After returning from our three week journey, we were all happy to return home-at least for a little bit before venturing off to the next leg of our journey.
We took off for a few days up in the northern parts of Quebec. One thing you should know is that we have become very adept at jumping out of the van over our Whispers in the Air ladder that blocks the back door. On a pit stop in Pembroke, David accidentally missed the ladder, while watching his IPhone drop to the ground. And Crack! Boom! Poor David. You know you have become too obsessed with technology when a broken but still usable Iphone makes you sad. Luckily, he was reading Brave New World at the same time, and realized how he needed a break from Facebooking and CNN news articles. Good for you David!
As we continued on the way to Temiscaming we took a short cut as the sun was beginning to set. However, no one told us that the shorter route was a bunch of sharp turns in a creepy “Sleepy Hollow” like setting. While David took over the driving, Mariana and Ian were in the back trying to get some sleep but being rudely awakened by flying to the left and right of the back seat in the van. Once we settled in the town, we headed straight for a bite and some shut eye.
The next morning we performed two shows and were interviewed for the school for their class. We couldn’t stay too long as we had to be in Val D’or by night time and opted for a smoother highway road. But before heading off, we had to eat at the coolest Subway restaurant ever. Converted from an old train car, there wasn’t much space to eat, but we got a great view of the river and it felt like we were traveling across the country in style.
Val D’or was the next stop and we knew we were staying at the right place, as the sign outside had an exact replica of Mr. Powell (one of the puppets from the show). The shows were good and we got a lot of intelligent questions about the students. We packed up and returned to Montreal looking forward to a day off – so David could get his phone fixed.
The second half of the week was a little different for us. On Thursday and Friday we attended QPAT. Teachers from across Quebec converged at the Palais des Congress for two days to learn about all sorts of new teachings methods and guides for their schools. Geordie was on hand to promote the tour as well as Robin Hood, which was soon to open. It was fun and different to hang out and meet teachers that had already seen the show at their school and new ones eager to catch it. We met lots of supportive professionals who gave us great feedback. It was wonderful to hear their comments.
By the weekend we were already on the move again-this time Ottawa/Gatineau. The thing I will never forget was after performing a Whispers in the Air show and all the Q&A was over, a little boy approached Ian, asking him if he ever had trouble speaking like Alex his puppet. Ian responded honestly that while he didn’t have trouble speaking as a child, he knew that the playwright had and that was one of the reasons why he decided to write this play. Ian also explained that Alex found it very hard to talk since he had been through so much in his young life. Ian took out Alex and gave the boy a high five. The boy slapped its hand and took off. His teacher explained that he also had a hard time finding his voice and it was so meaningful to see that on stage.
On our time off, we took in the sights, Mariana went running and the three of us explored the museum of civilization – but with only an hour to spare before it closed! The differences between James, Ian and David became quite apparent. David wanted to get a glimpse of everything and rushed through the museum. Ian and James meandered about looking at every article of clothing, video display and artifacts before being forcibly asked to “Leave now, please”. Sufficed to say, David was waiting for them at the end of the tour.
As November turned into December we developed a new level of comfort and ease when performing the show. After three months we knew exactly when Alex and Nan should share a moment, when Hatter Pete should come whizzing onstage and when Jorah should enter on Melissa and Fatima. By now it had been the longest run of a show the three of us had ever done and we were beginning to develop new instincts and new moments.
December was spent exclusively in and around Montreal, which meant no traveling, but also meant we were able to sleep in our own beds every night. Performing for schools in Montreal was very different to performing for those in the country where culturally they are less diverse. We felt this especially when performing Jabber. Inner-city audiences identified well with Fatima and the trials she was going through; when she removed her hijab for example they reacted with shock and concern whereas to an audience who had less exposure to the hijab and the Muslim culture saw it as less dramatic.
The last two weeks before the Christmas break consisted of (apart from having to share the stage with Christmas decorations) one week of only Jabber performances and the next only Whispers in the Air performances. This made us appreciate how different the shows are and how much we enjoy the variety. Along with all the children watching our performances, we were looking forward to the holidays to rejuvenate and relax.