Guelph In Postcards: The McCrae Years (1872-1918) is an original production by Jay Wilson that will transport you to the time of John McCrae. Inspired by actual postcards, snapshots of Guelph’s history are brought to life through poetry and song. Featuring Tim Clarke, Rihannon Phillips, Michael Sutherland, Michelle VanderVelde and a guest appearance by Robin Baird-Lewis, the production runs from July 8 to July 22 at the McCrae House.
Guelph’s rich past is a deep well of inspiration for Jay Wilson, whose appreciation of local history fueled the project. Jay’s experience as a guide for GAC’s Historical Walking Tours, an interest in locally written 19th-century poems, and the discovery of Cameron Shelley’s Guelph in Postcards blog developed into the inspiration for this project. Cameron’s blog explores his collection of Guelph postcards and their stories, and truly offers a wealth of local history. Jay notes, “I just scratched the surface in terms of the history that’s available. What’s so exciting about this are the stories that we have yet to tell. There are many more, it’s unbelievable.”
Guelph In Postcards: The McCrae Years (1872-1918) will explore the stories behind a selection of postcards, sharing snapshots of Guelph’s past. Presented in the gardens of the McCrae House, the format of backyard theatre demands that Jay Wilson and his team reconsider many of the tools and tricks of a modern theatre. Sound, lighting, and setting all become unique challenges in the battle to grab and hold the audience’s attention. Luckily, Jay’s experience with vaudeville theatre and as a puppeteer, along with the support of his cast and crew, leave them well equipped to tackle the challenge. Jay shares, “You know, it’s an old cliché that theatre is teamwork but it’s true… in all honesty I got the greatest gang of people. They’re so enthusiastic and willing to share, and they want to honor what it is we’re doing. These actors are involved in in every element of the production, from set to costume design.”
The development of Guelph In Postcards: The McCrae Years (1872-1918) has in many ways been a community effort, with many local individuals and organizations lending their support to the production. Jay says, “I was quite able to tap into a lot of resources quite quickly and it was really quite surprising. Guelph is at the point where we are able to share and support each other instead of feeling defensive or attacked by the work of others. Instead, we can turn that around to support more theatre, appreciation, and art.”
“I have a long-standing belief that theatre is all of the art forms. This production has needed everything from fine art, to fashion, music, and design. Theatre is an opportunity for our community to realize that you need all of those elements working together in order for the production to work. It’s a great model for community, a theatre company is the same thing, a whole bunch of diverse people with different skills all of working together for a common goal. We share in that goal and we share in the joy of presenting it to an audience.”
Get your tickets for Guelph In Postcards: The McCrae Years (1872-1918) today! More information here.