A duo of digital theatre productions

Prairie Theatre Exchange explores different modes of storytelling

Image provided by Prairie Theatre Exchange

After the live production of Bad Parent by Ins Choi was cancelled, Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) is presenting a duo of digital theatre shows to run throughout the month of March and the beginning of April. The projects are available to view for free on the company’s website.

PTE’s artistic director Thomas Morgan Jones maintains that although the physical theatre space is closed, the company is still thriving despite these unprecedented times.

“While our live theatre is quiet for a little while longer, we wanted to offer these two stories and voices to our community,” Jones said in a recent press release.

The first presentation, Places We Go by Hazel Venzon and David Oro, takes the form of an animated live-action film. Told in both English and Tagalog, the story follows a young girl named Grace who lives in Manila while her mother is working in Canada, specifically in Winnipeg. The film was incrementally released over the first week or so of March but is currently available in its entirety on the PTE website. Running only 30 minutes long and perfect for all ages, you can’t go wrong with this innovative piece of theatre.

The film is a unique blend of drawn animation and live theatre. Hazel Venzon plays Grace — as well as every other role in the film — highlighted only by her silhouette as she inhabits and interacts with a cartoon world through green-screen technology. The audience joins her on an adventure to buy her mother the perfect birthday present — a plane ticket home so they can be together again. Accompanied by twinkling, dreamlike music created by Venzon and Edgardo Esteban and exploring the themes of loneliness, the relationship between mothers and daughters and the lengths we go to for the people we care about, Places We Go will move you to tears one moment and warm your heart the next.

While Places We Go is sweet and uplifting, A Dance To The End Of The World is its tonal opposite. An audio drama written by Jones, the story takes place during a deadly plague in the distant past. The 60-minute production follows a desperate father, his young daughter and the dangerous deals they make just to survive. This gripping cautionary tale is accompanied by a digital collection of illustrations depicting each scene — created by local Indigenous tattoo artist Josh Murdock — to be enjoyed during the listening experience or on its own.

On the duo of digital presentations, Jones said, “Both of these productions speak urgently to the time we’re living in and through […] It’s never been more important to tell stories, and we’re thrilled these two plays can reach audiences directly in their homes or on their phones, here in Manitoba or anywhere in the world.”

Prairie Theatre Exchange’s free digital productions of Places We Go and A Dance To The End Of The World will run until March 31 and April 10 respectively. For more information, please visit pte.mb.ca.