With cancelled performances this year because of COVID-19, the Confederation Players have turned to researching and working with diverse communities on the Island in the hopes of expanding stories for future shows.
The shows, which have been performed by the troupe acting as the Fathers of Confederation, have been taking to the streets of Charlottetown since 1980, dressing in period costumes to tell the story of Confederation.
"This year, we were able to kind of just shut off the tours, shut off the theatre and focus on the research, focus on finding these stories, collecting these stories and reaching out to the community," said Cameron Bennett MacDonald, artistic supervisor of the program.
The show usually focuses on the story of the Charlottetown Conference, a week in the year of 1864, but associate producer Sarah Denman-Wood said, "part of our goal for this summer was to expand that, to expand that scope."
"There's a whole lot more Island history than one week."
Over the last month or so the players have been working with groups like the Mi'kmaq Confederacy, the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. and historians with the Acadian community.
"To me, it's important for them to learn that education, so that way they'll be able to share to people, to the public," said Mi'kmaq elder Junior Peter Paul.
Performers like Kierrah Titus said this was a perfect opportunity to explore their own personal history.
"I think all that we're doing is just adding context and adding different voices to showcase that this isn't what the Island just was, it wasn't just the [Fathers of Confederation]," said Titus.
"It was also the Mi'kmaq people who came before them, the Acadians, the Black Islanders that were here, the Asian immigrants and the other immigrants that have come."
Titus said the group has also been researching online documents and cross-referencing with archives. Much of their time has been spent visiting sites like Orwell Corner Historic Village, Lennox Island, Jean Pierre Roma at Three Rivers and speaking with Stella Sheppard, a descendent of Kesiah Sheppard from The Bog, in P.E.I.
The players are hopeful they'll be able to resume performances next year and when they do, visitors and Islanders can expect to see many new characters, with a wider variety of stories to tell.
"I'm hopeful that in these next years, we'll be reaching out more to more communities, and Islanders might realize, 'Oh, maybe this is something I can do to learn a bit more about my own heritage, and my own history,'" said MacDonald.
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