Recently our theatre group, Solo, flew to Ottawa, Canada for a Theater exchange with Once Upon a Kingdom Theatre. During the exchange we took many tours around Ottawa, tried Canadian cuisine, took many master classes, improved as actors, and made new friends and lots of memories. I benefited greatly from this exchange and would do it again any time. It helped me improve as an actor through many different master classes and through the feedback from my peers. It also gave us a chance to show our play, The Flying Ship, outside of U.S. borders, and a chance to see OUK’s play, The Magic Paintbrush.  I think this exchange was the greatest acting experience I’ve had, and so far one of my greatest life experiences. I know for a fact that any theater would love to take part in such a creative exchange.

In Canada, we saw OUK’s play, The Magic Paintbrush. It was about a storytelling artist who has a magic paintbrush and uses it to paint a fairytale kingdom, only to have it stolen by the kingdom’s unofficial evil queen. Then the storyteller artist goes on a quest to get it back with the help of some of the kingdom’s peasants and the invisible princess. I really liked this play because of its creativity. I thought it was cool how they interpreted the invisible princess by using optical illusions to make her move around chairs and wigs and paintbrushes.

It also occurred to me that the doors are painted to represent the personality traits of the characters that use them. One thing I didn’t understand was the scene where the king leaves with the princess to her room. It wasn’t clear to me if she was supposed to be closing the door or if it was supposed to be the king. There were also some small details that are unclearbut they aren’t really important. Overall, I thought it was a very good play and would definitely watch it again.

The Magic Paintbrush wasn’t the only play we saw during the exchange. We also saw the play Up to Low (directed by Janet Irwin), which is a comedic drama taking place in the 1950s about a family that goes up to the Canadian town, Low, for a vacation. However, the main character (Tommy) is destined to see the love of his life, baby Bridgett. The play takes you on an adventure with Tommy, His dad, and his dad’s crazy alcoholic friend Frank to the town Low. This was also a very good play. It had many unique features, like the fact that characters would switch from 1st to 3rd person and speak simultaneously, and that the music/ sound effects were not only live, but also were made by things other than instruments.

The play also had very good character build up, but like any other play there was a flaw. Sometimes, during scenes when they would use humans as part of the set decorations, it would get very confusing. One scene I remember was when some of the actors they were props, but then started narrating so it kind of confused me. Overall the play was very good; it was funny, sad, and happy all at the same time.

My favorite parts of this trip, however, were definitely the plays our groups presented and the discussion after them. That was the part of the trip that gave me a chance to hear my peers’ opinions; I really liked The Magic Paintbrush and hearing people’s opinions about The Flying Ship. This part of the exchange really helped me improve as an actor, and also gave me a chance to give my opinions about theater. So, in conclusion, I would say that the Theater exchange was a memorable experience for everybody that was a part of it, including myself.

Ilia, age 12, Solo Theater School  (Atlanta, GA)