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Wagonstage finds new home at the Calgary Zoo

Drama students combine play and interpreter talks

Drama students Logan Teske, Brandon Huszti, Jacqueline Tran and Bianca Miranda will perform this year's Wagonstage play at the Calgary Zoo.

Wagonstage Children's Theatre produces entertaining, interactive and educational plays for families, written and directed by theatre professionals and performed by drama students of the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.

The program started out in 1971 as a partnership between the City of Calgary and the division of Drama. Every summer until last year, the company toured the city and performed plays in various locations.

This year, Wagonstage is happy to have found a new home at the Calgary Zoo. The new partnership comes with the possibility to try something new.

“You can only have a play performed so many times a day without tiring the actors out. We decided that they would perform the play twice a day and take on other duties that contribute to the zoo's educational programming. For example, the Wagonstage team will be participating in the Calgary Zoo's Dinosaur and Tiger interpreter talks,” says Nicola Elson, who wrote this year’s play There’s a Turtle in My Tub and is a former zoo interpreter herself.

This year’s Wagonstage play is a magic, make-believe story with a nice message about friendship and being brave.

"The zoo already offers an impressive amount of interactive, educational programming that often has a theatrical flair. We didn't want to bring in a product that was too similar so we decided to go in a different direction,” explains Elson.

There’s a Turtle in My Tub tells the story of Mabel, a young girl who discovers a turtle hiding in her bathtub. She makes it her mission to try and get her new friend back home to the ocean.

“There will be puppetry, foley, and many different characters that will appeal to young audiences, but at the same time, there will be a lot of humour and music to entertain the adults,” says Elson.

After the performance, various ocean themed biofacts will be displayed and the actors will be available to answer questions, giving the audience the best of both worlds: they can immerse themselves in their imaginations while watching the story unfold and then take some time to learn about ocean health.

There’s a Turtle in My Tub will be presented at the Calgary Zoo (in the green space between the Kitamba Café and the Rhino enclosure) from July 1 to August 12, Wednesday through Sunday at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Each performance is approx. 25 minutes in length.