Jerry Etienne could be forgiven if he has an identity crisis this summer. Outside of his role teaching in the Grenfell Campus theatre school, he has written an original theatre piece and is playing no less than four characters in one play. Both projects are on the schedule of events celebrating the City of Corner Brook's 60th anniversary.
Etienne believes you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story and his original theatre piece weaves fact with fiction to create Corner Brook's first ghost walk. In partnership with the Stage West Theatre Festival, the mobile performance tells ghostly tales of an apparition with beautiful blue eyes, organs mysteriously playing in a basement and the legend of the lights at the old hospital. "You might not think it's true he said, but after you've heard the story I dare you to go and look in one of the windows at the O'Connell Centre after dark," he said.
To gather the stories, he and his writing partner Pamela Gill put a call out on Facebook and contacted people they'd heard had stories. They also read books of Newfoundland ghost stories.
The show will run throughout July and takes the audience on a walking tour through downtown Corner Brook after dark, starting at the O'Connell Centre with stops that include the Glynmill Inn Pond and West Street. Grenfell theatre graduate Jacob Bradbury will narrate the stories.
As an actor, Etienne will be starring alongside Rachel Joffred in a Theatre Newfoundland Labrador production called "Short's Long Day." The show tells the story of a crazy and eventful day in the life of a police officer in Corner Brook in the 1940s based on the book The West Siders by Tom Finn. Between them, Etienne and Joffred play 10 characters.
"You have to do all the work that an actor does more than once," Etienne said. That includes understanding the background and life story behind what your character is saying on stage and figuring out where your character sits in relation to the other characters. Physicality, vocal traits and intention are all tools used to differentiate between characters. "You're not wearing a mask, so you have to find something visually or vocally to make them different," he said. "It's really quite fun to find a way to jump back and forth in a way that's believable for the audience."
City of Corner Brook
Stage West Theatre Festival
Theatre Newfoundland & Labrador
Pamela Gill (editor on the ghost walk project)
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Throughout the semester we will highlight some of the interesting research taking place at Grenfell Campus. The articles will appear here, and will be compiled on the research webpage.
Article prepared by Ali Johnston