Discover the magic of The Wilds at the Sid

March 6, 2024

In the heart of theatrical wonder lies a place where masks come to life, emotions dance and whimsy intermingles with profound themes – welcome to The Wilds.

An enchanting performance featuring full face masks and amazing puppetry in which stories unfold without words, the Sid Williams Theatre Society is delighted to present this WONDERHEADS Theatre Company production on Monday, March 25, as part of their Blue Circle Series.

When a man discovers his wife has vanished from the backyard, he must venture into the nearby forest. Confronted with shifting landscapes and unusual creatures, he will have to unlock the forest’s mysteries to find his wife and bring her home. Imagination reigns supreme as the audience follows a fantastical journey through the wilderness in this award-winning show.

“At its core, The Wilds is a love story, though it kind of tells two stories at the same time,” says Kate Braidwood, co-founding artistic director. “On its face, it’s the tale of a man going on this adventure through the woods – that’s what our younger audience members take away. But underneath that, it also touches on scenes of grief, loss and hope. And that’s what our adult audience members pick up on. While we hope everyone experiences a sense of empathy, wonder and joy, depending on your age, you take different things away from the show.”

Braidwood and her husband and co-founding artistic director Andrew Phoenix are the visionary minds behind the company. They met during a master’s program at a school in California that focusses on physical theatre and the creation of original productions. Together they have crafted a work that not only transcends age barriers but also is a deeply personal endeavour, driven by their own thoughts on mortality.

“All our shows are original productions, meaning we write, direct and create them ourselves. So when we create a show, it usually comes from a question that we’re asking ourselves at that point in our lives,” says Braidwood. “As we are getting older, the realities of aging are starting to sink in for us. That’s really what launched us into creating this show. It’s kind of imagining what may happen as we continue to age.”

While critics have been hailed it as “captivating” and “nothing short of exceptional,” the path to realizing their vision was not without its bumps. As a company rooted in full face mask performance, integrating puppetry marked a departure from the norm.

“This was our first deep dive into puppetry…so we were sort of making some stuff up and trying some concepts out. Some of them really worked in the creation process and some of them failed miserably. It was sort of a crash course in puppetry techniques because there are so many different styles of puppetry in the show. So that was both a challenge and a joy.”

Central to WONDERHEADS’ appeal is the uniqueness of their genre.

“There’s only a handful of companies in the world that specialize in this very specific style of full face mask…it’s kind of one that you have to see to believe. People comment all the time about it seeming like the masks come alive with emotion, even though they are static structures.”

The masks donned by the performers are crafted from paper mâché – an underappreciated medium according to Braidwood.

“I feel like paper mâché kind of gets a bad wrap, like it’s a middle-school craft project. But I find it a fabulous material to work with for masks. It’s really strong and also lightweight.” Something that is appreciated by the actors.

“It's a very physical and challenging form of theatre and can also be quite technical because you’re wearing a mask that can get pretty hot and your vision is quite limited. So the physical acumen that’s required for the work is quite high.”

In addition to the striking masks, audiences are greeted by an original musical soundtrack composed by the band, The Singer and The Songwriter. Together with precisely curated sound effects, the auditory landscape helps bring the wordless production to life.

Between the masks and the music, Braidwood says the audience will be moved.

“It’s a bit on the nose, but I would say the number one emotional reaction we get is wonder. We really love evoking a sense of awe in our audience. When one of our characters walks out on stage for the first time, you can kind of feel the audience lean in a little bit and have a little bit of a gasp of wonder. Because there’s something about the style that sort of opens up people’s hearts and imaginations in a different way.”

As they embark on their latest tour, The Wilds by WONDERHEADS promises to enchant and inspire audiences. To experience the magic of human imagination and the power of theatrical wonder, order tickets today.

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