A student falls asleep over her history homework to find herself transported back to medieval times, where she goes on a knight’s quest, learns about ladies and princesses and meets a magician.
“All in 30 minutes – it’s like a soap opera,” quipped DJ Carroll, director of the children’s play that will be presented at this year’s Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. Maxine’s Medieval Misadventures is a magical romp combining comedy, magic tricks and improvisation.
Where a show is usually rehearsed for months, this one has come together in a few weeks. When the syrup festival committee approached him to do the children’s play, Carroll called up a handful actors who are veterans of the Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival. Many of the routines are things they’ve done before, so it’s a matter of stringing them together and fitting the pieces in. And there were more than enough costumes from the festival around to outfit the cast.
Carroll said he knew he could count on the actors to rise to the challenge.
“We could get together Friday night and put it on Saturday,” he said. “They’re all really good at improv. And because of Robin Hood, they’re all really good at interacting with kids.”
Julie Ingriselli, who plays the title role of Maxine, said the interaction with the children in the audience is what she likes about the production.
“It gives us more chance to use our improv skills because they’ll throw anything at us and we have to work with it,” she said.
The Grade 11 student has been in the Robin Hood festival for the past two years, as a fighter and an outlaw. She first got involved with theatre when she took drama class in Grade 9 and discovered she loved it. She wants to continue doing theatre after she finishes school, but as a side to a more “consistent” career. She’d like to work in early childhood development, so children’s shows are great experience.
The worst-case scenario with a children’s shows is the kid who just stands there and gives the actors nothing to work with, Carroll said, but that rarely happens because the ones who volunteer are eager to be involved.
“It gives [the show] a higher level of energy,” he said. “The kids are excited to be there, so their excitement travels over to the show.”
Audience participation can also completely change the nature of the show. Sometimes children cheer for the hero, and other times they cheer for the villain, Carroll said.
There will be three performances during the day, and they could end up being very different shows.
“It’ll start exactly the same and after that we have no idea how the show’s going to go. It could go differently every single show.”
Where the theatrical offerings are usually performed at Trinity United Church, this year’s play will be staged in the drama room, Room 19 at EDSS. Seating is limited, so plan to arrive early. Show times are 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.
Cost is $2 per person.