Improv coming to town


Group from DuffleBag Theatre Company. Photo Credit; Keith Barker

Group from DuffleBag Theatre Company.
Photo Credit; Keith Barker

Four musketeers of improv theatre will be coming to Hay River on Feb. 1.

Hosted by the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC), the DuffleBag Theatre Company will be touring through Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Simpson.

The Toronto-based performers make up one of a few teams from the company that travel around the world with their comedy improv show.

Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director at NACC, said DuffleBag Theatre uses familiar fairy tales for their show but adds some twists.

“It’s a comedy,” she said. “They invite a few kids up from the audience to become a part of the show. They are having fun with the fairy tales but also not taking them too seriously.”

Hay River will be seeing DuffleBag’s version of The Three Musketeers.

Marcus Lundgren is the artistic director and one of the founders of DuffleBag Theatre.

“Hay River can expect a version of The Three Musketeers they have never seen before,” said Lundgren. “Nobody can say how it will turn out because nobody knows what’s coming next. Things that have never happened in The Three Musketeers will be happening in Hay River.”

DuffleBag started in 1992 when Lundgren was asked to put together a children’s station at a summer festival in London, Ont. He brought out a duffle bag full of costumes and props, and children gathered around.

“It was supposed to last for five days,” recalled Lundgren. “But we were having so much fun. People kept calling to ask if we could come to their schools and festivals. And now we’re entering our 24th season.”

Lundgren said his crew puts on about 650 shows a year, moving across Canada and into other countries. He calls his company “almost world-famous,” because there are a few countries on his list he has yet to visit with his production.

Lundgren’s love for theatre was sparked in Kindergarten, when he was the big brown bear in a school assembly.

“By all reviews, I was amazing,” he laughed. “But I really enjoyed it, and kept doing it through school.”

Through DuffleBag Theatre, Lundgren is able to spark that same interest in the stage for other children.

“When you’re up there doing shows, there is nothing better in the world,” he said. “Our audience actors get to experience that, too. You never know when that spark will go off for someone in the audience. I remember as a kid watching theatre, thinking it was the best job in the world. Now I get to do it.”

Coderre brought DuffleBag Theatre to Yellowknife last season, and is now bringing them back to do a Northern tour. She is hoping to see a packed theatre in Hay River.

“I used to see all the same faces come out to our shows,” she said of the Hay River audience. “Since last year, it has changed. We’ve filled the house much more than a year and a half ago. There are new people in the crowds, and more youth coming out.”

Coderre hopes that a family show like DuffleBag will continue the trend of seeing different people in the audience.

“It’s important to get arts exposure to the kids,” she said. “They can see that they could become a director, an actor, a designer…. There are so many different ways to fit into the arts.”

The show comes to Hay River Riverview Cineplex on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. 

– Diana Yeager