By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Magic and music: some of this theatre town’s top-drawer talent in both are featured in Rising Sun Theatre’s benefit bash at the Gateway Theatre Oct. 1.
Ron Pearson, a virtuoso magician/illusionist with a theatrical bent (Minerva: Queen of the Handcuffs), is on the playbill. So is singer-songwriter/actor/playwright Dana Wylie, whose clever solo memoir Makings of a Voice was the headliner at the 2021 SkirtsAfire Festival.
And the cast of Dreamer’s Cantata, the new Plain Jane Theatre revue that premiered at the Fringe this past summer — Larissa Poho, Bella King, Alanna McPherson, Steven Greenfield — will present songs from that show, dedicated to the witty challenges served up by contemporary musical theatre creators who are all women or gender-non-conforming.
Rising Sun, co-founded in 2004 by Gerry Potter, is a not-for-profit company with a distinguished history of providing opportunities for cognitively disabled people to practise the art of theatre.
Potter, the founding father of Workshop West Theatre, explains that the all-ages troupe collaborates in the creation and performance of original work. “Ideas, scenes, characters” are developed collectively through improv and discussion. And the ensemble, which numbers a dozen or more, is led by an assortment of Edmonton’s theatre professionals — directors, choreographers, designers, storytellers, composers.
“It’s fun work,” says Potter, who started by directing the Rising Sun shows and is now in the double-role of producer and board member. “There’s a lot of undiscovered talent among people labelled as intellectually disabled…. Very often they’re strong on imagination and emotional intelligence; they sense what’s going on” even when words aren’t their go-to mode of expression. “The professionals learn as much as the (casts).”
Some of Rising Sun’s usual granting sources, at both the city and provincial level, have alas disappeared; hence the need for a benefit. But the evening (which includes snacks and silent auction items) places a high priority on … fun.