We Are Canadian ‘evolving tribute’ to diversity of Canada’s population

Lennie MacPherson comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 11, 2014

Members of the Confederation Centre Young Company perform Canada Day. 

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Summer was late coming, but has since given us bottomless buckets of sunshine.

It’s tough on some farmers, to be sure.

However, the weather has been just right for the performance crop. A hearty yield can be found in the Confederation Centre amphitheatre, bright and ripe and ready to go on to exciting futures.

You know how you used to draw sunglasses on the sun itself?

They’re that.

And, to think this talent that will spread across stages everywhere was, in part, nurtured and pushed and honed here.

Some players will be compelled to return and give back to our vibrant cultural scene, and some will carry forth with a piece of the small town Island experience.

We Are Canadian is an update to Alan Lund’s original Les Feux Follets, which, itself, was revised and mounted for the last two seasons.

It is an evolving tribute to the increasing diversity of Canada’s population. Multiculturalism has been a tenet of our identity since Trudeau senior pirouetted onto the scene. Its success can be seen on the smiling faces of the Young Company, parading around in dazzling costumes from all corners.

The show’s target audience is children, to be sure, but it is a spectacle embraced by all ages.

In the heat and sun, voices ring through downtown Charlottetown, and pique the attention of passers by.

On rainier days, families pack Memorial Hall, their excitement echoing inside the labyrinth. The narration is simple and easy to follow, and the pace keeps tiny hands clapping. While the vocal training and the actual athleticism that goes into the kicks and twists and spins may not be recognized by the kiddies, the results are fully appreciated.

As always, the choreography, sharpened here by Director Kerry Gage, is fun and varied. It draws inspiration from traditions that span the globe, with modern pep sprinkled throughout.

For this year’s run, Gordon Lightfoot’s Railroad Trilogy has been removed, and the train analogy donated to Canada Rocks.

Instead, a newly penned number gives the show its name. The song is perhaps less Canadian flavoured, but its global cheer gives the show a spirited kick off. Another new section nods to the african diaspora, with a warm chorus of voices.

The huge energy of a Bollywood-inspired Indian number is a hit again. And, of course, the ever popular dragon puppetry is back to enchant.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts, that boxy juggernaut, has long been an easy target of angry taxpayers.

Do remember, though, that amazing things continue to occur in this building, which embody the original spirit of its creation. The nationally respected Young Company program is one such light. So while the brass carry on with that inelegant wrestling match of money and art, you can circumvent the hairy business, and influence the quality of theatre directly by dropping a couple Lauriers into the donation box at noon.

Lennie MacPherson, a Charlottetown-based writer, actor and musician, writes theatre reviews for The Guardian during the summer months. He welcomes feedback at mockmywoods@gmail.com.