Stratford Bearing Backdrops For Walkerville

Walkerville students learned theatrical presentation skills such as stage carpentry, artistic welding (shown), wig making, scenic painting, and special effects makeup during a workshop hosted by Off the Wall Stratford.Photo courtesy of Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance.

Walkerville students learned theatrical presentation skills such as stage carpentry, artistic welding (shown), wig making, scenic painting, and special effects makeup during a workshop hosted by Off the Wall Stratford.
Photo courtesy of Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance.

(WINDSOR, ON) – In a new partnership, the Walkerville Centre for the Creative Arts has united with the creative set designers of Stratford and the University of Windsor’s School of Dramatic Art. The results of the effort will be on display at this weekend’s Euripides’ tragedy The Trojan Women.

Play publicist Gail Robertson, of GailNow Consulting, told The Square the, “sets alone are worth the price of admission. And a great boost to have this connection between Stratford and Windsor.”

With the help and guidance of Stratford’s creative set-making unit known as Off The Wall, Walkerville students were able to create realistic sets, props, masks, and faux armour for a production which tracks the aftermath of ten bloody years of the Trojan War.

The involvement of Stratford began when WCCA director Jeff Marontate was approached by Off The Wall’s board of directors to discuss working together for last summer’s theatre production workshops offered by Stratford’s artist collective. Marontate was quick to realize he faced an opportunity to take the workshops beyond simple instruction and to use the expertise to mentor his students in preparing sets for a specific play.

The Trojan Women was selected as the play to take advantage of the talent available, but using Canadian poet Gwendolyn MacEwen’s version.

Stratford Off The Wall, a collective made up primarily of prop and scenic artists from the Stratford Festival, conducts hands-on workshops during the summer and fall. Students in the program learn theatrical presentation skills such as stage carpentry, artistic welding, wig making, scenic painting, and special effects makeup.

The University of Windsor’s Scenic Design professor David Court was brought aboard to design the set which would be assembled by Walkerville’s students. Their tasks included artistically creating massive stone walls of the fallen city along with a towering 14’ high gateway to the city and an adjacent crumbling stone hut.

For props, masks, and armour, WCCA graduate Matthew Burgess was hired. He guided the team of students in creating dozens of props including swords, armour, helmets, pottery, statuary, and faux food.

Burgess himself designed twenty masks for the play. These were put together in a mask workshop held in November and led by Stratford actress Peggy Coffey. Her role was not only to oversee the work but also to enrich the students’ understanding of the style of the masks and the type of acting required for a masked Greek tragedy.

Windsor residents will be able to see the results of this partnership at one of the six play dates. The curtain will rise evenings on February 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24, at 7pm, with an extra performance on Sunday February 18 in the Walkerville Collegiate auditorium, at 2100 Richmond Street.

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