‘In Winter’ one of many student performances during Taking Flight festival

 This April, third-year theatre major Britt Babott will be presenting her first work as a playwright as part of Taking Flight — a festival of student works at the University of Calgary.

Babott’s “In Winter” is a show for young audiences about a valley where the stars get stolen, until a girl ventures out to return them.

The playwright says the idea for the show came to her over the span of seven months.

“Even though the show was created by me, it was influenced, shaped and fueled by the performers, designers and friends I had around for the process,” says Babott.

She’s interested in children because of their curiosity, imagination and desire to explore things.

While she says she likes every kind of theatre, she wanted to direct this play towards young audiences.

“I find the work really beautiful and engaging, and there is something wonderful in being able to see work done for younger audiences and still be able to be so moved by it,” she says.

“I wanted to imitate these experiences for myself and see if I could do something so challenging.” Erin and Olivia, members of the “In Winter” crew, setting up a rehearsal game.
Photo by: Britt Babott

Artistic director Val Campbell says shows for young audiences are the exception to the norm in the Taking Flight festival.

The purpose of the show however, is to allow students to incorporate a variety of skills while producing their original content.

“It’s a chance for them to practice their craft, whatever that may be — acting, directing, playwriting, designing — in a way where they have a lot of autonomy and independence,” Campbell says.

“The faculty and technical support production staff are there to support them but it’s really their show.”

While Babott admits that “In Winter” wasn’t created specifically for the festival, she recognizes that the festival is beneficial since it features student work and provides a venue for shows like her own.

Taking Flight is in its eighth season, and runs from March 27 to April 7.

The Taking Flight website says the festival offers a wide diversity in its presentations.

“Selections range from staged readings by graduate student playwrights and performance creation pieces to complete productions of one-act plays by some of the world’s most respected playwrights.”

This year, the shows include: “Eurydice,” a modern re-telling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus; “Mating Season,” a musical about a manatee’s fight for love; and Babott’s production “In Winter.”

Babott says she is trying to appeal to not only younger audiences but also their families.

She likes the idea of “creating work that is intriguing enough for most ages to enjoy.”

Although she doesn’t have any specific plans for the future, her experience with Taking Flight inspired her to continue writing plays.

She even chose a name under which to produce her work.

“I picked a producing name for the show, La Petit Theatre Prairie, and I think creating under this name will happen in the future.”

slugo@cjournal.ca