contributed by R. Edmundson
The Dorothy Project, Little Onion’s newest show for adults, will be touring Kamloops, Vancouver, and Calgary this spring!
The back story behind the creation of this show is unique and touching. Performers Susan Dixon and Randi Edmundson are a mother and daughter duo.
In 1995 and 1996, Susan and her sister took care of their mother who was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Unable to speak frankly about the disease in front of their mother, they kept a daily journal together.
Now, 20 years later, Susan and her daughter Randi are bringing the journal to life on the stage with all of its raw, emotional twists and turns. The Dorothy Project lends insight into the disease of Alzheimer’s: the challenges, the heartbreak, and the power of love.
The performance has not come to fruition without the help of the community of Kamloops. Little Onion Puppet Co. has teamed up with the Kamloops branch of the Alzheimer Society, where Susan has been a long-time support group facilitator, to bring seniors and their caregivers into the creation process.
Through story-sharing circles, feedback sessions, and puppetry workshops, seniors and caregivers have been a large part of the development of the show.
Daughter Randi Edmundson has been performing across the province as a puppeteer
for the last eight years. Her show for young audiences, Freddie in the Neighbourhood , was created with the help of grade three students in Vancouver and was recently presented by Western Canada Theatre.
Susan Dixon has spent the last 20 years volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Society of BC
and works locally as a costume designer.
Director Melissa Purcha, a local Kamloops favourite, is best known for her work as Artistic Director of Project X Theatre.
I asked Randi what she has gained through the experience of working with her mom on the project, given the emotional gravity of the subject matter:
“It’s been a wonderful experience so far. I didn’t have much of a chance to get to know my Grandma Dorothy, so it’s been such a gift to learn about her through my mother’s eyes. But the loss is also present in the process, which has been a little more difficult to visit.
As for my Mom and I, it’s been interesting crafting this story together. We both have different things we want to say with the material, so we’ve had to figure out where we meet in the middle. It’s definitely making our relationship stronger!
This is the first time I have worked on something so personal, which has some unique challenges as a performer. It’s been a little trickier to feel each moment as though it’s the first time, since I am actively working through the feelings I experience in the show.
For my mother, though she has public speaking experience, she hasn’t really done anything quite like this. We threw her into the deep end with lines and movement to learn, but she is doing extremely well.
For me, one of the most special things that I have gained through this experience, apart from getting to know my grandmother and my mother in completely new ways, is the exploration of found object puppetry we do in the show.
Found object puppetry is puppetry with everyday things, things that you wouldn’t think of as puppets, like utensils, clothing, etc. We use Dorothy’s actual belongings as found object puppets in the show, which gives her a unique voice in the story. As an artist, I find that very satisfying.” – R.E.
contributed by R. Edmundson
The Little Onion Puppet Co. is dedicated to the development of quality puppet theatre in Vancouver and British Columbia. With a focus on engaging the public in a meaningful way in puppet theatre creation, we strive to make puppetry exciting and accessible for adult and young audiences.