists and imagining the stories we might tell given the world we live in now.
This season is a direct result of the re-visioning of our work. Some of the changes might not be visible to an audience member but have a great impact on the people who make the theatre a reality at Ross Creek. Others, including the selection of plays to present at Ross Creek, are much clearer statements about how we are seeing the world and what we hope for the future.
Both plays, Unity (1918) by Kevin Kerr and The Stranger by yours truly, share some fundamental things in common. Both are stories of small Canadian villages more than a hundred years ago. Both communities face unexpected challenges that upend the lives of nearly every person who lives there. Both ask powerful questions about the value and purpose of a community.
And, it should be said, both are often hilariously funny. Because reflecting on what we have been through, no matter what lens you use to examine it, requires that we reflect real human experiences—the hopes as well as the fears, and the joy of making it through the challenge.
As the theatre creators who make up our company gather on the first day of rehearsals, we’ll take a moment, as we always do, to reflect on the special privilege we share—reflecting our community back to itself through live performance. After being separated from each other for most of the last two years, it has never felt so deeply important to be a theatre maker as it does now.
Come up and visit us at Ross Creek this summer. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.