It’s their goal to connect audiences with artists, and to connect both with the beauty of nature.
And it’s a goal that has spanned nearly four decades, as Caravan Farm Theatre gears up for the coming season.
Set in the idyllic North Okanagan countryside 11 kilometres north of Armstrong, the theatre that occupies 80 acres of land brings professional talent to their productions that are meant to inspire the community. Kicking off the new season is the North Okanagan’s original Halloween fright, the Walk of Terror, Oct. 28.
“It’s really meant to be an engaging Halloween-themed theatrical event,” said Estelle Shook, artistic and managing director. “When we started, we were really one of the only Halloween events along these lines. It’s really grown over the years to be a (main) event.”
With a 14-year history, the Walk of Terror is a family-focused event that brings together actors who seek to scare careless wanderers, Crannog Ales, food, a costume contest and live music for an event Shook said is part Burning Man, part Nuit Blanche and part Day of the Dead processional.
“The Walk of Terror is where the line between artist and audience is most blurred,” Shook said. “It’s very volunteer powered and artist curated.”
Averaging 25 minutes in length, the walk changes every year with adapted routes and new acts. After completion, audiences can gather at the barn for snacks and live jams by Victoria’s Compassion Gorilla.
“They’re a really fun dance band,” Shook said of Compassion Gorilla. “It’s really important for us that the band is a super fun one.”
However, beyond the family-friendly frightening activities, the Walk of Terror serves as a way for Caravan Farm Theatre to share what they have on the horizon.
Falling on the heels of the Walk of Terror is O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, a winter sleigh ride show by Maristella Roca, Dec. 12-31.
“It’s a very beautiful story, very timeless,” said Shook.
Set in pre-First World War New York, The Gift of the Magi follows a young couple who struggle to finance Christmas gifts for each other.
“They each end up selling their most precious thing to buy a gift for the other,” Shook said, adding that it’s a tale of love and sacrifice.
The Gift of the Magi, directed by Shook with music composed and directed by Allen Cole, brings in Caravan Farm Theatre favourites, including Randy Hellmers, who starred as Hellhound and Helen Back in The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw this summer, Tracey Power and Billy Marchenski.
“We have a really lovely cast,” Shook said.
Following The Gift of the Magi, the world’s only horse-drawn sleigh ride theatre experience, is Hands Up! June 2, 2018, Caravan Farm Theatre’s core fundraiser.
“Every time we do it, it just gets bigger and more fabulous,” Shook said. “It’s a really fun night.
Centered around a live auction, Hands Up! features food, local ales, a wagon ride, live tunes and surprise theatrics.
“There’s a certain great amount of entertainment,” Shook said.
Returning to the farm for Caravan’s summer show is the popular and much anticipated Law of the Land by the team that brought Caravan Farm Theatre The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw.
Written by Peter Anderson and scored by John Millard, Law of the Land is set in a coal mine in early ’80s British Columbia.
“It’s really political and loud about resource extraction issues, but it does so in a humorous and compassionate way,” Shook said. “It’s a really hilarious comedy. It’s essentially a farce.”
And it’s a farce that has graced the fields of Caravan Farm Theatre in the past.
“I think (those who saw it) will remember it,” Shook said. “It was so memorable.”
Also in queue for the summer is the potential revival of the farm’s kids theatre programs.
The programs would connect kids aged nine-14 with theatre professionals to explore performance skills.
“We will look into what will be the most effective,” Shook said, adding that more details will be released soon.
And, as the theatre nears its 40th anniversary, the festivities will continue to ramp up.
“We’re really excited about this season on the cusp of our 40th,” Shook said. “It’s wonderful if we can find ways to make these professionals more accessible to the people of the Okanagan.”
For more information about the history of Caravan Farm Theatre, visit www.caravanfarmtheatre.com. Tickets to the Walk of Terror Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. are available for $19 adults, $12 youth 13-18 and $5 children 12 and under in advance or $25, $15 and$5 respectively at the gate from the Ticket Seller, www.ticketseller.ca, 250-549-7469. The Gift of the Magi tickets are also available now through the Ticket Seller.