Kingston’s Kick and Push Festival featured a heartwarming interactive installation called Tin-jathat ran in City Park from Aug. 25 to 28.
Written and directed by Brendon Allen, Tin-ja centers around a stressed father who’s been busy with work during these difficult pandemic times.
Kingston-born actor Eirik Rutherford plays the main character of the father while occasionally breaking the fourth wall to address the audience as himself. This allows young audience members to engage with the production, by answering his questions or volunteering as actors in specific sections of the show.
Each performance is unique, as children are encouraged to participate and share personal stories. The audience interaction allows kids to see themselves in the story and form a deeper connection to it—the possibilities within this exciting form of interactive storytelling are endless.
Playing on the word ‘ninja,’ Tin-ja’s story unfolds through the off-stage voice of Jinx, the son of Eirik’s character, as he demonstrates his cleverness and creativity by recording a detailed voice memo to convince his dad to buy him a phone.
In a humorous sales pitch inspired by his father’s business profession, Jinx’s voice memo becomes a scavenger hunt guiding his dad to a telephone made from tin cans and a complex network of strings connected to his best friend’s house.
Jinx’s situation should be familiar to most: he’s unable to see his friend in-person and struggles to communicate with him because he’s from a different household.
Tin-ja highlights the wonders of technology and communication. It reiterates the importance of staying in contact with loved ones during tough times.
This message is further presented to the audience through the interactive notecards hanging around the stage. Spectators are encouraged to leave their own notes with an answer to the question “If you had a tin can telephone that could reach anywhere, who would you want to speak to at the other end?”
The lives of the characters in Tin-ja are reminders to slow down and enjoy the present, rather than focusing on the busy, stressful parts of life—especially during isolating times like these when fun, laughter, and peacefulness can seem difficult to find.
While kids can enjoy the play’s humour and wholesome feel, Tin-ja will likely evoke nostalgia in adults as they reminisce on the happiness of childhood. The story emphasizes the importance of imagination, encouraging its audience not to lose childlike joy and creativity with age.
In a present where kids are getting antsy, and parents are running thin on ideas on how to entertain them, Tin-ja is a trip to the past, bursting with childish joy and imagination—perfect for viewers of all ages.
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