I remember when a week's vacation felt like a season long event. Returning to school as a child after a mere 7 days away felt like so much change had occurred in between, and some of my favorite memories are from those times. Whether it was building a fort at my grandmother's, attending a puppet show, or exploring a new museum- school vacation was an exciting time. When Rachel, GCA's Event's Coordinator, and I sat down with Hilary of The Fourth Wall for the first time, I was immediately engaged by her pure excitement and passion about the work she and her ensemble create. She came to us to propose a three-day stretch of shows that would feature them and two other unique performance groups. Each group would bring something incredible and refreshing to our stage as we embarked on one of our first big Children's Programming adventures. Hilary recently took some time to chat with us and give us a bit more insight on what to expect this week for Vacation Variety- featuring The Fourth Wall, Theatre Mobile, and Modern Times Theater.
Hi Hilary and Fourth Wall! We are so thrilled for your upcoming programming, can you start by telling us a bit about the concept behind Vacation Variety?
Over the years, we've noticed that school vacation weeks can be tricky for families. Kids are off from school, but parents still have to work. So, what now? Vacation Variety Series at Gateway City Arts is a series of three family-friendly variety shows designed to entertain, sneakily educate, and bring families into the vaudeville and variety worlds. Each company is well versed in family friendly programming and brings audiences a high quality show that will leave you forgetting just how much snow is on the ground!
How did The Fourth Wall, Theatre Mobile, and Modern Times Theater come together?
We met Theatre Mobile through the fringe theatre circuit in Canada and North America where they do shows entitle Evacuated!, Ain't True and Uncle False, and 13 Dead Dreams of Eugene which are all more geared towards adults. Modern Times Theater co-hosts Vermont Vaudeville in Hardwick, VT where we performed a few years back!
Can you give us a run down about what a Fourth Wall show entails. We know that there is music AND various forms of unexpected physical activities involved.
We combine music, theatre, and dance in our shows. The pieces range from stupid human tricks to classical favorites reimagined to music by living composers. Audiences can expect to laugh, participate, and wonder just how we did that thing... I frequently tell folks that I spend more time upside down playing my flute than sitting in a chair behind a music stand! I don't want to give too much away though...
What was learning to unicycle/balance on various things like while simultaneously performing with your musical instrument? Did one skill come before the other, or did this come together because you already did both aspects separately?
Well, we can't unicycle quite yet! It's on the to-do list, though! The music almost always comes first, but a healthy lack of fear combined with an adventurous attitude and trust of our colleagues helps us try new lifts and props! When we're first learning something, we don't sound very good, but that's why we practice and rehearse a lot until it all sounds good!
What makes this programming different from other options?
Speaking for ourselves, we're the only trio presenting fully hybridized performances that we know of! Theatre Mobile comes to us from Cincinnati so Western Mass audiences haven't met them yet. Modern Times brings us puppeteering on a whole new level.
What made you all decide to work with and create for young people?
We are very passionate about creating family friendly shows that don't talk down to kids. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for and we want to present shows that exhibit this!
How are each of these shows different from each other? Are there any central themes?
How each company interacts with the audience is quite different. We use all three of the performing arts, though primarily we use music and movement. Modern Times Theater uses puppeteering and Theatre Mobile story and song.
What is the premise of Fruit Flies Like a Banana?
Time flies like an arrow... Fruit Flies Like a Banana! We will attempt to perform many short pieces in 45 minutes, but YOU the audience choose the show order by picking cards from a deck! If you don't know what will happen next that's ok - we don't know either. Perhaps it's a stupid human trick or perhaps something by Bach or something by a living composer living in Massachusetts!
Where else can people catch a Fourth Wall performance?
Keep an eye on our website for our next show in Massachusetts!
Vacation Variety is presented in partnership with The Children's Museum of Holyoke. To learn more about the event click here. For tickets click here.