Pacamambo at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Pacamambo at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Photo credit: Giselle Boehm

Pacamambo at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Photo credit: Giselle Boehm

Pacamambo by Wajdi Mouawad
August 11 – 20 at The Roxy on Gateway
More information: cardiactheatre.ca


An interview with Harley Morison.

Describe your show in five words.

Playful, dark, joyful, warm & uplifting!

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Pacamambo tells the story of nine-year-old Julie whose grandmother dies during a sleepover. Armed with a backpack full of perfume bottles and her beleaguered dog, Julie holds a nineteen-day vigil in the basement with her grandmother’s body. Julie passes the time by remembering her grandmother’s stories about Pacamambo, “the country where you become the people you love.” Her plan: Julie is going to wait for Death to come and see his handiwork, and then she is going to punch him in the face. Dark, energetic, and sometimes silly, Pacamambo is an adventure about how we say goodbye to those we love most.

Can you tell us a bit more about “Pacamambo”, “the country where you become the people you love”?

“Pacmambo” is a story Julie’s grandmother told her before she died. She believed in a land of universal empathy where, when you die, you become everyone in order to achieve a state of total empathy. It’s a paradise away from this world of intolerance and hate, one where we can all live peacefully because we understand and accept one another entirely.

Pacamambo explores death and what it means to say goodbye to those we love most. As you’ve worked on this show, what ideas and themes on this topic have come through most clearly to you?

Probably the largest idea we’ve talked about are the ways kids grieve and how, for them, grief can be an isolating experience. Empathy is something we develop throughout childhood, so when young kids go through the loss of a loved one, it’s difficult for them to understand that they’re not the only ones impacted. A large part of Pacamambo is about learning to empathize, and how grieving can be a healthy, communal experience rather than a scary quest that everyone has to deal with by themselves.

I remember from an earlier conversation with Harley that the goal of Cardiac Theatre is to bring new audiences out to theatre. How will you accomplish that with Pacamambo?

Pacamambo is about a girl’s relationship with her grandmother, so there’s a very strong intergenerational thread throughout the play. We’re hoping to get grandparents and their grandchildren out to see the show as this show will be particularly resonant for those folks.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Pacamambo, while about something pretty horrific, is a really fun & uplifting play; a great tonic for negative energy, and a discussion-starter about young people dealing with loss.

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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