Dance show about addiction by Walkerville theatre grad playing at Windsor fringe

A graduate of Walkerville Collegiate Institute — whose story of seven people battling various addictions varying — is bringing her work to her hometown for the very first time.

Kristen Pepper, director and choreographer of HOOKED, also performs in the show

Walkerville Collegiate Institute graduate, Kristen Pepper, wanted to bring her show about battling addiction back to her hometown of Windsor after its debut in Toronto. (Vincent Perri)

A graduate of Walkerville Collegiate Institute is bringing a story of seven people battling addiction — ranging from food to drugs — to her hometown for the very first time.

HOOKED, directed and choreographed by Kristen Pepper, is a story about addiction told through dance. It's shown at the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe Festival starting Tuesday.

"I find, especially in today's current age where there's lots of insecurity and a lot of doubt about what we're going to do and what we're going to be, we tend to lend and attach ourselves to different things like social media, cell phones, [our] career and the idea of power and affection," said Pepper.

Pepper said it was difficult to rely solely on movement to convey the story. (Vincent Perri)

From Toronto to Windsor

Before coming to Pepper's hometown of Windsor, her work debuted at the the Toronto Fringe Festival in July, where it received "really great reviews."

"Which helped because with Fringe, there's 160 shows and people don't know what to see so they very much take reviews as bible," said Pepper.

Pepper made the decision to bring the show back to Windsor because she wanted to give her cast members more opportunities to shine. 

It took three months of preparation for the first series of shows in Toronto.

Pepper choreographed the show and first brought it to the Toronto Fringe Festival in July. (Michael Hargreaves/CBC)

Relying solely on movement

Though HOOKED uses dance cues to relay its narrative to the audience, Pepper still uses a script for the show. She said it doesn't feature words, but rather specific entrances and exits which emulate the downtown core of a bustling city like Toronto.

"On top of that, [I] made choreography that propelled the story forward and weren't just there for dance-sake, but it actually contributed to the story."

Pepper performs as a dancer alongside six other cast members.

Pepper said the sound which accompanies the choreography also matches the difficult topics explored in the story. (Vincent Perri)

She said it was difficult to share a really important message without leaning on spoken words.

One example she points to is one character's addiction to heroin, which involves the dancers using "ticking" movements which are very "angular and jarring."

"We have a very glitchy soundscape to match that ... That's our 'mania' section when everyone loses it," said Pepper

"Because we built that up so much about how much those addictions are important. So when we lose them, it's life. It's everything to us."

The nearly hour-long show runs until Sunday at the Olde Walkerville Theatre. Tickets are available online.