THUNDER BAY - This week, there will be an unfamiliar, surreal, even fantastical sight on the city’s waterfront, but only those with a little imagination will be able to see it.
“We use a lot of creativity,” said Jessica Krasnichuk. “If you come see it, you will know where the peach is and what the peach is. We take you on that journey with us. It’s a lot of physical drama in that sense and you have to kind of go along for the ride with them. You’ll know.”
Krasnichuk is playing Aunt Sponge from the classic Roald Dahl tale, James and the Giant Peach, which is just one of the shows being offered at this year’s Superior Theatre Festival.
Donna Marie Baratta, the artistic and managing director of the festival, said in just three years, the Superior Theatre Festival has grown in many surprising ways.
“We haven’t done anything the same each year,” she said. “I like to experiment and I feel like we are.”
This year there are four unique shows being performed, starting with the first outdoor performance by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra featuring Raine Hamilton and Zachary Lucky during Live on the Waterfront.
A performance by Adelheid Dance Project, What it’s Like, will take place at the Finlandia, which features three dancers exploring the idea of connection, masculinity and brotherhood.
Over at the Urban Abby, the World Wide Directors Lab has been working on an original piece called Between Two Breaths, which features personal stories of people living in the community directed by international directors from around the world.
“That is a particular piece that they have been extracting stories from individuals in Thunder Bay,” Baratta said. “There are eight actors and creators that are local that have been sharing and building this piece together with these directors from out of town.”
“They started this journey together to go to different communities and countries and work with the people there and create something,” Baratta continued. “We are very fortunate to have them come here and do the same thing in our community.”
A musical performance of James and the Giant Peach will take place at the Spirit Garden on the waterfront. The classic tale follows James, a young boy searching for his family who goes on a magical journey aboard a giant peach.
“There is this beautiful story about his journey and that is going to be magical here in the Spirt Garden because there are all kinds of beautiful elements to this, bubbles and spells,” Baratta said.
Those performing in the show think the setting of the stage offers some challenges, but also exciting opportunities because it relies so much on the audience joining in on the fun.
“I think the scene we have here in the Spirit Garden allows flexibility in your performance because you have to be flexible,” Krasnichuk said. “And it’s just a really great cast, we have a lot of fun numbers, and singing, and dancing, and it’s just a great show.”
The Superior Theatre Festival was created to provide a multi-disciplinary arts festival in the city of Thunder Bay. With so much going on this year, Baratta thinks the festival really has everything to offer in a significant way for the first time in three years.
And it offers something not available in Thunder Bay, live outdoor theatre, which is something Baratta says completely changes how an audience experiences a show by bringing everyone’s imagination out of the dark.
“The aspect and the grandness of this space, you can see all the things that happen behind, you are not sitting in the dark,” she said. “You can see the community around you, you can see the reactions of everybody. There is no fourth wall.”
The Superior Theatre Festival kicks off on Wednesday for the Live on the Waterfront performance, and continues from July 26 to July 29 at the Finlandia, Urban Abby, and Spirit Garden. For a complete list of show times, venues, and tickets, visit www.superiortheatrefestival.com.