Three-act show takes flight at art gallery

[attach]1480[/attach]Beach-based Whetstone Theatre’s upcoming production of Wingéd transforms downtown’s DeLeon White Gallery into a theatre space this month.

The one-man production, which recounts the mythological stories of winged beings Icarus, Lucifer and Phoenix to look at themes of identity and self-discovery is written and performed by Toronto theatre great David Tomlinson.

“David is a extraordinary writer and performer,” says Diana Kolpak who directs and produces the April 29-May 8 show and travels with Tomlinson every summer to Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron for a writing retreat.

Tomlinson’s Sunstroke: Icarus Speaks — the beginning of Wingéd focusing on the Greek myth of the Fall of Icarus — was presented at the Rhubarb Festival at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre in 2006 with Kolpak directing.

Tomlinson, feeling something more had to be told about winged characters, spent the years that followed turning the production into what it is today.

It was on Manitoulin Island, where Tomlinson discovered with the help of Kolpak that other mythological characters Lucifer and Phoenix had wings, and fit his eventual trilogy.

“I grew up fascinated by Greek mythology,” says Tomlinson who studied clown with famous artists John Turner and Michael Kennard.

“As a kid I would have loved to have flied.”

As a fan of Greek mythology, Tomlinson was interested in Icarus as it told a cautionary tale of a son who dares to go against his father by flying too close to the sun when the two escape Crete. He failed, and fell to his death.

To Tomlinson the great myth is more relatable when it’s looked at in a simpler father and son relationship of trying to please one another.

Tomlinson said he sees elements of Icarus, Lucifer and Phoenix in everybody.

“I think those energies are at work in everybody,” he explains.

“He has taken all three characters and stripped them from the mythologies,” Kolpak adds.

By doing so, Tomlinson’s work — a series of three monologues — draws the audience in, making them question their own identities, who they see themselves as and how they deal with others in life, she says.

Kolpak describes Wingéd as simple yet beautiful.

The production’s lighting design is by Sharon Di Genova, with video and imaging by Jacob Niedzwiecki, both of Whetstone.

The audience can identify with all three characters, Tomlinson and Kolpak both say.

“I hope that they do react,” Tomlinson says, adding he learned a lot about himself in the course of the creating Wingéd.

“I am a braver person now than I have thought I would ever be.”