I’d rather not drive on a day when the weather predictions call for heavy snowstorm. But we had already bought the tickets and it would have taken a lot to make us miss this unique performance. We left Kamloops by 6pm, aiming to arrive before 8pm when the show started. Near Armstrong, that is.
You may have guessed already that we were going to see a rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker by the Caravan Farm Theatre (the performance director was Manon Beaudoin.) A close friend saw one of the theatre’s performances last year and was charmed. She advised us to go if we have the chance. We knew the story but past that, we had no idea what to expect other than the fact that spectators were to be in horse-drawn sleighs for part of the show.
It was snowing when we left Kamloops and it snowed the whole way. Other than a fast driving semi near Monte Lake which barely managed to get in front of another semi as the road was becoming one-lane (!), the drive was uneventful. The snow kept falling: it snowed as we were sipping apple cider waiting for the show to begin, and it snowed as we watched the first scene, transfixed by the vibrant jocularity of Drosselmeyer.
It snowed as we went to find our teamster and climbed aboard the sleigh. The snow kept on falling and the horses were excited to get going. I later understood why: we followed a beautiful path through the trees to see the rest of the show and everything about it was magical. The lights, the jolly and quirky characters, the group of strangers gathered to see it all, everyone smiling and laughing as snowflakes kept coming. There was music and air ballet, and beautiful singing, and the snowfall added a whimsical air to it all.
I know why I like it so much and I always will. Because I grew up with stories. My Dad delighted many snowy winter days (and not only) with stories of his childhood, which he called ‘true stories.’ My sister and I were as joyful as can be listening and imagining the people and the places my Dad was telling us about. Then there were the many live performances I was fortunate to see along the way. My Mom took us to see a few operas and the immersion was complete and unforgettable.
Sure, we can now find just about anything on screens nowadays. But. There is something unique about a live performance, be it music of all kinds, plays, or the good old storytelling humans are so fond of and have been for a long time. May we never give that up.
If there is one thing we can do for our children (and ourselves) it is to hold on to what live performances and storytelling are about. Tell stories to your kids, reading from a book or inventing them on the spot, go see artists who are committed to their craft and can take you on the wings of magic all the way to where you can be a kid again, or simply forget about everything that troubles you – even for a bit. It’s a connection with ourselves and with other people that holds us all in a space that’s unique and necessary.
The Nutcracker had that miraculous touch; the tingle that makes you wonder what’s next, wishing that it will keep on going because you can’t easily let go. That the snowfall added to the magic is no wonder.
When the show ended, we made our way home on the snowy roads, driving slowly until we reached safer ground (a less snowy main highway.) We concluded that the treacherous drive was worth it. For the sake of wondrous winter storytelling, you know.