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Step ‘Through The Fairy Circle’ with Kingston’s Storefront Fringe Festival

Pictured top to bottom are James Hyett, Shannon Kingston, and Uri Livne-Bar, who collaborated to bring this adventure fairy tale to life. Submitted photo.

Locally-grown artists Shannon Kingston and James Hyett will debut their new family-centric play Through the Fairy Circle as part of next month’s Storefront Fringe Festival produced by Theatre Kingston.

Through the Fairy Circle is an audio play about Denny, a young girl who lives on an island in an old farmhouse with her father and sister. Unfortunately, the family is currently experiencing a string of bad luck. When Denny meets Femone, a fairy who promises her good luck charms in exchange for her time, she leaps at the opportunity for a magical adventure. But being a fairy’s changeling isn’t what Denny expected, and she must learn to do what’s right to protect her family from bad luck.

Kingston says, “We’ve been wanting to do something at the Kingston Storefront Fringe for a while. We’ve done community theatre in Kingston in high school, and have participated fairly frequently in theatre here. And we really wanted to do something here, as we begin our foray into professional art services and audio drama.”

Hyett is from Glenburnie and Kingston, coincidentally, is from Kingston. The two have known each other since childhood, attending elementary school together. Hyett says, “We really connected in high school [at Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute (KCVI)] because we were into similar things like improv. And Shannon was the improv coach, so we sort of met every week for improv practices in basements.”

“We’re very lucky that we did grow up in the same area and we tend to have a similar artistic aesthetic,” Kingston agrees. The pair both attended the University of Toronto where they met their fellow collaborator and Sound Designer, Uri Livne-Bar.

When the pandemic hit and in-person theatre was no longer an option, the team was inspired to pursue their dream of creating audio work. Told entirely through audio, the descriptions in the play are inspired by the magic of the local rural island landscape. Kingston explains, “The narrator describes the landscape that is figuratively and literally Kingston and Wolfe Island and the islands surrounding Kingston.”

“When it comes to the audio design, Uri is actually located in Toronto,” she continues. “So a challenge for him was making sure that he could evoke this fantasy landscape. He’s done a really wonderful job with finding that source of sounds.  From what I understand, he goes out with his mic, he goes to a river, and literally records the sounds of water.”

Listen to a sample of the Through the Fairy Circle soundtrack ahead of the show. Submitted video.

Kingston points out, “We also did some recording of various instruments that could give us the sounds we were looking for. And he’s really created something special. I think we knew that he knew we could trust them to do this lovely sound design, and he’s created something that sounds both grounded in reality and grounded in nature. It also has this lovely kind of fantasy tune to it and he’s actually created some original compositions for the show, which are so impressive.”

When Kingston began writing the play, she had originally conceived of something more avant-garde, but the two decided this story was best told through the eyes of a child.

Hyett, who has recently toured the province with a group retelling the story of Goldilocks, says “I was just struck by how really special and important theatre for young people is, just telling young people interesting, multi-layered stories that appeal to them, but don’t talk down to them.”

“I think it’s a good play to appeal to all ages,” says Kingston, “but it’s recommended for kids 10 and over,” Kingston explains.

“When I was a kid I loved adventure stories. I love fantasy stories, so something that I’ve really been trying to get back into as an adult is this excitement about magic and things we don’t yet understand — they’re there, but we can’t quite see them yet.

“I think we are joining a very select club of audio dramas that are geared to kids,” Kingston concludes, noting that she hopes that an audio drama will be a good fit for parents looking for screen-free activities for their children this summer.

James, Shannon, and Uri would like to thank the Kingston Storefront Fringe Festival funders, including the Ontario Arts Council, Community Foundation for Kingston& Area, the Kingston Arts Council, and the Kingston Theatre Alliance.

As a digital product that can be streamed any time for the duration of the Storefront Fringe Festival, Through the Fairy Circle is an accessible option for those seeking original and local indie entertainment from home. Streaming is available starting Monday, Aug. 2 at 2 p.m. until Sunday, Aug. 15 at 11:59 p.m. The link can be found on your ticket face after purchase and the virtual audio play can be listened to any time after purchase.

Through The Fairy Circle is just one of nine indie productions available during this year’s Storefront Fringe Festival. To purchase tickets visit The Grand Theatre box office or call 613-530-2050. Single tickets are $19.50, and Festival package pricing is also available.

$10 of the single performance ticket and $9 of each ticket package purchased goes directly into the pockets of the artists.

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