Saskatchewan musician Jeffrey Straker teamed up with former CBC host Kelley Jo Burke for a new musical. The storyline draws inspiration from Camp Firefly, a camp for LGBTQ youth.
'Stories that were about absolutely battling for a sense of self in the world ... It just knocked my socks off.' - Kelley Jo Burke
Straker and Burke both had an opportunity to work as an artist in residence at the camp, and say they came away amazed by the stories they heard. Straker came as a songwriter to help the teenagers use songwriting as a way to explore topics.
"To see and hear some of the things that these people were thinking and talking about at the young age they kind of blew me away ... and it was profound and it was incredible," Straker said. "It let me get a glimpse into the youth or the childhood or whatever that some people go through as they sort of grapple with their sexual identity."
Burke said she was also blown away by her visit.
"I came home from camp and had to sit by myself in a room for a week, because I had simply absorbed quite a lot of really amazing people," she said. "Some of them were wonderfully warm stories, some of them were absolutely tragic stories, but stories that were about absolutely battling for a sense of self in the world ... It just knocked my socks off."
Burke then decided to put together a fictional musical, not set at Camp Firefly or with true accounts of what happened, but inspired by the stories she collected. She recruited Straker, originally just to use his existing songs as part of the musical, but Straker soon began to write original songs for the production. He's enjoyed the new challenge.
"Tiptoeing into this land of writing for this genre, I'd never done that before," he said. "All of a sudden, the rule book comes away."
The project has been selected by the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre for Development.