ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Splish splash … I was takin’ in a Theatre Antigonish play.
That’s not exactly the opening lyric to the classic Bobby Darin song, but it could be if the legendary crooner was singing about the upcoming Theatre Antigonish production Metamorphoses.
A large pool, basically covering the entire Bauer Theatre stage, has been set up for the play which starts with a pay-what-you-can preview performance Wednesday, Nov. 7, with the official opening night the following evening. Additional performances are on Nov. 9, 10, 17 and 18.
Theatre doors open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. start to the play.
“The front row will be our splash zone; we’ll give towels to everyone in the front row,” director Andrea Boyd, Theatre Antigonish and Festival Antigonish artistic director, said.
“There is a storm that takes place in there; there is dancing and fighting that takes place in the water.”
Boyd said Metamorphoses, by Mary Zimmerman, could be staged without the pool, but it’s part of the script.
“It [without the pool] would be a completely different play,” she said. “And a huge theme is about transformation and the water is a metaphor for that transformation. Particularly with this play; it’s the transformative power of love, in all of its forms.”
Ian Pygott, veteran technical director at the Bauer, said while a pool on stage may be a first for the St. F.X.-based theatre, the actual design was fairly “straightforward.”
“Everything is really solid instead of the way we usually build; we build for safety but this is safety plus,” Pygott said.
“We did it all in house. Andrea said roughly the size she wanted and I did some drawings and plans. We changed a few things, added a few things, and said ‘let’s do it,’ with a great amount of trepidation in our voices,” he added, eliciting laughter from those within earshot.
Amongst those folks were actors Madison Kendall, a student at St. F.X., and community member Brendan Ahern.
In talking about the different stage set up, Kendall kidded that she has acted before, and been in a pool before, so this will just be combining the two.
“This will be our fifth rehearsal but our first with the water,” she said, just prior to an Oct. 16 practice. “So it’s going to be exactly like we did it, but now we’re swimming, wet.”
“We were told to bring extra towels; be prepared to get soaked,” Ahern added.
Kendall talked about the footing, considering she’ll be walking in the pool in a lot of scenes.
“We haven’t exactly discussed what footwear we’ll wear, but it’s all very safe … it’s flat,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing to see it all come together.”
Boyd said the decision will likely be no footwear.
“It’s probably going with bare feet,” she said.
“It [the pool] has been painted and will probably be painted more with paint with grit in it, so it’s not slippery. We’re paying attention to all of that; safety is very important and there have been a lot of discussions about the temperature. Can we have heaters off-stage so there is place to get warm? How do we make sure the back stage stays dry?
“In the script itself, there is a transition where it’s written in that actors come out singing and mop up the stage.”
Metamorphoses is a stage adaptation of the classic myths of Ovid. Boyd said there are 10 stories told in the performance which includes the introduction piece.
“I am so excited to direct this play,” she said.
“The stories will provoke laughter, tears, grief and joy. It will surprise us and draw us in. The actors are all amazing and the creative team is working wonders to bring the play to life. It is a beautiful play with stunning visuals. And who doesn’t enjoy playing in water?”
Boyd noted the wide range of ages on stage with the 15-person cast featuring an 11-year-old as well as a couple of seniors.
“Some people play multiple parts, others one part, depending on people’s availability,” she said. “I like large casts which get a lot of people involved and allows us to do shows which we just can’t do with Festival Antigonish; it’s fun to have a lot of bodies on the stage.”
Kendall and Ahern are amongst the actors with multiple parts.
“Last time I acted in a theatre show I was in high school,” Ahern said. “But I’ve always been around; bartending [in the Green Room] or helping out back stage. A friend of mine said I should check this out and I’m really glad I did.”
“I think one of the most amazing parts of Theatre Antigonish is that there are so many different people coming in with so many different levels of experience,” Kendall, a New York native who has been acting since she was a young girl, said.
“So you have people who have never done a show in their entire lives and just think ‘this would be something fun,’ and then you have people who have been acting all their lives; and with both, you see you have to be vulnerable. There is such a good sense of community here; theatre people are nice and weird and we all get along so well, are so supportive … it lets people open up and be vulnerable.”
Advance tickets for Metamorphoses are on sale now; online at theatreantigonish.com or by phone at 902-867-3333.