Armageddon. The apocalypse. Judgement day. For every word to describe the end of the world, there are a myriad of ways authors, filmmakers and creators have imagined doomsday would happen and how we as a society will experience and remember it.
A Time of Future Tales, an original musical by My Friends and I Theatre, takes the bleak imagery of the apocalypse and goes a step further; imagining the world that first and second generation survivors have created after an apocalyptic event. Throughout the course of the 60-minute Hamilton Fringe Festival Production, audience members are invited to learn about and share in the new way of living created by the survivors, while simultaneously celebrating their history through a post-modern kitchen party.
“It’s a big celebration in a dire context,” Creator Eudes La Roche-Francoeur told me during an interview. “There’s a real contrast between the dangerous world these survivors live in and the celebratory world of enjoying life. We wanted to create an interactive, intimate experience around this.”
To build the production, La Roche-Francoeur dove into his past including his childhood influences in Quebec, family history in Ireland and the East Coast and memories of summer campfire gatherings. Started as a writing exercise during 2017 while in his final year at Sheridan College, La Roche-Francoeur has been patiently gathering stories and folklore and weaving them with his childhood influences to create the world of A Time of Future Tales. ‘How would the people of the future talk about us?’ and ‘what fairy tales would exist about us,’ were guiding questions as the script took shape.
The result is a post-apocalyptic holiday-like celebration, where new traditions emerge and folklore is passed from generation to generation. Like most family gatherings, there is a familiar feeling to the characters and stories they tell; however, La Roche-Francoeur is quick to remind me that the stories are reflective of the dire circumstances that the characters have experienced and some are specific to their reality.
If a post-apocalyptic world in dire circumstances is meant to look bleak, A Time of Future Tales is anything but. Director Macayla Paris made conscious design choices to not only utilize materials that would survive the end of the world, but made an effort to utilize bright colours in the set and characters to symbolize their love for another and the community being built. “Whenever something bad happens, it’s remarkable how a community comes together,” says Paris. “This is a show about community, love, moving on and building a new life.”
The celebratory note of a kitchen party comes to life with original music, inspired by La Roche-Francoeur’s childhood influences. Actors are required to be multi-talented in this production; not only are they required to perform and sing (it is a musical, after all), but they are also required to play instruments. Fortunately, like the characters in the story, La Roche-Francoeur and Paris had a talented community to draw upon- their colleagues and classmates from Sheridan. In addition to creating an innate sense of family within the production, this new community created their own instruments for the performance- while some of the instruments are traditional and will be familiar to audience members, some instruments are made of found objects and will be new, specially created for the production.
Through collaboration, tragedy and celebration, A Time of Future Tales ultimately becomes a story about the stories we tell, the experiences we share, and how individuals relate to one another to create a sense of community and collective memory. Although the apocalypse is not a traditional setting for a fairy tale, My Friends and I Theatre have created a show that celebrates what we remember and share as individuals, and how what we choose to remember and choose to forget ultimately shape the traditions and rituals of a society.
Who: My Friends and I Theatre
What: A Time of Future Tales
Where: Players’ Guild of Hamilton (80 Queen Street South)
When: July 18-28, various dates & times (as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival)