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History

Created in 1970, by Paul Kirby and Adriana Kelder, the Caravan started as a one wagon puppet show traveling on Vancouver island it grew to become a major theatrical organization with a 25 person company of actors, musicians, artists and technicians touring in six large wagons each one pulled by a team of matched bay Clydesdales. The mandate of the Caravan was to bring original theatrical productions directly into the lives of people who seldom had the opportunity to experience the performing arts.

Ship building credits

 

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Fundamental to the Caravan shows is the inherent manifestation of the value of co-operative work and participation.Believing that theatre can and should restore to people of a sense of their own worth and power, the Caravan strives to create a theatre of hope and celebration.Traveling at two Clydesdale miles an hour, the Caravan, with its brightly painted wagons accompanied by a brass band and calliope calling one and all, made a spectacular entrance into parks, school yards, campuses, or pastures. The shows were staged in the eye-catching 80 ft tensile tent, the Cosmodrome, which was ringed with colourful murals depicting various scenes on the outside and inside walls. The wagons, placed within the Cosmodrome, were transformed into a variety of “sets” depicting the scenery of the show the Caravan was touring.
In this way the Caravan traveled over 20,000 horse drawn miles from the ghost towns of British Columbia, to the city parks of San Francisco, from the seashore towns of Oregon to the desert communities of eastern Washington, from the streets of Toronto and Detroit to the mails of southern Florida, from the hospitals of Alberta to the school yards of northern New York.In 1993, after spending a year creating and producing a spectacular seven hour show on the state of the earth’s environment, entitled “THE COMING”, with performances at the World Theatre Festival in Toronto, the Caravan embarked on a new dream – the Caravan StageBarge. We sought to create a tall-ship venue that could provide the staging potential for the innovative theatre style of the Caravan.
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We came up with the Caravan version of a Thames River Sailing Barge, 30 meter in length, 7.2 meter beam, and a 1.3 meter draft. This would enable the Caravan to stage the shows on the entire deck, masts and rigging of the vessel, and on the surrounding water and land. The audience would watch the performances from the shore or dock or riverbank, the boat would contain a complete lighting and sound system, hydraulics, and generators, and both sail and diesel power. The Caravan Stage would be able to tour in any waterway and perform in any location, regardless of logistics and services. All we needed was four years of hard labour and two million dollars. Now, the dream is a reality and the history not only continues but is also a whole new book.

Our voyaging routes

Horse Drawn Magic by Dorothy Todd HénautNational Film Board of Canada