Arts

Ekaterina Vetrov

Ottawa theatre company chosen to represent Canada at international festival

Once upon a time, Ekaterina Vetrov and her team dreamed of getting chosen to perform at the World Festival of Children’s Theatre. Finally, after hours of tireless rehearsals and patiently awaiting the application process to be complete, this dream has officially become a reality.

Once Upon a Kingdom (OUK) is a local children’s theatre company founded by Vetrov, a University of Ottawa alumna, and staffed by other U of O alumni. This past October, they were chosen to represent Canada at the 2016 World Festival of Children’s Theatre in Stratford, Ontario in June 2016 with their production of The Legend of Parvana Lake.

OUK was founded by Vetrov in 2008 and has performed at numerous festivals around North America. Vetrov began practicing theatre when she was seven years old living in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and she later attended the U of O for degrees in theatre and theatre directing.

Although Vetrov always knew she wanted to work on the stage, her professors at the U of O encouraged her to try out different forms of performance, which continues to inspire her instructing at OUK.

“Daniel Mroz was one of the really inspiring professors for me, I had lots of classes with him, and he teaches movement and I’m really interested in physical theatre,” said Vetrov.

Hélène Ducharme, a visiting professor during Vetrov’s graduate studies, was also a huge inspiration due to her unique focus on puppetry and shadow theatre.

“That really helped us to incorporate more of that into our theatre company. So now, for example, the show that we’re taking to the festival, one of the biggest things we’re doing there is the shadow theatre.”

The theme for this year’s festival is “My World, Our Planet”, which encourages the children involved to share their cultures and worldview with the other participants from around the world. The festival will feature theatre companies from six continents, who will spend their time in Stratford performing their plays, and attending workshops and special events.

As OUK does instruction in both English and Russian, many of the students in her advanced class that will be performing at the festival are of Russian origin. The play is also based on a Georgian legend, and Vetrov believed that these multicultural facets would fit to the theme of this year’s festival.

“They have the international jury that were selecting one theatre company from the whole country,” she said. “So it’s really, really exciting for us that we’ve been chosen, now we’re really working towards that to make the show happen.”

Even though the festival does not take place until June, the cast and crew are working hard to perfect the show before performing it in front of their international audience.

“It’s a very different energy right now in our group,” said Vetrov. “All of the students are extremely excited and they’re working super hard, which with children sometimes it’s a different energy, and they really need to have a goal to work towards to be able to give all 100 per cent.”

OUK will be putting on an advanced performance of their show on May 21, 2016 at Academic Hall.

And only a few weeks later, after over a year of practice, Vetrov and her team will finally get their fairytale ending and proudly represent Canada at the festival.