25th Street Theatre heads back in time with newest travelling performance

Cast member Johanna Arnott recites a line during a rehearsal for Luna, the newest play from Saskatoon-based 25th Street Theatre. -- Submitted photo.

The 25th Street Theatre company plans to kick off its 50th season by going back in time.

The Saskatoon-based troupe is travelling to schools in northern and central Saskatchewan during the first two weeks of February performing Luna, an original play created by Saskatchewan playwright Danielle Roy.

“It’s definitely going to be a wonderful experience,” Roy said. “I know as far as the rehearsal process has gone, it’s been really rewarding seeing it fully fleshed out, all of the sets now assembled, and all of the actors bringing out all of the stops. It’s very exciting and I definitely feel very proud and also honoured that this is work that gets to be shared.”

Luna follows the adventures of a young girl who builds a time machine in her dad’s garage to go back in time and unfreeze her mother. The story follows Luna on a journey through memory as she visits dinosaurs, robots, and moments in her childhood.

For inspiration, Roy drew on her love for and connection with her own parents, who inspired her to face her fears during some difficult times.

Although the play was written with young viewers in mind, Roy said it deals with some heavy topics. She urged teachers and parents to be mindful of the content, and be prepared to have conversations about it.

“It deals with loss and grief and depression and the courage it takes to keep moving forward, and this story kind of provides, I think, some tactics and tools for how to navigate that,” Roy said. “(It’s) a contrast between how we deal with loss as an adult versus how we deal with it as a child.”

Roy began writing Luna in 2020 when Persephone Theatre asked her to create a Zoom play for their Theatre for Young Audiences playwright unit. Initially, Roy struggled to find a topic, so she dug deep into her own life and relationships for a story.

“I actually had a hard time trying to decide what to make the play about for kids, because I’m not a kid anymore,” Roy explained. “I had to really find things that matter to me and be authentic to myself. Whoever resonates with it, resonates with it.”

The company started their tour on Feb. 5 with a performance in Kyle, and will end it with a public performance at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon on Feb. 18. Between those two dates, they’ll stop in nine other Saskatchewan communities, including Prince Albert, La Ronge, and Meath Park.

In addition to performing the play, 25th Street Theatre actors and crew will also hold workshops at the schools where they perform. Roy said it’s a great way to get students interested in a medium they may not have experience with, since not all schools have drama programs.

“Theatre is such an important part of life,” she said. “it’s something that I feel everybody could benefit from, whether or not you decide to do theatre as a career, but I do think that it’s important that they have the opportunity

“I know a lot of friends of mine who have come from smaller communities and have talked about the theatre programs that have come to their schools that have taught them those things and then they realized, ‘oh, that’s what I’m into.’”

Cast members like Ed Mendez, who plays Luna’s father and a robot in the show, are also eager to perform in Saskatchewan’s smaller rural areas.

“I’ve missed going to small towns to perform,” Mendez said in a press release. “Now, seeing local theatre companies reaching out to communities outside the major centres, it’s really great.”

Luna stars Johanna Arnott, Paige Francoeur, Ed Mendez, and Katie Moore. Performances are scheduled for Feb. 13 in Prince Albert, Feb. 14 in La Ronge, and Feb. 15 in Meath Park. Visit www.25thstreettheatre.org for more information about the tour.