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A Caretaker's Journey, by Erin Eldershaw

Updated: Jul 14

Hello Pollywogs!

Person with red clown nose and grey hat taking a selfie
"Soots," Erin's clown. Photo: Erin Eldershaw

I'm Erin Eldershaw. I'm a member of the 2021 Summer Company - I was in the 2020 Summer Company, too! I'm a performer, creator, producer and educator specializing in acting, stage combat, and movement. I graduated from George Brown College's Classical Theatre Conservatory program, and have since worked with a multitude of theatre companies across Ontario.

As we enter mid July, the Company is gearing up for our first in-person performance: "Caretakers," premiering Friday, July 16th 2021. We're rehearsing in sunshine and rain, and we could not be more excited to share it with you.


Last year the 2020 Summer Company was inspired by Clay and Paper Theatre as we re-imagined their "Cyclops," project (Cycling-Oriented-Puppet-Squads). This year, led by Frog in Hand's Andrew Gaboury and Alice Cavanagh, all ten of our Summer Company 2021 clowns, The Caretakers, will be let loose along the Waterfront Trail in Port Credit. Our red noses will provide a surprising, heart-warming addition to the beautiful views. Catch us in Tall Oaks Park, St. Lawrence Park, and JJ Plaus Park. Through the day the clowns will chat with passersby, collecting joy. In the evening we will celebrate with a parade of glowing puppets.

Group of people in a line
Caretakers rehearsal. L to R: S. Harkness, D. Jezerinac, K. Seibold, Z. Kwan, M. Riano, A. Alemona. Image: Erin Eldershaw
“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”- Edith Wharton

Above images by Colleen Snell. 2021 Summer Company in Caretakers rehearsal.

Aaand how does one collect joy?

Well, first we discover the clowns that live within us: we unearth our own joy. We've been training in clown and physical theatre with Alice & Andrew for five weeks now, honing our skills and crafting our characters - learning their tics and gestures. Next, we will connect with others, collecting joy by asking passersby to help us: would they share a happy memory, or something that makes them smile? What's their favourite thing to do in the summer? Do they have a favourite pizza topping? We will write everything down and bring these anecdotes to our evening parade - the Parade of the Bird Spirits.

Group in a line walking in a park
Andrew with the Summer Company in rehearsal. Image: Erin Eldershaw

Our happy clown community believes in the Myth of Bird Spirits; these are the guiding theme of our evening parade. These Spirits are made of light, they live deep within the Great Lakes and travel to the shore, spreading their light and good cheer. On our evening parade we will bring along glowing puppets made by Clay & Paper Theatre and Andrew Gaboury, including a giant loon. For our group, the loon represents tranquility, serenity, and a reawakening of old hopes, wishes and dreams.


We hope our goofy, smiling faces (under our masks) will re-awaken and amplify the joy that comes from within. With this project we aim to smile and laugh together. Stay tuned to Frog in Hand's Instagram (@froginhand) to see where we've been, and where we are going (especially in the case of rain!). You can catch the Caretakers every Friday in July in Port Credit, from around 5pm-7pm and again from 8pm-10pm.


See you there, Pollywogs! Erin out!


The 2021 Summer Company is funded by the Canada Summer Jobs program, Hazel McCallion Foundation, Port Credit Community Foundation and the City of Mississauga. Thanks to our supporters for their continuing generosity.