Young Company hard at work on 'HC Kid' - July 26, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After the group’s first full week together, the Young Company is already making serious progress towards staging its show, HC Kid, this August.
Under the direction of Blyth Festival mainstay Curtis te Brinke, who most notably portrayed Steven Truscott in 2008’s Innocence Lost, the group is hoping to craft a ghost story that is part fact and part fiction and explains what it’s like to be a teenager in Huron County in 2018.
There are three participants this year: West Larabee of Lucknow, Annika Balzer of Auburn and Emma Marcy of Seaforth, in addition to stage manager Marina Glanville who will be assisting te Brinke with the production, which is on stage at the Phillips Studio three times from Aug. 16-18.
The premise of the play is that a ghost is haunting the Blyth Festival Young Company and this ghost is a spectre that only the area’s teenagers can see.
The Young Company members choose to interact with the ghost and through that narrative, the members are hoping to tell bits and pieces of their own stories about growing up in Huron County. Not only will there be autobiographical material, but, as Larabee said, he hopes that the members can use their time on stage to air some of their grievances.
Te Brinke says he hopes to “rattle some cages” with the show and challenge some of the established narratives of life in Huron County.
Some of the ideas they want to explore, Larabee said, is the Huron County community belief that everyone knowing one another, mob mentalities, the “hive mind” and various generational themes.
The group will be conducting various interviews with community members in the coming weeks, adopting the tested and true collective creation method to which Festival audiences are not strangers.
Speaking to members of the community, te Brinke said, the group hopes to unearth the differences between being a teenager decades ago and growing up in Huron County now. They also hope to explore inter-generational relationships in Huron County between their generation and the generations that have come before them.
All three members of this year’s Young Company have worked in the dramatic arts before at their respective high schools. Larabee is a student at F.E. Madill School in Wingham, while both Balzer and Marcy go to St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School in Clinton. They have all, thus far, enjoyed the creativity and freedom that being part of the Young Company has afforded them.
Balzer said she appreciated being able to create something that takes her own experiences and stories into account. Marcy agreed, saying that she has enjoyed collaborating with her fellow artists through the project.
Marcy was the Young Company’s lone participant last year as te Brinke worked with her to create the one-woman show, From Sallows to Selfies, which explored 100 years of photographic history and how the medium was used to document life.
While she found the one-on-one relationship with te Brinke to be satisfying artistically, having several more voices around the table has been refreshing, she said. Multiplying the amount of life experience and stories to tell should enrich the experience, she said.
All members agree that, through the show, they’re hoping to convey to audiences what it’s like to be a teenager in Huron County if they don’t already know.
Larabee said he hopes that audience members will come away from the show with a new perspective and an understanding of what life’s like for those in their teenage years right now.
Starting that conversation with people of different generations, Marcy said, is a crucial aspect of what the Young Company is attempting to do with this year’s show.
Te Brinke agreed, saying that he views the show as a great opportunity for a discussion and some discourse within the accepted Huron County narrative. He said that Huron County residents rightly celebrate their heritage, but can sometimes be selective with the stories they choose to tell, ignoring other aspects of life in Huron County, like colonialism and oppression.
“I want to rip open a new part of Huron County life that a lot of people haven’t taken a look at yet,” te Brinke said.
The group spent its first week with a lot of “table work” and writing and began its interviews at the end of the week with more scheduled for the coming weeks.
Larabee said they hope to expand and incorporate a lot of improvisation in the coming weeks, while also incorporating their interviews, using quotes from community members verbatim.
Te Brinke said that the show will be part fact and part fiction, but he’s not yet sure which part will be which and furthermore he feels the lines will be quite blurred.
HC Kid is on stage at the Phillips Studio at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16-18. For more information, visit the Blyth Festival website at blythfestival.com.