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Theatre workshops bring local history to life

Jasmine Bowen, owner of Live History, will be in Jasper on Sept. 10 to teach two theatre workshops. Submitted photo.

If you thought theatre was a dying medium you might want to think again.

In September a theatre company called Live History will be in town to host two workshops to teach children about the historic art form and how to tailor it to site-specific locations, such as Jasper.

“We work with various museums around the world and we go in with our skeleton script and we customize the show so that it becomes a story about your people, your town and your history,” said Jasmine Bowen, owner of the company.

If that wasn’t enough each play produced by the theatre troupe also includes a mystery.

“It’s completely interactive and the audience is always presented with a mystery or a quest or a mission to go on, so instead of a fourth wall with traditional theatre once you step into a live history show you’re part of that world.”

A typical show is about an hour long and there is no guarantee the mystery will be solved.

“We’ve been compared to an escape room,” said Bowen, who will visit 60 venues across six countries this year.

For those not in the know, an escape room is a physical game in which a group of players try to solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to try and get out of a locked room within a specific time limit.

While there are no plans to hold a performance in Jasper she will be in town on Sept. 10 to host two workshops.

The first workshop will focus on mystery building, breaking down the most common types of mysteries used in mystery novels, shows and theatre.

The workshop will teach children how to build their own mystery while learning about Jasper’s local history.

The second workshop will focus on site-specific theatre, a unique style of performance using the space and atmosphere surrounding participants to create small, intimate theatre productions brimming with realism.

In this workshop participants will learn about Jasper’s history, including little known facts, while also learning how to use the environment, atmosphere, and space around them.

“It’s a much different technique than traditional Broadway style theatre. The audience is never more than a few feet from your face so there’s a difference in the way you speak, where you stand; if a fire truck goes by you have to acknowledge that noise.”

For Bowen, teaching and performing in site-specific historical theatre productions has been a dream come true.

“I trained in theatre at the University of Toronto, but I’ve been a professional actor since I was nine years old. As I went on in my career and I was making a living as a full-time actor I realized not only was site-specific theatre what I wanted to do, but historic site-specific was the niche that set my heart afire,” said Bowen.

After working in that niche for several years she decided to branch off on her own and started Live History.

“It grew from me doing all the shows in all the venues to now we have a roster of 15 actors and we also pick up local actors along the way.”

When she’s in Jasper her show designer will also be in town to help with the workshops.

“Theatre is a very old art and we believe the future of entertainment is interactive. More and more people, especially the generation growing up, they don’t want a passive experience anymore, they want to feel, they want to see, they want to touch, and so theatre is evolving.”

Both workshops will be held on Sept. 10. For more information contact Habitat for the Arts.

Paul Clarke

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