|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Theatrical people troupe to St. Thomas
By Karena Walter
The theatre troupe "Up With People" is bringing its musical production to the London area this week with 11 tonnes of equipment in tow.
The troupe is dedicated to singing, travelling and entertaining people around the world. The 170 cast members, aged 17-25, are from 24 different countries and were introduced to each other this past July.
In every city Up With People visits, it recruits interested students to spend a year travelling with one of the five touring groups. Auditions are not necessary to be a member, but there is a personality interview and requirement of being 17-25 years old, a high school graduate, in good health and able to commit one year to the troupe. Usually, about 5,000 people apply for the 750 spots.
Yasmin Abidi heard of the group when she was a first-year student at Western and remembers being interested in theatre and travel when she graduated in 1992. "I was looking for something that could incorporate all those things." She signed up and travelled from July 1994-95 and still maintains contact with many of the people she met through the group.
"By far, the closest friends I have are through that program," says David Brock, a Help Desk Consultant at Western's Information Technology Services who travelled with the program from 1989-92. "You're with these people for the better part of the day. Like it or not, you're going to get to know them."
During their travels, the group will perform in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and will be the first Up With People group to visit Slovakia. The Dec. 6 and 7 shows in St. Thomas are their last before a four-week break. They will then reconvene in Florida.
Of course, there is a price for all this. Tuition is $13,700 US and includes food, shelter and transportation. Scholarships are available and fund-raisers and corporations help to take care of some costs.
The two-hour musical, The Festival, was rehearsed in Denver and incorporates many of the different native languages of the players and several styles of music like rock, rap and country. "Every song hits people in different ways," says Watson.
The Festival runs Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. at Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas. Tickets are $10 for students/seniors and $15 for adults and can be purchased from Centennial Hall.