Saskatchewan may be known for its 'living skies' and vast prairie fields but there is so much more growing in the hearts and minds of their theatre artists! This month we celebrate our colleagues in Treaty 6 Territory; Wide Open Children's Theatre, and independent artist S.E. Grummett.
Wide Open Children’s Theatre is a puppetry-based company based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan performing for children and young audiences. With a four-show season and a four-month school tour Wide Open reaches between 10 and 15,000 children and families each year. Founded in 2001 they have performed on the Canadian Fringe circuit and at home with their hit series of plays based on the stories of Robert Munsch and original work. With a goal to entertain the adults as well as the kids they create original scripts and adaptations and design and build their own puppets.
Over the years they have performed with Hand Puppets, Rod puppets, shadow puppets, masks and table top puppets (and various combinations). In 2020 they received an award for outstanding puppetry from the Saskatchewan and Area Theatre Awards as well as nominations for set design, original music and playwriting. Pandemic programming has included boulevard performances, live online story times and a Writing for puppetry masterclass. Coming up in person we look forward to the sequel to Frosty The Snowperson (2019) with the all new Frosty and The Maltese Penguin by James O’Shea.
S.E. Grummett (they/them) or Grumms is a queer, transgender performer and puppeteer from Treaty 6 Territory. Grumms has worked as a puppeteer and puppet designer touring to schools across Western Canada.
Most recently, Grumms adapted their solo-show about growing up transgender, “Something in the Water”, to be suitable for a Theatre for Young Audiences. This version premiered in March 2021 at the Adelaide Fringe, where it won “Best Theatre” overall in the festival.
In all of their work, they aim to present intellectual and political ideas to an audience from a loving, empowering and, often silly place. Grumms believes laughter is the best way to educate and create change.
Being queer and gender diverse in the prairies is a much different experience than that of larger cities like Toronto. The themes of self-acceptance, reliance and belonging are especially important for gender diverse youth growing up in the prairies, who may be the only queer person in their community.
By creating queer TYA theatre, Grumms hopes to show gender diverse, trans and questioning youth that they exist, they belong and that living a life of celebration is possible. The transgender experience is so much more than tragic – it is time to see queer theatre that uplifts and transforms the next generation.