“England” (from Traveltheatrics)
Author’s Note: TravelTheatrics is a storytelling show written and performed by solo performer Keara Barnes, who enacts six of her travel stories and encompasses 18 different characters. It continues to tour around Canada. “England” is the opening story from TravelTheatrics and Keara would like to dedicate it to her stalwart mother. “Theatre: My Neverland” is dedicated to the audience members that keep theatre alive.
My name is Keara.
I am the child of two immigrants.
Two adventurous souls who found each other on the other side of the globe.
England, the lair of Shakespeare, produced my Father.
Ireland, isle of the storytellers, created my Mother.
Canada, our multicultural country, conceived me.
Travel trickles through my blood.
My bones burst with stories.
To me, travelling and storytelling and theatre all centre on the same thing.
Moments of connection.
To each other, ourselves, the world.
Uniting the three like roots of a tree that when connected, flourish, but when disconnected, the tree deteriorates, and the wood slowly decays.
It is dead inside, no longer able to thrive, and I have been at this point many a time.
My soul has struggled to survive amidst a dark wood where the only echo is “you can’t,” instead of “you could.”
But amidst the darkness I have sought out light, and initiated a spark to make that blaze bright.
The resulting fire then conspires to bring us lost souls together.
The embers crackling like laughter.
Stories are our flames.
Theatre is my spark.
And travelling is my fuel.
England: Wet, Pebbly, Enchanting.
My first international trip.
I’m six years old with an imagination on the go.
The Barnes family rents a lovely cabin in the seaside town of Selsey, trees dotting the beach like straws in a cocktail.
The ocean breeze is inexplicably alive as it snakes through every orifice, every pore, invigorating me in a way I’ve never experienced before.
Nothing is amiss.
And OH MY GOD they have candyland!
Now this is bliss.
I make a friend, Katie, her straight dark hair framing huge brown eyes, wide open with excitement as we skip through the sand searching for those perfectly rare sea shells.
KATIE: Would you like to build a fairy house?
KEARA: Yeah!!! (Pause) Um, what’s a fairy house?
KATIE: You don’t know what a fairy house is? We have them all over England.
KEARA: Uh … ya I do! It’s … a house for fairies?
Turns out I’m smarter than I showed!
It’s not exactly the Enigma code.
We scour and scrounge for our perfect treasures, our amused parents overseeing fondly from afar.
We find a rivet in a sandbank, a perfectly hollowed-out shelf on which to construct our dreams.
KATIE: First we have to place the shells around the house like furniture. Then we leave it overnight for the fairies to move around as they please. We have to come back every day until it stays the same as the day before and that means the fairies like it.
KEARA: Wow. How do you know all that?
KATIE: I’m British. We know everything.
KEARA: No wonder my Dad always has the right answer.
KATIE: See you tomorrow, Keara! Fingers (crossed)!
KEARA: Fingers (crossed)!
The following morning I fly across the sand, wings bursting from my sides, towards my magic mentor, the six-year-old fairy guru who stands overseeing our creation.
I’m nearly there, it’s about time to decree–
KATIE: It’s changed! See!
Sure enough, the furniture has been rearranged.
Pieces have been plucked and carefully placed, changed, but with a thoughtful purpose.
KEARA: Did you move it around?
KATIE: No! It wasn’t me, it was the fairies.
She is so earnest and sincere, I feel a sudden and immense revere.
Maybe, just maybe, there really are fairies here!
I suddenly feel nauseous and hot. Is that a spot?
I’m just overwhelmed. This is a lot.
KATIE: Would you like to come get some ice cream?
This is clearly the girl of my dreams.
One mint chocolate cone down the hatch, with candyland spread across the ground, I feel the dizziness return.
Ignoring it, I protest as I’m scooped off to bed.
And as I slip into sleep, to a land where magic has always been, I grin at realizing for the first time, it’s not just within.
Magic is real.
(KEARA starts vomiting)
The flu. AND chicken pox.
Then, the storm hits.
Our perfect family vacation suddenly plummets into chaos.
The rain menacingly lashes, the ocean dashes threatening waves at our door like meteors headed to earth.
CLAIRE: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Alan will ye go and do something about the power!
ALAN: What the bloody hell do you expect me to do about it, Claire?
KEARA: I’m scared! (She scratches her arms)
CLAIRE: It’s alright pet, the storm will pass soon.
ALAN: I told you, stop scratching or you’ll look like a cork board when you grow up!
KEARA: But I’m itchy! (She throws up)
CLAIRE: Oh for the love of god, Alan will ye grab another bowl, she’s filled this one up already.
ALAN: For Christ’s sake, I can’t see anything in the dark!
KEARA: Am I gonna die? (She throws up again)
CLAIRE: Will ye stop, you’ll be fine you just need to keep your medication down! Alan!
ALAN: Alright, alright! Bloody hell-Ow!
CLAIRE: Alan fer fecks sake what are ye doing over there?
ALAN: I’m trying to find a bloody bowl like ye told me to!
CLAIRE: RIGHT! That’s it! Alan sit down. Keara bend over. Your not going to like this but lord have mercy, here come your pills!
Thanks to my cool-handed Mother, I get better, my body finally unfetters from its illness.
My fear of death having now passed, I re-focus on the fairies, who I need to get back to fast.
KEARA: I’m back! How is it?
KATIE: There you are! I’ve been waiting ages for you! Shall we look together? On the count of Three. One …
It’s gone. The storm destroyed the fairies home.
This is the first heartbreak I have ever known.
KATIE: I hate you storm! I’m glad you’re dead!
KEARA: Stupid Storm! If you ever come back, my Mommy’s gonna make you take YOUR pills!
We set to work re-building our dreams, which is something always worth doing if they are big enough.
KEARA: How long does it usually take until they like it?
KATIE: I don’t know. It’s always different.
KEARA: But … I have to leave tomorrow.
KATIE: Oh. Me too.
My first day on the beach, I found the most perfect shell. Smooth and pale pink, I have been envisioning its new home on my bedside table.
It will be a vessel through which to hear the sea, while I snuggle up in bed, cosy as can be.
(KEARA pulls the shell out of her pocket)
KEARA: Here. Let’s use this.
KATIE: It’s perfect!
KEARA: I know.
(KEARA places the shell in the house)
KEARA: See you in the morning. Fingers (crossed)!
KATIE: Fingers (crossed)!
The following morning, I am very calm approaching the house.
I think, even if we fail, I tried my best.
And in that moment, that became my new life manifest.
Once again, Katie has beat me there, standing before the house like a mother bear.
Katie excitedly points at the fairy house.
Nothing is astray. And my pink shell is exactly where I placed it yesterday.
KEARA: We did it!
KATIE: They really like it.
We quickly wet some sand and seal up the fourth wall, save a small entrance for someone no bigger than a doll.
KATIE: Done. Now it’s their home forever.
KEARA: Will you ever come back to visit it?
KATIE: No. We always go somewhere different every summer, and I build a new fairy house.
KEARA: Do you ever see the fairies?
KATIE: Sometimes. If I close my eyes and then open them super fast. I can just see them disappear.
KATIE: I gotta go. Thanks for being my friend. (Pause) I’ve never built a fairy house with anyone before. I’ll really miss you.
KEARA: I’ll miss you too.
And with that, she leaves.
It’s like watching Peter fly back to Neverland, but Tinkerbell has found a new home.
And I, Wendy darling, have gone on one great adventure.
And now, that it’s all over, I know this to be true.
I do believe in fairies, I do, I do.
“Theatre, My Neverland”
Then dazzling light.
Magic is within your sight.
The energy shifts, your interest is captured, enraptured.
You are entranced, forevermore enhanced.
It speaks to you, guides you over to the window and pushes you out.
And though you have doubt,
You trust in its power; its unassailable influence,
Keeping you safe yet vulnerable.
Anything but comfortable.
You are flying among the stars.
Over parked cars and jazz bars.
The journey is carefully planned,
Not a moment astray.
The cold night air takes your breath away.
You relax and then tense,
Putting up a pretense that you are unaffected,
But we are all connected,
Feeding off the same energy.
Soon all of this will be a memory.
Stay engaged, stay present.
It’s not always pleasant
But that’s life.
Rife with unending strife.
And that is precisely why we are here.