wâhkôhtowin Theatre in the Park celebrates 10 years
It all began with a dream. Sum Theatre created Theatre in the Park 10 years ago with the idea that art can build community. Thousands of families have made these free, live, professional theatre performances a summer tradition. Along the way they’ve met neighbours, made new friends and seen each other’s children grow up.
Those bonds are at the heart of wâhkôhtowin, an original tale about the connections we all share. It’s a story that actor and Sum Theatre Artistic Associate Krystle Pederson says we all need to hear right now.
“We have all felt the loss of connection over the last couple of years. This performance is a call to rebuild what’s been broken and heal.”
“In cree, wâhkôhtowin means ‘all my relations’. It’s not just the relations with those we love but also our connections to the earth, water and sky.” says Pederson. “We have all felt the loss of connection over the last couple of years. This performance is a call to rebuild what’s been broken and heal.”
wâhkôhtowin will include the live music, giant puppets and audience participation that families have come to know and love. This year Sum’s made a few changes. Theatre in the Park has traditionally visited parks during the month of July but this year, to beat the heat and wild weather experienced over the past several years that forced cancellations, the team is shifting the performance schedule. It’s kicking off summer early with performances in Saskatoon May 5 – June 3 and then the team will hit the road to Regina and area June 5 – 12. This year, Sum is excited to expand the tour to Northern communities including Prince Albert, La Ronge, Stanley Mission and Waskesiu June 15 – 18.
“Sharing the imagination and possibility of theatre with people right across the province is a huge honour.”
“Over the years, Theatre in the Park has grown to a massive six-week province-wide tour,” says Artistic Associate Mackenzie Dawson. “This tour is so important because not everybody has access. For so many, these shows are the first time they are experiencing theatre. Sharing the imagination and possibility of theatre with people right across the province is a huge honour.”
The show’s co-director Laura Negraeff says these neighbourhood performances have inspired her a whole new generation of artists.
“I loved the inclusiveness of the show, the diversity in the cast and how it made us feel a part of something bigger.”
“Before I was even ready to pursue theatre professionally, I attended Theatre in the Park,” says Negraeff. “Right after the show, I told my family that I would work for them someday. I loved the inclusiveness of the show, the diversity in the cast and how it made us feel a part of something bigger.”
“It’s about telling stories that matter and it’s what I love most about the arts,” says Pederson. “I hope the audience leaves this performance remembering the strength we can all find by connecting with each other.”