Behind the Scenes of Spoon River Anthology: Hanna
With opening night of Spoon River Anthology less than a week away and the cast and crew working tirelessly to make all of the pieces come together, we take some time to meet Hanna Fridhed, a familiar face in recent years on the Keyano stage, and the creator of The Backstage Chronicles. By day, she works for The United Way of Fort McMurray, but after hours she is very active in the arts around town as the Director of Community for the Arts Council Wood Buffalo and the ADFA North Zone representative. She also writes regularly for Your McMurray Magazine and is part of the Fort McMurray Food Festival Committee. When she's not running around town artsing all over the place, she spoils her two cats, Link and Ash. They're pretty and they know it.
"When I first moved to Fort McMurray from Sweden in 2013, I wasn't allowed to work in Canada because of visa reasons, which lead me to spend a year navel gazing and trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Trust me when I say that one year of contemplating dust motes and feeling lonely is quite enough - I wanted to get involved, to meet people and to have new experiences! I wanted to make this my home. So I volunteered as an usher during the KTC production Les Miserables in the spring of 2014. It was a performance that made me literally fall out of my chair (as the lead Tim Heggie kindly wanted to warn me that he would be acting right beside me a few scenes in, and subsequently tip-toed up and tapped me on my shoulder - I'm not proud to say I squeaked and promptly fell off my stool), and walking out of the theatre I was giddy with excitement that I might be able to be a part of a production like this myself.
Later that year I was cast as Belle in A Christmas Carol, and have since had the fortune of playing Alicia in Good Night Ladies (2015), ensemble in A Few Good Men (2015) and Mary Smith in Run For Your Wife (2016). I've also been involved in the Theatre; Just Because dinner productions. Spoon River Anthology will be my fifth performance on the Keyano Theatre main stage - and it's unlike any theatre experience I've ever had.
Every production I have been a part of has been unique in its own way, and while they have all used many layers to tell their stories, Spoon River Anthology has taken the intricacies of creating a new world using exquisite costume and lighting design, a minimalist set and beautiful use of instruments and song to a whole new level. With every new added layer, it becomes more intriguing, and it tells the story in more ways than one. I wish I could see it myself!
Like for many of us, this year has been a tough one for me - with the loss of our home, followed by the unexpected passing of my father and grandmother. Spoon River has been a great outlet and way of slowly beginning some sort of healing process using creativity, laughter and the amazing support from the rest of the cast and the artistic team. I'm grateful for having been able to have this experience at this time in my life."
You've directed before, most recently receiving both Outstanding Director and Production at the 2017 ADFA One Act Play Festival. How do you feel this show has impacted that side of your theatre experience?
"This was the second time I ever tried my hand at directing, and I'm so happy and humbled that people enjoyed the play! Being on "the other side" of a production, as it were, can be quite the eye-opener. There are so many little bits and pieces that makes a show come together, and there are so many people involved, giving it their all – these are things that many in the audience might never know of and notice (I know I never did). It takes a village to raise a child – and a town to create a theatre production! I also learned never to take acting notes personally, haha."
How did you get involved with the very important task of sharing KTC's stories, including taking some production photos, this season?
"Actually, it all started back in 2014 during A Christmas Carol. As wrapped up as I was in my own jittery excitement at being on stage, I couldn't help but notice how many people were involved. We've all seen the Thank You lists of names in the programs, but somehow I wasn't expecting all that dedication and hard work by the people behind the curtains. As I became more involved, the extent of the Fort McMurray theatre community dawned on me – and I found the stories as to how we all slowly seemed to find our way there mesmerising. Some had spent many years in school for acting, others had never been on stage but sought new challenges, there were those who were lonely in a new town and wanted to meet friends, and the ones who needed a way back to themselves and to happiness after going through hard times. I wanted more people to know of these stories, of the amazing impact that being in a production can have, how it can change you – and how it can bring people of all walks of life together. I met my best friends through the theatre, and have become close with people I would otherwise never even have spoken to. I hope for everyone to have that opportunity.
I started helping out around KTC with social media and taking headshots earlier this season, and it sort of snowballed from there, with photographing rehearsals and shows, writing articles and now getting The Backstage Chronicles on its feet. Knowing that this has been a tough year for our community, and how important the arts are, I wanted to help out in any way I can to ensure that community theatre is something that will continue to thrive in Fort McMurray."
Why should YMM come see this show?
"Spoon River Anthology is something completely different! You know those stories you are drawn to, not because it's all fun and games, but the ones that touch something deep inside of you, the ones that make you stay in your seat a couple of minutes, just so you can catch your breath again? This is one of those. It's a show you can't really explain, you will simply have to come and experience it for yourself."
SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY
Preview: April 27, 8:00 pm
Opening: April 28, 8:00 pm
Show dates: April 29, May 4, May 5, May 6, 2017 8:00 pm
Tickets available at keyano.ca/theatre
Rating: Appropriate for all audiences
In the fictional small town of Spoon River we are introduced to the ghosts of the people that were once its inhabitants who took their secrets to the grave. While exploring the evocative story, both the sad and humorous sides of life are portrayed in the haunting performance with fetching ballads and the free verse of Edgar Lee Masters.
“A dramatic presentation reduced to its simplest terms… moving and beautiful… An evening of astonishingly stirring emotional satisfaction.” – New York Post
“A glowing theatre experience… A brooding and loving American folk poem brought to life on a stage.” – The New York Times