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Theatre inspired by all things vintage

Stories can come from everywhere around us. Whether it is something we see, an experience we may have, or a sound we might hear, there is no shortage to the ways from which we can all have a great story to tell our friends and family.

Clothing – specifically that of a vintage nature – are pieces that come with their own unique stories, a philosophy subscribed to by Rachel Behling, owner of Auburn Vintage Clothiers in Conestogo. There’s a piece of history in each of the items created in the 1970s or earlier, not just  a one-of-a-kind look and style that may not be found elsewhere.

That take on things is why Pat the Dog Theatre Creation’s Women’s Room Collective decided to partner with Behling and her store to create the Vintage Project, an interactive piece that will allow the audience to not only see the beauty and history of pieces in the store, but enjoy an hour of entertaining theatre.

Taking part in the fifth year of the Women’s Room, Behling was one of many who gathered to tell stories and create in a group setting. Once Lisa O’Connell, artistic director with Pat the Dog, had the chance to absorb all that Auburn Vintage Clothiers had to offer, she knew that it would be the best way to tell new stories through theatre.

“We were thinking about how could we bring live performance to community on an original piece on an original theme for our region. During this time, the pause or intermission or whatever want to call this crazy pandemic, we came up with a notion of Vintage Project, which will be a piece of live theatre, created by women in the Women’s Room in 2020. That will be inspired by and will be formed be performed in Auburn Vintage for a small audience of no more than four people,” said O’Connell.

The clothing items are what really inspired the show, she notes.

“Every single piece in the store, and there are thousands of pieces that have been carefully chosen and curated by Rachel –  she knows the story of every single piece, so it’s like a living history of wearable art, wearable history, all of it. Most of it from women that have lived in this community, many of them many generations back.”

Behling says books could be written about all the pieces in the store, but people can experience those stories through the show.

“Lisa and I marvel at, just within this community, what you can gather together and talk about, chat about, share with others, and I think in terms of bringing the store and the theatre piece together it’s about inspiring people at a time where maybe they’re not feeling as inspired,” said Behling. “I think that’s one of the reasons a lot of the women from our Women’s Room kind of jumped at this: It was a project that they can kind of get their hands into and have a personal experience with those pieces. It’s just a bonus that they happen to know me. It just worked well, and just came together quite organically.”

During the presentation, O’Connell says the four audience members will not only get to enjoy the show, but they will also have the opportunity to take part and become involved in the show, if they so choose. From trying on pieces of clothing, to getting up and walking around, she says this is a piece of theatre that most people are not used to experiencing.

The Vintage Project is expected to start in early March 2021, just in time for International Women’s Day.

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