Anyone who drinks from the babbling brook will be turned into a fawn for life.
It’s a spell that Ms. Grindle, the wicked guardian of an orphaned brother and sister, lays after the children escape her grasp in Caravan Farm’s theatrical adaptation of the Grimm’s tale Little Brother, Little Sister.
But unlike most plays, when the young siblings flee into the wintry woods, the audience follows – literally.
Performed across Caravan Farm Theatre’s snowy 80-acre property in Armstrong, B.C., with the audience travelling from scene to scene on eight horse-drawn sleighs, the annual winter show has become such a success that, even with three performances per night for three weeks, the run usually sells out.
Designed for both adults and kids, this year’s tale taps into the need for people – especially family members – to accept each other’s differences and to accept change.
But the high-energy shows are far from sombre affairs – and Mother Nature demands that they be larger than life.
“The elements are so grand and beautiful, and you always feel like you’re performing in the shadows of that beauty, so you have to be twice as large,” says artistic director Courtenay Dobbie, who laughs as a group of guys struggles to hoist a nine-metre Christmas tree in the background.
“You have to match the environment.”
Of course, audiences bundled under blankets and sipping hot drinks can stay warm and cozy even on the chilliest nights; but for the actors, finding the best ways to conquer the cold has become a constant quest. (Ms. Dobbie’s top tips for them: change your socks after every show, warm your boots by the fire, wear a scarf around your waist and pile on the merino wool layers.)
Still, Ms. Dobbie says the outdoor experience is just as satisfying for the performers as it is for the audience members, who get to soak in a set that includes stars, snowy fields and sparkling trees.
“You’re seeing a scene that is set against the backdrop of a beautiful snow-covered mountain, and between each scene, you get this fantastic sleigh ride,” says Ms. Dobbie, who adds that an actual young deer recently stopped by a rehearsal, which seemed a wonderful omen. “So it’s a theatrical experience, but it’s also an environmental rush.”