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Fly to Treasure Island with the Red Ravens of Crowsnest Pass

Friday, 07 February 2020. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Fly to Treasure Island with the Red Ravens of Crowsnest Pass

Members of the new Red Ravens Performing Arts Society of Crowsnest Pass are getting ready for their first production in just a couple of weeks. Meet the cast of Treasure Island: The British Panto, in costume! In the back row, from left, are Courtney Cann, Cory Schultz, Meghan Davis, Alison Sandilands, Joshua Blondeau, Melissa Graham, Jenna Haugen, Mark McKerracher, Pat Rypien and Jaime Leigh Reeve. In front are Miranda Davis, Hailey Leigh Reeve, Grace Gillespie, Corrine Unrau, Ivy Folkard, Devon Leigh Reeve and Rory Vanderlinden. Missing from photo are Tessa Spain, Krysta MacDonald, Aiden Douglas and director Lisa Attaway.   Photo by Tara-Lynn Fletcher


Fly to Treasure Island with the Red Ravens of Crowsnest Pass


By Jess Harrington 

Pirates, parrots, singing and dancing. Food fights, action, adventure and more!

The Red Ravens Performing Arts Society invites you to its first full production, Treasure Island, Feb. 14-16 at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church hall in Blairmore.

The Red Ravens are an offshoot of the now-defunct Twisted Tree Players, whom you might remember for their productions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease.

This new group formed last August after the Twisted Tree company split. It is a registered non-profit led by two longtime theatre lovers and former Twisted Tree performers, Lisa Attaway and Alison Sandilands.

The Red Ravens take their name from the red velvet curtains associated with old classic theatres, and the birds that some argue should have been the namesake of Crowsnest Pass.

“Yeah, that’s kind of a funny story,” says Lisa Attaway with a chuckle. “I wanted ‘red’ in the name because of those curtains, and Ali wanted there to be something associated with the environment we’re in — but we didn’t want to use ‘crow,’ because everybody does that.

“Then Ali told me how when John Palliser explored the area, he saw the ravens in the area and thought they were crows, then published it in this big journal — and that’s how it ended up being Crowsnest. But it was never crows. So we thought it would be cool to incorporate that [historical] element.”

Treasure Island, the Red Ravens’ first full production, will be done in the style of British pantomime, or panto.

Panto is a classic form of theatre, which Lisa describes as “kind of like if Pixar went on stage.” Pantos are meant to provide entertainment that both kids and their parents can enjoy.

“A lot of it is slapstick and double entendres,” Lisa explains. “So little kids will giggle because you’re having a food fight on stage, and the adults will giggle because it’s spotted dick (a British pudding with a hilarious name) that you’re throwing around the room.”

Role reversal is another classic panto device that delights playgoers of all ages.

“There’s always a guy dressed up as a kind of motherly woman — the panto dame — and the lead male is normally a woman, which just makes it really fun,” says Lisa.

Without giving too much away, she shares that their panto dame may wear a luminous orange gown with polka-dot sleeves and a rainbow wig in one scene. Or a few.

Lisa says the Ravens picked a panto for their first play specifically because they hope people of all ages will join their audience — and their cast.

Treasure Island will feature the talents of 20 performers, ranging from age 10 to senior.

Lisa, who is directing the panto as well as helping run the Red Ravens, says it’s been a thrill to work with such a diverse cast, and notes that the company will always try to welcome as many people as is reasonable to their casts.

This is because the Red Ravens’ aim is to be as community-minded as possible, which means doing all they can to make theatre accessible to viewers and performers of all stripes.

They also aspire to be transparent and ethical in all their dealings and to give back to the community wherever they can, Lisa says.

On this last point, each night of the Treasure Island run, the Ravens will auction off signed Jolly Roger flags, in support of a local family trying to raise funds for renovations that will allow their son with cerebral palsy to function better in his home.

The Red Ravens team are excited to bring their first performance to life, and even more excited to see where their company will go in the future.

They hope that, over time, the Ravens will become a community staple, as the entire team believes that grassroots theatre offers something important.

“The big thing I find is that there are a lot of supports for things like sports and academics, but if your passion is outside of that, often there isn’t any outlet for you,” says Lisa.

“What community theatre offers is an outlet, so even if you’re not very good at sports or English or maths, you have somewhere you can express that love and joy and passion, and that can help you cope with whatever is going on in your life, because you have something that can just make you smile.”

To learn more about the group, like and follow Red Ravens PAS on Facebook.

Tickets for Treasure Island can be purchased at Servus Credit Union in Coleman, at Pincher Office Products and via e-transfer to info@RedRavensPAS.com.