See High-Flying Tall Ship Drama From Shoreline Seat

Imagine sitting down at Squalicum Marina, watching the sun set behind a tall ship rigged not with just sails, but also aerial ropes, video screens, and a theater set. A show like no other, Caravan Stage Co. presents “The Nomadic Tempest” to be performed on the tall ship Amara Zee at the harbor’s Zuanich Point Park in Bellingham Aug. 7-11. Caravan Stage Co. brings an original theater piece featuring aerial artists as monarch butterflies, struggling against the tides of climate change.

Hailing from Sooke, B.C., the Caravan Stage Co. has been touring—via literal horse-drawn caravan, and now tall ships—for the past 30 years. This year is a homecoming for artistic director Paul Kirby and producer Adriana Kelder, founders of the stage company, as “The Nomadic Tempest” is on their Salish Sea tour, performing in Canadian and Washington state ports this summer.

“The Nomadic Tempest,” Kirby said, was inspired by the “millions of people fleeing war-torn and climate-ravaged countries.” It contains poetry, metaphor, visual imagery, and aerial artists telling a story of environmental calamity. Kirby said the writing is collaborative among himself, Kelder, and their crew of music composers, video production designers, prop makers and costume designers. “The performers themselves have a lot of latitude and opportunity to develop their characters in ways that sometimes aren’t necessarily on the page, but they’ve managed to bring out some incredible characteristics in these odd and diverse characters,” Kirby says.

This show is immersive for the audience, featuring live and video performances with the monarchs that speak in four languages—Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, and a Coast Salish language. Alisha Davidson plays the narrator, the “soothsayer,” and she describes her role as an ancestor to both the characters and the audience, “telling a story and passing down a message.” That message is one of participation.

A local organization, Students for the Salish Sea, is hosting the show, an ideal pairing for the group and Caravan itself. Each fosters awareness of climate change. “We saw this as an amazing opportunity to bring a really vibrant show to the community of Bellingham,” says Jane Werner, co-founder of the Salish student group, “and also spread some awareness about the effect of climate change and the effects of fossil fuels on the health of our local community.” Werner says they will be donating a portion of ticket sales to a collective of indigenous nation groups fighting the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline project. The controversial oil pipeline would run from the province of Alberta to British Columbia.

“The Nomadic Tempest” aboard the Amara Zee promises to be a rare show in Bellingham waters. Tickets are suggested donations between $10-$30 and can be found on Caravan Stage Co.’s website ( and through their Facebook event page.

“It’s great to bring the audience out into the elements, it’s great to…have us characters surround the audience and play around them and have them feel like, ‘I’m in the world’ [of the play],” Davidson says. “Whoever comes to this show…this immersive experience will have a very long-lasting impression on them.”

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"'It’s great to bring the audience out into the elements, it’s great to…have us characters surround the audience and play around them and have them feel like, ‘I’m in the world’ [of the play],' - Alisha Davidson"