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JULIA COOK: A night of innocent Table-top entertainment

These are some of the unusual actors for this unusual performance.
These are some of the unusual actors for this unusual performance. - Contributed

The RIver Clyde Pageant is offering a special production of theatre with a play featuring vintage toys and other stand-in items


First off, get your mind out of the gutter.

I know when you read the words “Tabletop entertainment”, your thoughts went to a little more “nightly” entertainment than what I’m referring to.

Julia Cook.
Julia Cook.

This weekend’s events are a little more if “Toy Story” went vintage.

“It is a show for adults,” says Amy Schwabauer, one of the performers and creators of this production. “But it’s not really a puppet show, and all of the characters are vintage toys and objects, so we built this little town and we each play about six different characters.”
The production Schwabauer and her co-creator/performer, Mike Geither, are bringing to P.E.I. is called “The Events of the Warren County Fair as Observed by a Young Astronaut”. It’s being hosted by the River Clyde Pageant as a lead-up event to the festival’s big days in July and August.

“(Mike) is also teaching a writing workshop that is showing participants techniques and skills for dramatic writing,” says Megan Stewart, the co-director and producer of the RIver Clyde Pageant.

Since Geither was already coming to teach a class, Stewart thought it’d also be a great idea of host this performance, too.

“It was originally Mike’s idea because he was fascinated by toy theatre and wanted to create a story about a fair,” says Schwabauer.

If you go

  • What: “The Events of the Warren County Fair as Observed by a Young Astronaut”- Toy Tabletop Theatre
  • When and where: Saturday at 7 p.m. in New Glasgow at The Mill and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Charlottetown at the Vessel, 171 Great George St.
  • Tickets: Buy them online at warrencountyfair.brownpapertickets.com

This play has been toured through Ohio and Ontario, but it’s the first time for P.E.I. Schwabauer says they’ve done it for a variety of audiences, and everyone finds something to really enjoy about it

I asked Schwabauer and Geither how the play works because, if they are performing with dolls and objects, the audience would clearly be able to see them on stage. Plus, the set is completely on a tabletop and they are just standing behind it. Schwabauer says they are very much visible, but they are also very much a part of the play.

“There are elements of miniatures that brings about nostalgia.”

As I mentioned, both Schwabauer and Geither play multiple roles in the production. For Schwabauer, her favourite characters are a doll called Helen because she’s a pixie doll from the ’70s and Don (the mechanic), who’s portrayed as a wrench.

For Geither, his favourite characters are Eric the mechanic, who’s played by a corkscrew, and Ursula, who’s a teenage girl.

This isn’t Geither’s first time on P.E.I. He taught a writing workshop at the RIver Clyde Pageant years before and was dying to come back.

“For people outside of P.E.I., it’s just a beautiful place to be,” says Geither. “But more than that, I just had a really good time. As Amy and I had this show, we said if we could do our show, that’d be great, too!”

This show is a great taste of what the River Clyde has to offer later this summer, and you can watch it in either New Glasgow or Charlottetown this weekend.

So, maybe not a night of “salacious” tabletop entertainment, but it’s definitely a new way to experience theatre.

And you'll likely see me in the audience.

Julia Cook is an entertainment columnist for The Guardian. She can be reached at julia.cook@theguardian.pe.ca.

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