This year’s duo of X Fest productions is made up of two classics: Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk.
Previews for the outdoor theatre series will begin on Monday, July 15, and opening night will be Thursday, July 18. Shows will continue Mondays to Saturdays until Aug. 3.
Starting things off will be Mike Kenny’s Cinderella, told from the perspective of the classic tale’s rats.
“The rats will tell the story of someone they love — Cinderella,” said director Tracey Power.
Power has been doing theatre in the city with Western Canada Theatre for about six years, first as an actor, and since in a number of roles, including choreographer, playwright and director.
Now with Project X Theatre, Power hopes her work with Cinderella will attract summertime family theatregoers.
Power said approaching a classic tale like Cinderella requires a novel approach, but she’s also excited to show it to those who might not already know the story.
“You have to find modern ways of telling it to make sure it’s talking to today’s audience,” she said.
Power said in doing that, the audience may be in for some surprises.
“Maybe it’s not a glass slipper. Maybe it’s something else. And Cinderella has her faults — nothing is perfect,” she said.
Cinderella will preview on Monday, July 15, at 7 p.m. and opening night is on Thursday, July 18.
The other half of this year’s theatre in the park presentations will be told through Randi Edmundson’s Jack and the Beanstalk.
“It’s this beautiful story Randi has written about friendship, forgiveness… and there’s musical numbers. You really get a bit of everything,” said Jack and the Beanstalk director Mika Laulainen.
Laulainen is a freelance director from Vancouver who has worked with local puppeteer Edmundson before. The two trained together at the Banff Puppet Theatre Intensive facilitated by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop.
The play has been adapted to be puppet-friendly, and Laulainen said she’s excited for audiences to see the scale the group is playing with at X Fest.
Three actors will cover multiple puppets in the play and Laulainen said directing the trio has been an interesting venture so far.
“When you work with puppets, you’re directing not only the actors, but also the puppets,” she said.
Laulainen said the use of puppets is an important part of making the story relatable, using German theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht’s idea of the distancing effect to explain why.
“By making something just a little stranger than reality, a little out of our realm of ordinary, we end up being able to connect with it more fully because we aren’t comparing ourselves to it,” she said.
“And puppets fall into that strangeness category.”
For similar reasons, Laulainen said puppets also work well with kids.
“They don’t worry if they’re allowed to talk to them. They just yell back and it’s so sweet and fun,” she said.
Jack and the Beanstalk will preview on Tuesday, July 16, while opening night is on Friday, July 19, at 7 p.m.
For a complete schedule, go online to projectxtheatre.ca.