By Laura Stovel
Anita Hallewas, artistic director and founder of local theatre company, Flying Arrow Productions, believes that theatre can be an agent for positive change in the world and she’s setting out to prove it.
“There is the idea that theatre can change the world in a small way, change the way people think about a topic,” she said.
As part of her master’s thesis, Hallewas is creating an innovative theatre project in Revelstoke, one that will involve community members in exploring the topics of refugees, being a newcomer and what it means to be welcomed and to belong in Revelstoke. On Wednesday evening she launched the project in Revelstoke at a meeting, attended by 15 people, at the Knights of Pythias hall where Flying Arrow Productions meets and rehearses.
This is research in two senses, Hallewas explained. It is academic research – for Hallewas’s master’s thesis for her studies in the applied theatre program at the University of Victoria – but it is also research by and for the community. It will explore and expose the feelings of long-term residents and newcomers alike as they receive and interact with one another.
As Hallewas explains, drama can be used “as a tool for research, to find out what a community thinks about a particular topic.” In the play that will be created, “we can explore what it feels like to be a newcomer in Revelstoke – and possibly a refugee,” she said.
As Revelstoke has been welcoming visitors from around the world, many of whom decide to stay, it is pertinent to ask “Are we a welcoming community?” Hallewas said. In the coming year Revelstoke will also likely welcome a refugee family, sponsored by Revelstoke for Refugees and supported by hundreds of community members who have donated their time and money to bring them here. How will this community welcome them?
The first part of the project will be a series of eight workshops around experiences of being a refugee of arriving in, or welcoming newcomers to, Revelstoke. Participants will share their stories and insights. Hallewas has her own story. She and her partner immigrated to Canada from Australia several years ago and some of Hallewas’s family members fled Italy for Australia as refugees during the Holocaust.
There will be many opportunities for involvement in this production. Some people may just observe the process; some may want to be writers who record important aspects of the conversations and eventually produce a script; some will be researchers and some will be actors in the final play on Family Day. Anita suggests that the play will likely take place at the Railway museum, “but it is up to the group to decide.”
For those interested in being part of this project, please contact Anita Hallewas at firstname.lastname@example.org.