The Warmth of Rural Academy Theater

The Rural Academy Theater Show Summary by Intern Kimmie

On Sunday, October 18th, 2015, I attended a show by The Rural Academy Theater. The show was located on Stafford Commons, which is the field right behind Talley Student Union. There were two caravans parked on the grass along with multiple bales of hay and a few chairs for the performers to sit in. Alongside the caravans, the group marked off a section of Stafford Commons so that four large horses could graze on grass and hay. The horses and location of the caravans brought an incredible amount of attention to the event because students would see it as they were walking by or going to Talley. The students would then stop in order to find out what was going on and most of them stayed to witness the show.

Once the sun finally started to set, The Rural Academy Theater troupe started to set up for their show. The troupe consisted of five men and four women who each helped to set up or perform in the show. They explained that they travel around in their caravans all over North Carolina to perform their shows. They don’t use any type of modern transportation, only their horses pull the caravans and they use bikes as the weather gets nicer as well. Their first act consisted of part of the troupe performing instruments to the side of the caravan and one man performing a song about parasites with the use of a flip chart behind him with pictures drawn onto it. The song was sarcastic and satirical, which added to most of the fun and the students were shocked by such an out of the ordinary performance.

They continued the show by performing an overall skit with a family waking up from a long winter to play games and tell stories. Throughout the skit, the stories would be performed with shadow puppets seen through a screen on the caravan or the troupe performers would act it out as well. The skits were charming and told stories that people hadn’t heard before. The colors were great and they even used audience participation to sing a song about summertime feet, where the group blocks out themselves from the calves upwards, so that the audience could only see the feet dancing to the music. After the skit was over, the troupe showed a silent film about a man trying to please a woman by becoming successful and the troupe members played music and sound effects to go along with it.

Although the night was chilly, The Rural Academy Theater warmed the area with laughter and song as each part of their act was performed. It was such an interesting experience to be transported back in time and experience acting and puppetry as it was experienced hundreds of years ago. I had a remarkable time listening to the stories and I learned so much about the art of storytelling through their techniques and various way to bring the audience in and appeal to their senses. The night was truly an experience and I would recommend to anyone to look up The Rural Academy Theater’s performance schedule to see a show that might be coming near his or her own town.

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