Spirit Walk's calling, Sept. 26-28 at the St. Williams Forestry Station

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Spirit Walk, a celebration of Norfolk’s nature through theatre, is nearing its three-night presentation.

A series of four weekend workshops, from July 20 through to this coming Sept. 7-8 weekend at the school in St. Williams, have been building up to a series of Spirit Walk outdoor productions on Sept. 26, 27 and 28, starting at 6:30 p.m. each night at the St. Williams Forestry Station.

“Everybody is meeting at the Forestry Station interpretive centre, and we’ll take a trail walk,” said Bernie Solymar, executive director of Nature’s Calling Environmental Education, and a ‘part-time’ actor. “It’s just west of the corner of Hwy 24 and Forestry Farm Road. There’s signs on the road. The actual production happens on about a 3/4 km hike.”

The free workshops involve stilt-walking, masks, puppets (including giant ones), lanterns, costume and prop-making, music, acting, training, rehearsals, and more – all led by Shadowland Theatre and local artists and naturalists – done at the school in St. Williams.

“It’s been very interactive and a lot of fun,” said Solymar. “And we’re having another workshop this weekend.”

The final workshops before rehearsals will be Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The workshops are free, Solymar stressed, and everyone 12-and-older is invited.

“The more we have, the merrier. There’s roles for everybody – developing costumes, doing paper mache puppets, stilt-walking, lantern-making, sewing of costumes… there’s all kinds of needs and we can put everybody to work.

“Rehearsals for the actual production will be taking place the 23rd, 24th and 25th.”

The focus of the project is the relationship we have with our natural heritage, local flora and fauna, and stewardship.

For the Spirit Walk production, the audience will be taken on a journey through the woods where a story unfolds: a little girl, wrapped up in today's electronic world, finds herself lost in the woods.

“Her parents want her to get outside and get away from all her electronic stuff,” said Solymar. “She runs into the woods and gets lost. In the woods, she meets a series of different animals that teach her all about the outdoors, species at risk, monarch migration, and other nature-related tidbits. In a very simple manner.”

The girl comes to appreciate and love the outdoors, and is eventually cured of her ‘nature deficit disorder.’

“At the end there’s a big production with music and lanterns, and she’s learned to love nature and isn’t afraid of the night anymore.

“It’s all done with a lot of theatrical aspects and props.”

Spirit Walk should appeal to people of all ages, said Solymar.

“We’re expecting families… and families are going to have a lot of fun at it. We’ve also had a lot of interest from people like the Norfolk Field Naturalist members. I think we’re going to get a nice representation from the community.”

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