World’s the limit for theatrical duo

January 3, 2016

When I was gathering news (Don’t you love this expression? It is as if getting news stories is like going out into the bush and picking mushrooms or stepping into the backyard garden to get some beans to go into the stir fry? Many people — let me tell you– do not believe doing news stories to be that idyllic or good for you.) on the Pender Islands, I was surprised at the high level of theatrical talent there because the population is quite small.

I think, though, that the talent (and I know I risk being strung up for saying this was, and maybe still is better than on Salt Spring Island.

Here is a story of two talented Pender Islands thespians:

Gulf Islands Driftwood– Penders Edition

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

World’s the limit for theatrical duo

by Tanya Lester

For Jacqueline Dandeneau and partner David Ferney the world is a stage, and they have been strutting across it with energetic professionalism for the last 15 years.

The local couple’s most recent escapade took them to Oregon, California and Australia over the winter with their original play called Help Wanted.

Rich in slapstick, the two-person show has a sort of Laurel and Fardy flavour to it with a storyline about a couple who decide to quit their jobs in search of better ones.

In tow with the couple was their one-year-old “sidekick” Amelia who puts the three in their Three on the Tree theatre production company.

No stranger to the theatre herself, young Amelia accompanied her mother in-utero while Dandeneau hoofed across the stage during her pregnancy in places like Bali.

(Dandeneau played roller hockey on the Penders until she was four months’ pregnant.)

At four months of age, Amelia was cuddled in the arms of babysitters late last fall in theatres and hall across the Gulf Islands while Dandeneau performed her hilarious, very physical one-woman show, Cast Me Off.

“In the hot hands of an actor and writer as skilled as Dandeneau, we happily melted like a chunk of sweet ice cream,” raved reviewer Gail Sjuberg in the Driftwood at the time. “…If there was any loose thread of doubt about Dandeneau’s acting range, it had to be sewn up when near the end she became an 82-year-old woman gingerly stepping into her gumboots and heading out for her daily swim in the ocean.”

Cast Me Off featured characters modelled after the many “types” that inhabit the Penders and other Gulf Islands. This is where Dandeneau, formerly from Alberta, and Ferney, an ex-Californian, decided to make their home base away from the urban rat race four years ago.

Settling down took place after they chased themselves around the world for a year following their first meeting at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 1995.

In 1996, Dandeneau set out on a world tour with the Full Figure TheatreCompany that she founded in Vancouver. Ferney set off from his base in San Francisco, to do Europe as a member of a comic acrobatic group.

The two have visited every continent except Africa. Ferney names Vlieland, an island off Holland, as being the most memorable place in which he has performed. His troupe did theatre in a sand dune on the island frequented by campers in the summertime.

Ferney explained that it is one of fives islands that are smaller than the Gulfo Islands.

This brings the story back to why Dandeneau and Ferney have chosen the Penders for their base. It was Dandeneau’s brother Dave Dandeneau who introduced them to the islands.

Here, they can stay in a nicer house at a more affordable cost than in an urban dwelling. They have also discovered that they can be more creatively versatile in a smaller centre than they could be in the city.

Both want to do as much as possible on the Penders so they can spend more time at home. In a supportive community, the two have spearheaded as such projects as the dynamic lantern festival that helped bring in the new millennium on January 1.

Beginning with a lantern workshop at the school, a parade of lantern-laden Penderites went down to Magic Lake where there was a boat display with fireworks going off overhead.

There will be a repeat performance next New Year’s Eve with an added sideline of puppets and stilts.

Another islands tour of Cast Me Off is in the works for October as well as a play that will utilize the masks Ferney learned how to make two winters ago when they were in Bali.

The couple will also bring shows over from the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Then, on October 10, they will host singer-songwriter Patty Larkin.

First up are their shadow puppet performances and islands versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, along with The Three Little Pigs, that will be performed at the August 26 Fall Fair.

Dandeneau said the Goldilocks version takes a humorous look at a rash of break-ins in which the perpetratorsmerely ate the food and slept in the cabins they entered without stealing anything.

The Three Little Pigs will poke fun at the building inspector and building code regulations.

Dandeneau feels very at home in her theatrical career. “Acting is like putting on a shirt that’s really comfortable.”

When on tour, both depend on the universal language of movement across the stage to communicate with other cultures.

Touring the world is “an amazing thing for opening your mind,” Dandeneau said. “If you go outside your space, you come home and appreciate what you’ve got.”

On returning, you find “your crockpot filled with ideas.”

— END–

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