Take a world in peril, run a current of science fiction through it, and then run it through the fairy tale machine. Those are the key elements for the fantastic new production, “Greensleep, a Fairy Tale for the End of Days”, coming to Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham from April 26 – May 4.  

It’s the brainchild of playwright Kelley Jo Burke, no stranger to Dancing Sky goers. Her inspired creation “The Curst,” based on Regina band Library Voices dubbed the unluckiest band in Canada, drew rave reviews last summer.  

Kelley Jo Burke Eric Eggertson.jpg Playwright Kelley Jo Burke. Photo - Eric Eggertson 

This year’s offering by Burke, Dancing Sky artistic director Angus Ferguson, and the talented cast and crew leans into the timely world of apocalyptic anxiety with a fantasy laden and imaginative bent.  

Burke admits a predilection for starting with the ending. 

“It starts out where you think things are kind of done for our planet, so it has a ‘science-fictiony’ feel. Then something magical happens instead, and slowly, the sterile ‘doneness’ of things gets eaten by this very green fairy tale.” 

Kelly Jo says to add to the flavour of the piece, Harvest Hall, home to the theatre troupe, is decked out in every shade of leafy greenery imaginable. Given the recent winter outburst, it’ll be a welcome sight for lovers of spring.  

The play came about as a bit of a commission piece by Ferguson who was fascinated with an environmental story in which the natural world wasn’t the setting – rather, it was a character. The two-fold answer came to Burke, and the new creation was off and running.  

“The answer was music and puppets,” Burke offered. “But figurative puppets. It’s the natural world moving and behaving with the assistance of puppeteers.” 

Enter Crispi Lord, longtime Dancing Sky collaborator and master puppeteer. Crispi leaped into the project as cast member, set designer and principal puppeteer to help Kelly Jo and Angus realize a stunning vision of what was possible, all presented live to an audience.  

“We have wonderful music provided by Edith Rattary that actually represents the natural world’s response. Everything in the world sings – trees sing, plants sing, insects sing to one another, coyotes call to one another – everything sings.” 

Kyle Kuchirka Britainy Zapshalla.jpg Kyle Kuchirka caught in the fairytale world of Greensleep. Photo - Britainy Zapshalla.

Given the overtones of a world in distress, on the edge of demise, one could mistake the tone of the piece as dark and foreboding, but that’s not the case, Burke maintains. While admitting to “having taken despair out for a walk to see how it sits” in earlier years, she says that the creation of “Greensleep” has been enlightening. 

“When I started working on this play and wanting to talk about how the natural world responds to challenges, it doesn’t respond with despair, ever. It responds with starting again. Rebirth is the nature of the world, and it’s also baked right into the myths and fairy tales we’ve been telling each other for thousands of years. The heart of most of the stories we tell each other are about rebirth.” 

The play is perfectly poised for a spring entrance when the beauty of the natural world emerges as a course of the changing seasons. For more details on the production and links to tickets, head to dancingskytheatre.com.