Aerialists and archery and sword fights — oh my!
Get ready for the spectacle that will be the world première of The Silver Arrow: The Untold Story of Robin Hood by Mieko Ouchi. Featuring a cast and creative team of 29 artists who participated in the Citadel/Banff Centre Professional Theatre Program, The Silver Arrow is a new all-ages twist on the classic tale of Robin Hood featuring a diverse cast, a differently-abled female protagonist, archery, aerial acrobatics, and music by Hawksley Workman.
Mieko Ouchi has been working on The Silver Arrow since the Citadel’s Artistic Director Daryl Cloran approached her about working on an all-ages adventure story in late 2016. After brainstorming what that adventure story could look like, the two landed on a modern twist on Robin Hood. Mieko says, Robin Hood appealed to them because “it hasn’t been explored as much as other family stories… It was untouched, which was exciting and it had the potential for stage fighting and archery. I also related the arguments Robin Hood puts forward to the Bernie Sander’s arguments – is it fair that the rich have everything and should there be more equality amongst the classes? In a strange way, the story has relevant resonance for us now if we can find a way into it so that it feels relevant to us again. I thought that was an exciting place to start.”
Mieko has rebooted Robin Hood’s familiar characters with fresh twists and a steampunk approach, saying “it’s anachronistic and allows us to explore things that are ahead of their time, which gives us a lot of freedom to layer things in with a wink and a nod and let audiences enjoy those things. There are all kinds of things that are ahead of their time in the play. They’re a progressive bunch for medieval England, which I think is part of the fun.”
Casting Kristi Hansen as Maid Bina Fitzooth, the main character, was key to the play’s development, including Mieko and Daryl’s desire to showcase a non-traditional hero for the adventure story. “We don’t have a lot of heroines on stage who are differently abled and I thought this would be a fun way to give audiences a way to see that… At the beginning of the show, Bina is a character who society sees as a problem, someone who should be hidden away and throughout the story, she finds her confidence and her voice and her tribe. She comes out of her shell and gets to experience life in its wholeness. I think that’s a neat journey for her and for audiences.”
With the theatre-in-the-round style and vertical space that the MacLab Theatre provides, Mieko and Daryl (who directs the show) were excited to animate the entire playing space. “From really early on we wanted the show to be immersive and make audiences feel like they’re part of a 3D experience and have the actors use the entire space, especially the vertical space of the MacLab which is amazing space that isn’t used to its full capacity very often.”
Key to the animation of the space is the aerial acrobatics, directed by Firefly Theatre‘s Annie Dugan, and Jonathan Purvis’ fight choreography. Mieko mentions “There are some pretty thrilling fights in the show.”
The Silver Arrow will also feature music by Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman, who met with Mieko for about 10 days last October to compose the music. The Citadel has released The Silver Arrow theme song “So You Think You Know Robin Hood”, which hints at what can be expected from the music in the rest of the show.