On March 29, the beloved children’s book by Kenneth Oppel, Peg and the Yeti, adapted by Niagara’s own Carousel Players proved to be fun for the whole family.
The stage adaptation of Peg and the Yeti was written by Monica Dufault who is a St. Catharines-based writer. Dufault had worked with Carousel Players in the past and brought the play adaptation to them in 2011.
“She has been in a lot of our shows that we have done before at Carousel Players and she is really interested in sparking the imaginations of children,” said Jane Gardner, General Manager of Carousel Players. “Monica brought the play to us. She was inspired by this particular picture book and she collaborated with Kenneth saying that she would really like to adapt his book to the stage. Some of his work has been adapted to the stage in the past. So she wanted to take this book which was meaningful to her.”
The play follows a girl named Peg who decides to climb Mount Everest. She sets out on her adventure and it takes her to many faraway places with strange experiences making it an ideal adventure for children.
“If you are a kid who is age four and up it’s a great kind of adventure story for someone who goes right across the world,” said Gardner.
Carousel Players has a long and rich history in children’s theatre, having been around since 1972, travelling to schools and theatres to perform their work. They are an award-winning professional theatre group for young audiences based in St. Catharines and are devoted to challenging their youth spectators to use their imaginations.
The show was developed with children in mind. By utilizing child involvement and imagination, they make the experience unique and meaningful for the children in the audience.
“…in the book there is an avalanche that is caused by Peg as she climbs the mountain, so we involve some of the kids in the audience in creating that avalanche using wonderful silk that the kids hold on to while Peg is on a ladder in place of the mountain. Together with the lights you really start to feel like you are in an avalanche as well,” said Gardner.
“The way we have staged the piece, everyday objects become part of the adventure. We’re actually on a boat, we meet the abominable snowman, we travel to an igloo, we travel by rickshaw across a different part of the world and everyday objects are turned into a rickshaw or into an igloo. It’s a great way for kids to get to use their imagination.”
Encouraging imagination in children is paramount to Carousel Players.
“We love inspiring kids to use their imagination in terms of going on an adventure. We always have really great question and answer sessions after our shows and we talk to the kids about what they’ve seen and we encourage them to write us letters and drawings and all sorts of things. What we found when we talked to teachers after the show is that the kids actually became the characters on the playground,” said Gardner.
Now that the play has been performed at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre, Carousel Players will be going to as many as 30 different schools across Ontario, including shows as far out as Midland, Port Hope, as well as heading out to Winnipeg to be a part of the Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s season in the fall, after which it will tour its way back to Niagara until December.
Visit arts.brocku.ca for more information about upcoming shows.