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The Dream Catchers musical coming to Empress Theatre

Cast members, back row, from left: Morgyn Davies, Josh Graetz and Randy Plain Eagle. Front: Kiera-Dawn Kolson. Plain Eagle is from Piikani Nation.

Cast members, back row, from left: Morgyn Davies, Josh Graetz and Randy Plain Eagle. Front: Kiera-Dawn Kolson. Plain Eagle is from Piikani Nation.

Stephanie Ripley, who was raised in Fort Macleod, is associate producer of The Dream Catchers.

Stephanie Ripley, who was raised in Fort Macleod, is associate producer of The Dream Catchers.

Stephanie Ripley was looking for a project that would have an impact on a greater community.
Ripley found it in The Dream Catchers, a musical that is touring the country as part of Canada 150 celebrations.
“We really hoped it would be something that would touch people,” said Ripley, a former Fort Macleod resident who is associate producer. “We’ve been really pleased.”
The Dream Catchers is at the Empress Theatre for a free performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13.
The Dream Catchers blends hip hop, the spoken word and folk music
with contemporary and Indigenous dance to create a vibrant show about the dreams of young Canadians.
Written by Mary Francis Moore, The Dream Catchers is a Canada 150 Signature project funded by the federal government and produced by the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown.
Ripley received an early education in theatre at her home town Empress and studied theatre production at York University and spent 10 years working in Toronto. For the past five years she has worked with Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.
“For quite a while in my career I’ve been feeling that I wasn’t giving back to my community in the way that I wanted to, making as big a difference as I would like,” Ripley said.
When the chance to work with the Young Company came up, Ripley didn’t hesitate to take on the 10-month contract.
“Dream Catchers hit all the right tones,” Ripley said. “It gave me an opportunity to shift gears and work on a project that was going to have an impact on the audience.”
Ripley liked that The Dream Catchers celebrates history while looking ahead to the future through a lens of reconcilation, inclusion and the environment.
The chance to work at the Confederation Centre of the Arts and with the Young Company was also attractive to Ripley.
First established at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in 1993, the Young Company is a sought-after summer theatre training and performance program.
“It was one of the opportunities you don’t pass up,” Ripley said.
The 26-member cast of young people from diverse backgrounds across Canada has impressed Ripley.
“They brought so much of their own story to this show as well,” Ripley said. “Every day they impress us with their energy, their truth and their courage.”
Although the topics addressed in The Dream Catchers can be heavy, the cast manages to share a positive message. “Those 26 youths give us hope every day that we’re going to be fine,” Ripley said.
Like Ripley, 21-year-old Josh Graetz was excited for the opportunity to work with the Young Company.
“I knew this was going to be a show unlike anything I had ever done,” Graetz said. “I knew that I would grow as a citizen. That is what excited me the most.”
Graetz, who is studying theatre at Sheridan College, brings to The Dream Catchers the perspective of a first generation Canadian whose parents immigrated here from South Africa.
Graetz spent his early years in the small town of Burns Lake, B.C. where his father was a doctor. He grew up immersed in that culture while being well aware of apartheid in his parents’ home country. The musical has introduced him to issues in his own country.
“It’s unbelievable how much I didn’t know.”
Graetz said the audience can expect to be entertained and challenged by the one-hour musical. “We ask big questions and important questions and people leave the show not only having had a great time, but also asking themselves questions and continuing the conversation.”
Both Ripley and Graetz said The Dream Catchers has had the intended impact.
“The reaction has been incredible,” Ripley said. “We’ve had people say this should be seen in every school in Canada. That’s been really exciting.”
Graetz has enjoyed getting to know the country while sharing a message of hope. “It’s truly been a once in a lifetime experience.”

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