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Master storytellers share a wordless, wonder-filled experience for all ages

Vernon’s Performing Arts Centre welcomes a magical journey into The Wilds Feb. 29

Sometimes the most impactful storytelling happens without a single word being spoken.

Audiences will experience that magic first-hand when Victoria’s Wonderheads bring their award-winning production The Wilds to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Feb. 29.

“It’s physical storytelling through mask and puppetry, so a very unique form in Canada and really in the world,” says Kate Braidwood, Wonderheads co-founding artistic director with Andrew Phoenix. Described like ‘live-action animation’ or ‘live-action Pixar,’ without dialogue, “it gives people that space to use their imaginations in a unique way.”

At the heart of the magic is Wonderheads’ signature, full-face character masks, brought to life alongside dazzling puppetry with physical performances from Pedro Siqueira and Loreto Espinoza.

“It really is something you need to see to believe,” Braidwood reflects. “It’s a very specific kind of theatrical magic that happens with these masks…That has a lot to do with how the masks are designed but also physical performances of the performers and what they bring to the character, and the imagination of the audience.”

Into the Wilds

The team’s fourth show, The Wilds is a story of a couple living in the edge of the forest – the Wilds. When one day the wife goes missing, the husband goes searching for her in the forest. “In the Wilds, he comes across all these fantastical creatures as he goes through a journey of discovery in looking for his wife,” Phoenix says.

The Wilds will be Wonderheads’ third visit to the Performing Arts Centre, and Artistic Director Erin Kennedy is excited to share this new performance with Vernon audiences.

“I just find their performances so magical and otherworldly and so touching at the same time. I love being able to bring those kinds of theatre experiences to our community.”

Through the unique storytelling format, different ages will experience the 60-minute production in different ways. “At its face, it’s about this man who goes on this adventure through the woods to search for his wife, and for the most part, I think kids will see that in the story,” Braidwood says. “For adults, there are some underlying themes of aging and loss.”

At the heart of the magic of The Wilds is Wonderheads’ signature, full-face character masks, brought to life alongside dazzling puppetry with physical performances. Photo courtesy VDPAC

What would the two like audiences to take away from The Wilds?

Certainly “a deeper empathy for what our characters have gone through and for anyone who might have gone through a similar journey,” Phoenix says, but beyond that, it’s the real sense of wonder that resonates.

“We like it when an audience laughs and we don’t mind it if an audience tears up, but what we really love is when you hear that gasp – to believe that the puppet came to life or to swear that the mask that can’t move changed expressions and went through a whole emotional journey.”

The Wilds is coming to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Feb. 29. Learn more and purchase your tickets here.

The Wilds, coming to Vernon Feb. 29, is a magical tale by Wonderheads about a couple living on the edge of a forest. When his wife goes missing one day, the husband embarks on a journey of discovery as he searches for her. Photo courtesy VDPAC