Learning to work with the darkness

Village Conservatory to showcase pieces from the 2021-22 class

The Village Conservatory for Music’s show Embracing Shadows will take place at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church on Mar. 30.. (Supplied photo)

Last year, the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre held a virtual exhibition titled Inhibition Exhibition to showcase 14 original pieces. The works were a mixture of original songs, poems, dances and short plays, created with the help of some of Winnipeg’s top arts professionals.

This year, the exhibition is called Embracing Shadows, which recently entered the recording process.

Embracing Shadows came about as our students’ pieces tie into their own personal demons: depression, performance anxiety, struggles to create and, in one particular case, literally embracing a ghost,” Daphne Finlayson, the Village Conservatory’s director of communications and administration, says. “The title refers to how we both confront and accept our struggles and learn to work with the darkness in each of our lives.”

Many people can likely relate to this topic, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs and flows, and restrictions ease and tighten. Through all this, the Village Conservatory has been working to give their students the best experience possible.

“Last year, we held on as long as we could during the second major wave of the virus until we were forced to pivot to virtual instruction. We had planned on hosting our year-end production live and in person, but necessity meant we needed to change to a digital, pre-filmed presentation,” Finlayson says.

“In the past two years, we’ve continued to ask how we can continue creating art in increasingly challenging circumstances, which has allowed us to explore different methods of performance and what we consider ‘theatre.’”

This has resulted in the students having an increase in their appreciation for the program and the ability to perform, even if it is only for a virtual audience.

“It’s been interesting, because I feel like theatre as a whole has been changing throughout this pandemic, so it’s allowed us to be a part of that development. It also makes me very grateful for having the opportunity to connect with all of these other artists throughout this time,” Madyson Richard, one of the students in this year’s program, says in an email to The Uniter.

For some of the students, this showcase is exactly what they have needed, since many couldn’t perform or connect with others in a pre-pandemic way.

“It’s been two years since I’ve done any kind of performance, and it just excites me that I have the opportunity to put something on a stage after two years,” Madison Olivier, another program student, says. “(I’m) even more excited that it’s something I personally wrote, showing a piece of myself. The show is just such a healing process for us all, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Bronwyn Smyth, a student who created a mini horror film for the exhibition, says over email that one of the best parts about performing is “hearing the audience laugh.”

These students may not have the opportunity to hear their virtual audience’s laughter, tears or applause, but if this year’s exhibition is anything like last year’s performance, viewers are in for a wonderful theatrical experience.

There will be a live screening of Inhibition Exhibition: Embracing Shadows at the historic Crescent Fort Rouge United Church on Mar. 30 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at bit.ly/embracingshadows.

Published in Volume 76, Number 19 of The Uniter (March 2, 2022)

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