Badge of Awesome Communities invites you to share your favourite things to see and do in cool destinations around the world. We caught up with the folks from Calithumpians Tour & Theatre Company — one of our featured attractions from New Brunswick — to learn about what they have to offer.
What makes Calithumpians Tour & Theatre Company awesome?
Calithumpians: We’re an outdoor summer theatre company based in the downtown of our province’s capital, Fredericton. We offer fun & unique experiences that make tourists’ visits more memorable, and give locals a better appreciation for our city and Province. What’s even better is a lot of what we do is free and open to the public! Our company has been active in the community for almost 40 years, and is made up of three main parts.
Theatre in the Park
Our outdoor summer theatre troupe is known as the Calithumpians. Named after an ancient tradition where young people would dress up in costume and disguise and parade around the streets, “Calithumpians” translates to “people who make beautiful noise” – and that’s just what we do! From Canada Day to Labour Day, our Calithumpian troupe performs a free theatre show daily in Officer’s Square, a public park in our city’s downtown – a tradition we’ve been keeping up since 1981!
The troupe of 10 performs four different shows in repertory throughout the season – two full cast shows, and two half cast shows, collaboratively written by the performers, our Director, and Producer. Each year, we produce at least one play relating to the environment, while the others focus on local and/or national history, or other social issues. In everything we do, we aim to educate our audiences. To this end, we use music and comedy to get our messages across in a palatable way – as the song goes, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!”
This same troupe guides the Haunted Hike Monday to Saturday nights – our signature ghost walk that takes you on a lantern-lit tour of Fredericton’s scary, eerie areas. A theatrical take on a traditional guided tour, The Haunted Hike gives a glimpse into the paranormal activity and spooky history of the area as the group encounters several phantom thespians along the way. The Haunted Hike is $14 for adults and $9 for kids, with group and family rates available.
Our troupe of Historical Interpreters is known as The Fredericton Fencibles. During our summer season, they occupy an old Guard House in the city’s Historic Garrison District – an area of town that was once a British Army Garrison. Named in honour of the Fencible Regiments that defended the area in their day (think de-Fence), The Fredericton Fencibles reenact the period post-confederation, when the British Army withdrew from Canada and Militiamen were the order of the day!
The Fencibles provide Heritage tours of downtown Fredericton in English and French, detailing the personages, architecture, and quirky histories of our Capital’s past. Twice daily they have walking tours of downtown Fredericton, as well step-on tours for Motorcoach groups that book in advance. They also do what’s called “site animation,” reenacting life in the Garrison in 1869, wearing period costumes, and welcoming tourists to the Historic Garrison District. They give tours of the Guard House and Soldier’s Barracks, which are set up to look as they would have back in the day, complete with artifacts that have been recovered and uncovered over the years. They also perform a free theatre show daily at 4:30pm, featuring music from the time period, and send-ups of life in the Military in Fredericton circa 1812, 1867, and 1914.
Drama Camps for Youth
The third aspect of our company is geared more towards locals, which is our “Act Now!” Drama Camps. These camps give youth aged 6 to 14 a chance to experience theatre first hand, as they write a show the Calithumpian way using collective creation. Campers participate in workshops led by the Calithumpians for singing, dance, and improv comedy, and the weeklong camp ends with a performance of their very own show as an opening act to the Calithumpians every Friday at noon. Our camps help foster confidence and creative ability in kids, and the really awesome thing about them is that so many of our actors have come up through our camps, which we started back in the early 90’s.
Although our summer season only lasts from Canada Day to Labour Day, we pack a lot into a day! And we also offer programs outside of our regular summer season – Haunted Hikes can be booked in the Spring and Fall months, tours can be booked year-round, and we’ve been known to do dinner theatre, murder mysteries, and performances for conventions and events!