Halifax’s Gale Force Theatre is taking it outside, literally rolling in on a tandem bicycle this weekend to local parks with their new kid-friendly show, A Tale on Two Wheels.
The whimsical story of two postal workers tasked with delivering the morning, during a break, the duo takes a call from their boss, who wants to move them to the night shift.
“That’s when all the chaos starts because we’ve never had to deliver the night before,” explains co-creator Lily Falk. “So, we have to figure out how to do it, complicated by the fact one of the postal workers is extremely afraid of the dark.”
Like many great ideas for kids, the idea first came to Falk and co-creator Franziska Glen from playing.
“We didn’t start with a script or text but knew we wanted to have a play on a tandem bicycle for really little kids,” explains Falk. “Images would come to mind, and Franziska had this dream of taking a tandem bike and putting monarch butterfly wings on it. We found these pilot jumpsuits and wondered who could wear them.”
Designed for the youngest theatregoers aged 2-6 years, A Tale of Two Wheels may be Gale Force Theatre’s first foray into theatre for young people, but both Falk and Glen come with a background in the genre.
“Franciska has worked in children’s theatre for a few years with Mermaid Theatre doing puppetry, and we both trained with Mermaid in their puppet program, which does have a focus on children’s theatre to a certain extent,” says Falk.
And while A Tale of Two Wheels was written with the pandemic restrictions in mind, Falk says the impetus initially came from their broader interest in children’s theatre.
“When the pandemic happened, and we each had about six months of work wiped out, after the initial shock, we started thinking what we could we do right now,” she says. “Now that the province allows people to gather outside, we thought we should make a bike show for kids. It was out of the situation that we were able to make this show.
To be presented at Conrose and Fort Needham Parks in Halifax and the Dartmouth Commons as part of the Halifax Fringe Festival this weekend, Falk says precautions will ensure everyone’s safety. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available, with families accommodated in their bubbles and separated from other audience members by six feet and twelve feet from the performers.
“I should say it’s not a rain or shine show, though, as it can only go on if it is sunny,” says Falk. “We have too much cardboard involved to have it in the rain.”
With plans to take the show to other locations inside the Maritime bubble, Falk sees it as an opportunity to introduce the next generation to the theatre.
“We both think it is really important for young theatregoers to have exposure to performances specially built for them,” says Falk. “It helps to create the audiences who will later appreciate theatre. There is a lot of screen time right now, and any chance we can offer live in-person entertainment geared to younger audiences, we would love to do it.”
With free admission, A Tale of Two Wheels will be performed at Conrose Park on September 12 at 11:00 am and again at Fort Needham Park at 2:00 pm. The show’s final two performances take place the next day at the Dartmouth Commons at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Visit halifaxfringe.ca for more information.