New Dancing Sky Theatre show explores the world after the end of the world

Kyle Kuchirka and Peace Akintade feature in "Greensleep," the new play by Kelley Jo Burke premiering at Dancing Sky Theatre. (Supplied / Photo by Britainy Zapshalla)

Kelley Jo Burke’s new play is a fairytale for the apocalypse. Or, as Jeff Goldblum puts it in the movie masterpiece “Jurassic Park”: Life finds a way.

“What happens if humans aren’t on the planet?” she said.

Burke’s new play Greensleep is set to premiere at Dancing Sky Theatre, running from April 26 to May 12. The play explores the world after an unknown environmental catastrophe has removed most human beings from the face of the Earth — and the natural world has taken the Earth back.

The main characters are go on their own, eccentric journeys through this reimagined post-climate-apocalypse world, and try to figure out their place in it after the end has happened.

Despite the stark themes, Burke said this show is meant to be funny — a fantasy-comedy like a “post-apocalyptic version of Sleeping Beauty.”

“I started the play in a science fiction-y kind of place, and sort of let it get eaten by a fairy tale,” she said. “This play is concerned with … our relationship with nature, to stories, to gender — but it’s not a lecture on any of those topics. It’s a story, it’s a fairy tale, and I believe it comes to a place of hope.”

The play itself is meant to address nature, humanity and the relations between them through the lens of a new-age fairy tale. Burke said the various characters go on different journeys during the play to find out “what comes next” in a very changed world.

Burke said Angus Ferguson, the artistic director of Dancing Sky Theatre, commissioned her to imagine a play where there natural world is a character unto itself. The result is Greensleep, a show where music, puppetry and the set itself lend the world its own sense of character.

The show has had expert help bringing the concept to life. Crispi Lord, the artistic director of puppet theatre experts Wide Open Children’s Theatre and one of the performers in the play, helped develop different puppet-like features of the set and props. And musician Edith Rattary has created a unique soundscape throughout the stage, per Burke.

“Crispi is so gifted in how you make things move and happen on the stage in a way that’s exciting and interesting,” he said. “And Edith is an extraordinary musician. She’s going to be live on stage during the shows, improvising with the actors using a palette of natural sound and instruments to create the sound of the world.”

Greensleep has a level of spectacle thanks to the set and the sound, and Burke hopes that will lead the audience on a rather silly adventure. adventure. The show isn’t meant to point fingers, but rather inspire reflection.

Burke said she wants the audience to walk away having enjoyed a silly and dark adventure, and thinking about what has to happen to prevent our own apocalypse.

“I never write rhetorical work. I never want someone to sit in a play and get told what to do. I don’t think that’s what art is for,” she said. “When we say this is rooted in trying to bring the natural world forward, I promise that will be fun and respectful and engage conversation.”

Greensleep runs at Dancing Sky Theatre from April 26 to May 12. Tickets can be purchased online at ontheboards.ca.

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