What do you picture when you think of the element of air? Birds? Kites? Fairies? Scarves swirling? A sea breeze rushing through your hair? or a gale bending the tops of trees? Stone and Sky’s finalé production, “Tranquilité” captured all these aspects and more.
The 45 min production was broken into six acts, which incorporated acting, poetry, dance, and music. First came a troupe of playful fairies who romped with golden kites to the sounds of gurgling bubbles, emanating from an inventive auditory device designed by Trevor Malcolm. The fairies climbed on multiple levels on the rock face, hanging these glittering ornaments where they could flutter in the wind, while mischievously teasing each other and the audience. These fairies were an absolute joy, capturing the childlike energy of a spring breeze, and setting the tone for the whole show.
As the fairies disappeared into the lush greenery surrounding the quarry, a trumpeter materialized on the upper level. From here he let out a merry tune, as if to salute the sun as it began its descent in the sky. Cued by the trumpeter, the rest of the 5 piece brass band, seated in the upstage corner of the quarry began to play. The marvelous score, composed by Windsor local Michael Stone rang out with a clear sound that filled the quarry, without the use of artificial amplification of any kind.
Next, Malcolm returned onstage for a poetic recitation. He delivered the piece, “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats, twice over. The first time so quickly that the audience had to grapple to take in the words and the second so slowly that the words melting into organic sounds. An apt delivery for a poem that muses on the nature of time, and an apt setting for nostalgic remembrances of Arcadian bliss.
In the proceeding act, the score began to take a slower, more melodic tone. As the band played a slow march, birds began to emerge, masterfully embodied by HNM Dance Company. Two blue herons and three snowy egrets in all, a tribute to our own Pelee wildlife! They waddled and preened themselves, then soared across the stage, in an equally comical and awe-inspiring episode.
In a brief interlude between movements, Malcolm and the fairies re-entered to create the sound of a rainstorm with the audience’s help. They started with the gentle pitter-patter of a light drizzle created by rubbing their hands together, and let it grow into a downpour of stomping feet, with thunder booming from the fairies knocking on the surface of the upstage risers. It was a fun interactive activity, and seemed to have the effect of warding away the last of the real storm clouds that had been threatening all afternoon.
As the sound of the storm finally tapered off, the dancers whooshed in again, capturing with their movement the momentum of a warm summer gust, that takes the edge off a humid day. At this point, they had changed into costumes of brilliant blue, that popped against the grey of the quarry wall. One was reminded of sailing, in Lake Erie perhaps, with the sail full and wind whipping through your hair.
Eventually, the dancers left the stage and the music became melancholy, as if reflecting on the inevitability of the changing seasons. After several minutes of lilting music the dancers returned, this time bearing silk flags of yellow and gold. They leapt and twirled with these ribbons, as if waving farewell to a waning summer, and the Stone and Sky season, their movements augmenting the steady pace of the musicians, suffusing the score with the spirit of hope.
By the end of the performance, the audience was a sea of open mouths and alighted eyes. Thus, the audience left well-fed on gourmet grilled cheese (courtesy of Artworks), well entertained, and a little more attuned to the natural world. Thanks to everyone who came out to the Stone and Sky season this year, and we hope to see you at the harvest fair next Saturday.