Many theatrical groups were hard at work during the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing performances to show off once venues reopened.
Walk&Talk Theatre Company went a little further by starting a pre-pandemic project, taking a break from it, then bringing it back to life.
“End of the Line started off as quite a different show five years ago,” Tanner Manson, a founding member of Walk&Talk Theatre Company, says. “About three years ago, Theatre Projects Manitoba commissioned us as company-in-residence, and it was through the pandemic, surprisingly enough, that the show really found what it was.”
The latest version of End of the Line includes a staged reading at the West End Cultural Centre (WECC) on Apr. 6. A staged reading is a rehearsed reading of a script for an audience without sets, costumes or stage movement.
The new musical written by Duncan Cox, Ben Townsley and Manson is about how eight characters navigate an apocalypse known as “The Flood.”
“It is an epic tale of the end of the world of biblical proportions – but with lots of songs and oddball characters,” Michelle Boulet, artistic coordinator for Theatre Projects Manitoba (TPM), says.
The staged reading will be used as a way to move the project forward by looking for feedback. Manson says Walk&Talk is excited to dive back into the production after the reading to incorporate the notes they receive. Then, they hope to finally produce the show.
“Sharing with an audience is such an important milestone in the development of a new work. In all our previous projects, we have always shared work with small audiences at a certain point of development before doing a run of a show,” Manson says.
“Working on a project as creator-performers, it’s hard to see or hear things with fresh eyes. You learn so much from audience reactions and from feedback, both as performers and as creators.”
Through the creation process, Walk&Talk has had the support of TPM and Brian Drader, the executive director of Manitoba Association of Playwrights (MAP).
“TPM (have) been fabulous supporters both financially and as mentors. Brian Drader at MAP is the dramaturg for End of the Line, a guiding light that has supported our playwright, Ben Townsley, as well as our collaborative creation process,” Manson says.
Manson adds that the relationships Walk&Talk has with TPM and MAP are important and meaningful, especially for young producers of a new work.
Walk&Talk is “all very self-motivated. They are very much the creators and developers of the script. They have put together a great group of young, emerging artists to round out the cast,” Boulet says.
The staged reading will involve actors and musicians from Winnipeg. The actors include Cox, Townsley, Manson, Victoria Hill, Montana Lehmann, Hera Nalam, Kamal Chioua and Jean van der Merwe. The musicians are Josh Bellan, Matt Kozicki, Brendan Thompson and Paul de Gurse.
To attend the staged reading of End of the Line, purchase tickets from TPM, the WECC or Walk&Talk’s website at bit.ly/EndoftheLineWECC.
Published in Volume 76, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 23, 2022)