Young artist brings history to life on the streets of her hometown

Salon Theatre

By Hollie Pratt-Campbell

When Anna Sudac moved from Kingston to Toronto to study musical theatre in 2003, she always hoped that she might someday return to the Limestone City to live and work after completing her studies.

Thanks in part to her work as a writer and performer with SALON Theatre Productions, she was able to do just that a decade later. Sudac moved home permanently after four years of travelling between Toronto and Kingston to work on various projects, including SALON’s partnership with the Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission during the summer months.

“There’s the pace of Kingston somewhere in my system,” she says. “So as much as I really loved living in Toronto for a lot of reasons, I think it maybe overwhelmed me in other ways that blocked my creativity.”

Headshot of Anna SudacAnd Sudac’s creativity and talent have certainly been put to good use with SALON. She’s one of seven writers and performers Executive Producer and Artistic Director Jim Garrard has assembled to historically animate the streets of Kingston and perform in plays intended to educate the public on Canadian heritage in an entertaining way. On any given day during the summer, Sir John A. Macdonald, George Brown and other prominent historical figures can be found downtown performing and interacting with passersby. SALON also travels to schools to present the kid-friendly play Sir John Eh? The Road Show, and sometimes even performs on VIA Rail trains, making history come alive for unsuspecting passengers.

Like Sudac, all of the young performers are either from Kingston or have other ties to the Limestone City.

“[Garrard’s] vision is that people with professional performance training should be able to come back to Kingston and make a percentage of their yearly income living and working in Kingston and creating new work,” Sudac explains. She is confident that the work SALON does helps locals and tourists alike to connect with history.

“What we do looks a lot like other things. It looks a lot like theatre and it looks a lot like concerts sometimes. Other times it looks a lot like stand-up comedy or sketch comedy. It’s really accessible. So when we do our performances, it stimulates historical interest in people.”

Indeed, Sudac notes that working with SALON has made her and her fellow writer/performers think a lot more about history.

“I think because of the John A. stuff we’ve all become really excited about history. And we just really love working together. It’s fun to watch because it’s fun to do.”

Learning more about Macdonald and his contemporaries has also enhanced Sudac’s own appreciation for her hometown.

“It’s made me feel more aware of my roots here, and I’m kind of proud of them too. This is a great city. One thing I know [about Macdonald] is that he really was very loyal to Kingston and he loved it here. A lot of cool things that other cities don’t have, we have because of him. There is something very special about Kingston.”

SALON’s space in the Tett will serve as a small administrative and meeting place, which will give the group the ongoing opportunity to work across disciplines with other members of the collective. You can also find SALON at their performance space in the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church manse.