ABBOTSFORD, B.C. UFV Theatre is excited to present the first production of its 2022-2023 theatre season, Ghosting of Sumas Lake, directed by Dr. Michelle LaFlamme.
In November 2021 the Sumas Prairie region experienced a historic storm, a month’s worth of relentless rain in three days, causing catastrophic flooding and havoc that destroyed homes, farms, livestock, and forced mass evacuations and displacement. Exactly one year later, UFV Theatre has created a devised show based on the student’s experiences of the devastating Sumas Prairie floods, exploring the impact of our climate crisis, the stories of community loss and resilience, and how we continue to be ghosted by our experiences on the land, history, and the past.
Dr. Michelle LaFlamme is an Associate Professor in the UFV English department and has extensive training in forum theatre methods, and the use of theatre for social change. Her research and teaching focus is in contemporary Canadian literature, with a special interest in Indigenous theatre, literature, and performance. For three decades she has been engaged in performing, writing, and developing plays, and has worked as an actor, director, dramaturg and, most recently, as a collaborator working on devised and Forum theatre.
LaFlamme shares, “The focus for the Fall show was chosen because I feel that it is both timely and relevant, as the performance and our gallery installation of the same name are important ways to mark these experiences, exactly one year later. The 2021 Sumas Prairie floods have impacted every single person on the UFV campus and within the surrounding communities. The show is a container for some of these experiences, and through the talk-backs scheduled for the show, we hope to generate even more conversations with students, faculty, staff and people from the local communities. The title I chose for this workshop performance was to remind us about the multiple ways that we are ghosted by the past, in this case, the lake returning to where it had been. And, we are ghosted by the experiences on this land, including the losses during the recent and historical floods in this region. Ghosting is also a way to appreciate the sense of loss that occurred for Indigenous peoples in the area when the lake was originally drained. And, of course, all of humanity is ghosted by the persistent threat of the global climate crisis. So, in these diverse ways, ghosting became a foundational aesthetic for this show.”
Audience members can expect to experience these immersive elements and a sense of immediacy, as this dynamic show will use multimedia to create the ghosting effects, layering audio sources and visuals from the floods.
Performances will be held at the UFV Abbotsford campus Performance Studio on November 30, and December 1, 2, and 3, 2022.
The UFV Theatre student cast features Aryan Tuknayat, Nishi Channa, Sabrina Morgan, Owen Muller, and Erin Wansink.
The student production crew includes Artyom "Arty" Urdabayev (lighting designer), Lisa Patetta (stage manager), Kai S. Pollock (dramaturge and assistant director), Anatole Smith (props master), Hunter Holden (set designer), Simon Davis (set and props assistant), and Ramina Akhmetova (sound designer).
Students are also mentored by UFV associate professor Parjad Sharifi, wardrobe manager Heather Robertson, and production manager Giuseppe Condello.
Performances: SOLD OUT
Tickets are still available for our workshop performances. To reserve a seat for a free workshop performance, book your tickets here
Please be advised that early reservations via Eventbrite are encouraged as seating will be extremely limited. All bookings can be made through Eventbrite and ticket registration ends 2 hours before the performance start times. Performances will be held in the Performance Studio, Building D, 105, Abbotsford Campus, University of the Fraser Valley, 33844 King Road.
Preview matinee: Wednesday, November 30 at 2:00 pm.
Opening night: Thursday, December 1 at 7:00 pm.
Performance: Friday, December 2 at 7:00 pm.
Closing: Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 pm.
Email Giuseppe.Condello@ufv.ca for questions.
Accompanying the production will be a stand-alone exhibition of the same name, Ghosting of Sumas Lake, which will be available to view from November 16-December 2, 2022, at the S’eliyemetaxwtexw Art Gallery, room B136, at the UFV Abbotsford campus. The installation will document the impact of the November 2021 flooding of the Sumas Prairie region. It will also contain an immersive audio-visual element, a guest book for reflections, and an overview of the archival data that was researched to support the Fall performance. An opening reception will be held on November 16from 4:00 pm-6:00 pm, and it will be free and open to the public.
About the 2022-2023 Season of Theatre at UFV
In March 2023, UFV Theatre will perform The Laramie Project, directed by Shelley Liebembuk, Assistant Professor in Theatre. Created by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, this verbatim theatre piece is constructed from the transcripts of over 200 interviews, conducted in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. The piece reveals a community grappling with violence, responsibility, and healing; and showcases how theatre can be a brave space for us to engage with this together.
For more information about UFV Theatre productions visit https://ufv.ca/plays/
Dr. Michelle LaFlamme
Q - Tell us about your Theatre experience and your role as the director in the upcoming production Ghosting of Sumas Lake.
A - "For three decades I have been engaged in performing, writing and developing plays. I have worked as an actor, director, writer, dramaturg and, most recently as a collaborator working on devised and FORUM theatre. I have worked with Margo Kane at Full Circle Performance and David Diamond at Headlines/Theatre for Living. I am honoured to have been invited to develop and direct Ghosting of Sumas Lake as the Fall 2022 workshop performance at UFV. The show will feature the lived experiences of the actors in the context of the November 2021 Sumas Prairie floods."
Q - Why were the stories about the impact of the November 2021 Sumas Prairie floods chosen to be explored for this year’s production?
A - “The focus for the Fall show was chosen because I feel that it is both timely and relevant, as the performance and our gallery installation of the same name are important ways to mark these experiences, exactly one year later. The 2021Sumas Prairies floods have impacted every single person on the UFV campus and within the surrounding communities. The show is a container for some of these experiences, and through the talk-backs scheduled for the show, we hope to generate even more conversations with students, faculty, staff and people from the local communities. The title I chose for this workshop performance was to remind us all of the multiple ways that we are ghosted by the past, in this case, the lake returning to where it had been. And, we are ghosted by the experiences on this land, including the losses during the recent and historical floods in this region. Ghosting is also a way to appreciate the sense of loss that occurred for Indigenous peoples in the area when the lake was originally drained. And, of course, all of humanity is ghosted by the persistent threat of the global climate crisis. So, in these diverse ways, ghosting became a foundational aesthetic for this show.”
Q - Can you tell us what makes this production unique, what types of performance techniques will be explored, and how will multimedia be integrated?
A - "There will be multimedia elements in the show to evoke the ghosting effect and it will feature layers of audio sources and visuals from the floods. We intend to create the sense of the immediacy from the experiences of the unrelenting rain, and both the literal and the metaphoric overwhelm that happened during those powerful three days when a month’s worth of rain poured from the skies and water swarmed over the roads and the fields wrecking havoc on people’s lives. Within this big surreal and immersive element, we will bear witness to the small, personal and intimate ways in which people’s lives were deeply affected."
Q - What do you want audience members to take away from this production?
A - "The sacred power of the water. The resilience of the communities that have been impacted. The impact of climate crises on our lives and the land itself. A sense of the historical and global context for the November 2021 floods."
Q - Can you describe the types of opportunities students have working in this production, (such as the stage manager, costume/hair makeup), and what are the types of skills that students are learning and building on during this production?
A - "As the Director, I have a very clear vision for the show but all of the conversations with everyone involved adds nuance as the show comes to life. Kai S. Pollock is a fantastic research assistant who worked with me this summer to amass almost 600 pages of archival documents, photos from previous floods, timelines, Indigenous perspectives, competing interests, and the historical events leading to the original draining of the lake. We will be making a portion of this research available in the gallery exhibition, opening on November 16, 2022. Kai is now the AD for the Fall workshop performance because this continuity made sense for both of us. I am also supported by Lisa Patetta, a work-study student in the role of stage manager. The very talented Parjad Sharifi, UFV Associate Professor in Theatre, teaches students about production, from set design to props, to working with audio sources and video projection. Giuseppe Condello is the Production Manager and Heather Robertson is helping in all aspects of the show including props, costumes, hair and make-up. We meet each week as we get the show onto its feet. In addition, work-study students are learning all aspects of production. It is a very dynamic learning environment with applied learning throughout for all involved."
Q - Finally, can you share with us what makes you passionate about Theatre and Performance?
A - "Theatre provides us with a space to create in the realm of the symbolic. Through performance we can evoke a story about humanity that has the possibility to move us toward change in the real world. That gets me very excited! The collaborative nature of producing theatre has always been extremely stimulating to me. Devised theatre is my wheelhouse because it is so very dynamic, immediate, and organic. As a BIPOC woman using theatre for social justice, such as Forum theatre in community-based theatre projects, is also very stimulating and empowering for me. These ways of working and creating demonstrate to me, in tangible ways, what is possible when we use the symbolic language of theatre to share our stories and our common humanity."
Cast & Crew
Owen Muller | CAST
"I am a young Critical Care Paramedic who is sent to help evacuate and tend to the survivors of the floods. He slowly realizes he is unable to help everyone as he sees the disaster and the terror. Therefore, he deals with survivor's guilt and a battle between his professional self and emotionally influenced self.
I’ve enjoyed exploring new ways to ground myself. Also, new ways to figure out how our character’s emotions work. We’ve done a lot of games that require us to think hard about what an emotion physically does to a person, and this has helped a lot.
I am currently attending UFV for a BA and a major in theatre and I work weekends at a golf course. And, I was in high school drama class from grade 10-12 and in musical theatre in grade 12.
I wished, going into this, that I would be able to explore and play around with incredibly heavy and emotional scenes. Thankfully, this has been the perfect opportunity to do so, and I’ve found a lot of improvement in my acting abilities in said areas.
Working in this production has felt like an extracurricular activity in a way because everyone is so engaged and equally excited about the production and being a part of it! Everyone comes into rehearsal ready to act their hearts out and leave everything on the floor. It has been amazing to make new friends and get to see these people grow as actors."
Q & A with Owen Muller
Q - Describe your role in this production and why you chose it?
A - "I play a young paramedic who must overcome obstacles with PTSD after trying to help during the floods. I chose this role because I wanted to share the first responders’ experiences and emotions."
Q- What is something new you learned in your role?
A - "I have learned that in some cases of PTSD, some people will retell their traumatic story in the 3rd person to help separate them from that experience as a type of coping mechanism."
Q - What skills have you learned that can be applied to your career aspirations?
A - "I have learned how to connect with my fellow cast members on a deeper level. Dr. LaFlamme has given us tools to allow us to keep our mental health in check as well, by physically and mentally separating ourselves from the heavy tones and conversations we unavoidably have during rehearsal."
Q - What would you tell a student with no Theatre experience why they should join?
A - "It is an opportunity to learn about how other people see the world and gain a new appreciation for other people’s struggles. It also allows you to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself which I have found incredibly fulfilling. Plus, you meet some pretty amazing people."
Q- What is your favorite play and why?
A - "Newsies the Broadway Musical is my favourite play. A friend shared it with me and I instantly fell in love with it! The music never ceases to make me giddy when singing along and everyone on stage knows what they’re doing and how to do it. It gives me a lot of inspiration and I aspire to be like those actors."
Q - Is there anything you would like to add?
A - "We are all very excited for you to come and see the show, we hope it will move you the way it has moved us."
Ramina Akhmetova | SOUND DESIGNER
"I’m a sound designer for Ghosting of Sumas Lake. I enjoyed learning the process of sound design for theatre, I’ve only done post sound for film before. I’m a GDD student - I was helping costume designers for one of the Shakespeare’s plays - I’d like to try out every department if possible."
Artyom "Arty" Urdabayev | LIGHTING DESIGNER
"My name is Artyom «Arty» Urdabayev and I am the Lighting and Projections Designer for Ghosting of Sumas Lake. My job is to create all the beautiful lighting and projections for this show. What I enjoyed about it is that I was finally able to take a deep dive into the creative and technical parts of both lighting and projections. Last year, I worked as a Lighting Operator for the UFV Theatre’s Pericles and despite being my first theatre experience, I enjoyed changing the light scenes and being a part of the technical crew. So, this year I decided to go even deeper and learn more about the technical part of a production and how I could help tell a story with this set of skills."
"Besides theatre, I also do nature photography and started my career in film, in the lighting and camera departments. As you can see, I enjoy the technical part of the art, and hopefully, I will be able to help this play to be a significant source of the information about the flooding."
Aryan Tuknayat | CAST
"Warm greetings, I am Aryan Tuknayat. I’m currently a 4th-year Computer Information Systems student, and I took a transfer from the Indian counterpart of UFV in the year 2021. For the sake of degree completion, I had to choose certain Arts electives. Since theatre and acting have been my passion and a hobby for me, I chose to select them as my elective, hence, here I am, a part of Ghosting of Sumas Lake."
"This is the first time when I am surrendering myself to the real concept of theatre and acting, wherein, I am creating my script and my character, with the assistance of my mentors. It has been a surreal experience so far and a substantial learning opportunity. I was always fascinated by the nitty-gritty of acting, and practical implementations of this “Nitty-Gritty” has been immaculate."
"Apart from ACTING IN A COMPLEX ROLE (THEA 291), I am also studying ESSENTIALS OF ACTING (THEA 112) which itself is a great foundation course to learn the basics of the given form of performance art."
"Before UFV Canada, I served as the president of the theatre club at Fraser Valley India. Moreover, I have fond memories of soliloquy, which I used to perform in school."
"I am looking forward to having a great experience in the given course and expanding my horizon in terms of acting. It has been a great opportunity for me to act in the English language and make new friends along the way!"
Erin Wansink | CAST
Erin Wansink is an actor playing the role of Alaine in the production Ghosting of Sumas Lake. She has enjoyed working so closely with all her peers and the stupid jokes that go flying back and forth during rehearsals. Erin is currently a first-year student getting her Bachelor of Arts after being fresh out of Dental College. She is currently working on multiple movie sets and after graduation she will either go full-time into that work or get her masters/Ph.D. Erin has been in multiple musical productions including Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen with secondary or lead roles. Music has been her life as long as she can remember, once a band geek always a band geek. She wishes she can help portray any type of story as entertainment but also as a life lesson to anyone willing to listen. The production has been such an amazing and positive opportunity especially experiencing the growth of herself and others around her. Learning different techniques that can help not only in an acting sense but in real-life situations. She wants to thank everyone that has been a part of this production, from the people onstage, and offstage, making the stage, and the ones sitting and watching the stage.
Lisa Patteta | STAGE MANAGER
Lisa Patetta is the Stage Manager of the UFV Fall 2022 production. Previously a costume designer in past semesters, she ventures into stage management first as ASM in Costumes and as a dresser. She is currently in the Theatre diploma and wishes to pursue a professional career in the Entertainment industry after graduation.
Nishi Channa | CAST
My name is Nishi Channa, and I am one of the actors in Ghosting of Sumas. I enjoyed the mini-games we played to increase our confidence and lighten the mood. I am in the third semester of my first-year here at UFV. I am trilingual with English, Hindi and Punjabi under my belt, and I am also learning French, German and Japanese. My favorite pass time is reading books and singing. I also write and draw from time to time. In last year’s winter semester, I helped with the backstage. Working closely with actors intrigued me, so here I am as an actor. I wish theatre would help me become a more confident person.
Sterling "Kai" Pollock | DRAMATURGE/ASST. DIRECTOR
Sterling is also known around as Kai. He is back at it again with their practicums! However, this time around, he is working as a Dramaturgist and the Assistant Director. It has been a quick run to the computer and searching down the rabbit hole(s), exploring research and compiling documents regarding Sumas Lake, its history, people, and the flooding events within the Fraser Valley. The other exciting and new part of my role is working and being present during rehearsals and getting first-hand experience with the relationship between the director and actors. It's been an eye-opening and wonderful experience, and there is so much left to do and learn! I would like to provide a special thank you to our outstanding Director, Dr. Michelle La Flamme. For giving me this opportunity, allowing it to blossom and grow the way the project did, and for supporting me each step! Thank you to Heather for recommending me and for their continuous support!
Sabrina Morgan | CAST
Sabrina is part of the acting cast in the November production, Ghosting of Sumas Lake. She has enjoyed learning the inner workings of creating a devised theatre project and using her writing as well as acting to create characters and scenes. She is currently teaching art at a community association while also attending UFV full-time as a student. She previously acted in her high school production of Unity (1918) where she played Beatrice Wilde. She has also participated in over 10 original one-act shows written by students. Her wish in theatre is to find a community of people that share similar interests with her and to create shows that impact their audience. She has also performed in an online performance of a student-written show where the atmosphere was kind and over 200 people attended online. It was wonderful to still be able to perform and have an audience react to what the students had created.
A Q&A with Sabrina Morgan
Q - Describe your role in this production and why you chose it?
A - "I am one of the 5 actors that will be working on this production, and I chose it simply because I have always been drawn to acting. I love the jitter right before getting onstage and I think it pushes me as a person and as an artist. It lets me explore what it means to be a human in ways that I didn't think possible and overall, it's just been a great experience all in all.”
Q - What is something new you learned in your role?
A - “I learned how important it is to tell real stories in a fictional way. I think we get so lost in the splendour of film and TV that we often forget what it's like to watch a real story unfold in front of our eyes. It's spectacular what we've been able to do for this performance where we are able to take real stories and people's experiences and kind of mold them into something theatrical. It's beautiful being able to watch what my cast mates have created from scratch and how they have grown and changed over the course of the rehearsal process.”
Q - What skills have you learned that can be applied to your career aspirations?
A - “Obviously, it's the use and the mix of creativity and teamwork that draws me to productions like this. I am aiming to be able to get into the animation field and I think theatre provides great stepping stones towards that goal. I am able to work with a team on a production full of moving parts that comes together so satisfyingly. This will help my future projects where many artists are trying to express and refine their ideas.”
Q- What would you tell a student with no Theater experience why they should join?
A - “I think the thing that would convince most students is the idea that you can earn credits by messing around with friends and simply getting to create something but a lot of people would do it for more sentimental reasons. The idea of theatre is to be able to play like a kid in a safe space where people are allowed to have fun instead of being stuck in chairs studying all the time. It lets you have the chance to move and create on the spot and be in the mentality of different characters for a little bit and I think anyone who has the confidence to try will have loads of fun with it.”
Q- What is your favourite play and why?
A - “I’m going to cheat and give two answers because my favourite play of all time would be Unity (1918), written by Kevin Kerr about the Spanish flu that hit Canada just after the end of the 1st world war. I have a sentimental spot in my heart for this play because I was lucky enough to get to perform in it and I think that the dark comedy finds its way into everyone's hearts. There are also strong relations between sisters which I find quite endearing. My favourite play currently is a musical called Ride the Cyclone written by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell about a roller coaster accident and choir children that are thrust into the competition of their lives. The characters and songs make this play what it is, and I just thought the way it was performed was spectacular. Both plays were ironically set in Saskatchewan so maybe that's the place to set good theatre? Beats me.”
Q- Is there anything you would like to add?
A - “I am honestly just really excited to show everyone's hard work here and I cannot wait for everyone else to be able to be a part of this incredible show. Dr. Laflamme is a fantastic director and she has truly made this an unmissable show for UFV students and staff.”
Anatole Smith | PROPS MASTER
Anatole is a member of the Props team for this production. He has enjoyed looking for objects and/or finding them.
Hunter Holden | SET DESIGNER
For the production Ghosting of Sumas Lake, Hunter is co-head of set design and is working alongside his crew members on props. This is not only his first production at UFV, but also his first time working behind the scenes as a crew member, as his prior theatre experience was solely onstage. He has enjoyed being able to share his creative visions in the making of this production, it has been an honour to work with everyone, and to observe the process of an idea becoming a reality.
Simon Davis | SET & PROPS ASST.
"Hello, I'm Simon and for this production I will be working on the set design, as well as assisting with the construction of props. I have done theatre all throughout high school, but this will be my first production with UFV, as well as my first production working behind the scenes. I've greatly enjoyed being able to share my creative vision for the show and am very excited to see it all put together. I hope to be able to work on another production with UFV in the future."
The River has a Mind of Her Own
Written & Performed by Sheri-D Wilson C.M | D. Litt
Recorded by Calvin Becker @ Darkside Studios
Sheri-D Wilson is the award-winning author and creator of 13 books, 4 short films, and 4 albums which combine music and poetry.
In 2019 she was appointed one to the Order of Canada, for her contributions as a Spoken Word Poet and her leadership in the community. In 2017, she received her Doctor of Letters—Honoris Causa from Kwantlen University. Poet Laureate Emeritus of Calgary 2018–2020.
A strong advocate for social change and community building, Founder & Director of:
Calgary Spoken Word Society (2003-2022)
The Spoken Word Program | The Banff Centre (2005-2012)
Sheri-D lives in Calgary & Vancouver, where she’s busy as the emblem of Canada – editing a 350-page epic poem to be published in 2023.
insta sheridwilson |twitter @SheriDWilson |YouTube @sheridwilson