Tributes are often made to remember people once they are gone, but that is not the case for Alexander Kasser’s latest production. From Nov. 10 to Nov. 13, Montclair State University presented the world premiere of “In The Fire,” a tribute to George Albert Treddenick, the last living founder of the Winnipeg Fire Fighters Museum, created by his daughter to help share his story.
Holly Treddenick, the mind behind the concept and creation of “In The Fire,” is close to her father, who this show is inspired by. She is seen performing amazing acts both on the stage and up in the air while a choir, Opus 8, joins her throughout the beautiful performance.
From aerial dances to dancing with flames, along with set pieces that connected to the theme, 14 different scenes were used to tell the story of George Treddenick. A firefighter’s uniform suspended in the air represents the man to who this is paying homage to. Holly dances with the uniform in the scene “Dance on Dad’s Feet.” It is then taken off in the next scene and worn as a cape as the performer parades around while the song “My Winnipeg” by Jason Staczek plays.
Angel Bustillo, a junior English major, said he loved the repetition shown throughout the performance.
“I feel like [the repetition] fit well for the story that they were telling,” Bustillo said. “They talked about how the firefighter can’t save someone, and it is constantly shown over again. I feel like this gives a great insight to someone who knows that not everyone can be saved, and it’s painful for the person doing it. It’s always something that I think is important to remind people that they can do their best, but they can’t guarantee to save them all.”
One thing the performance focuses on is that this is a tribute to someone who is still here today. My favorite scene, although the moment she eats fire is a close second, is “A Conversation with George.” In this segment, Holly calls her father over the phone in real-time and their conversation is heard by everyone in the audience. During one performance, he didn’t pick up but called back right after. I thought that it was planned, but it turns out it wasn’t.
Holly, and the show’s director, Monica Dottor, who have been working together since 1999, gave insight into the circumstances and meaning surrounding the phone call.
Dottor said it is another way to honor not just George, but others as well.
“I think part of it is that the show is very reverent, and it’s very much about honoring him but also honoring rescue workers and first responders and emergency workers,” Dottor said. “And because George is still alive, we thought it would’ve been great to loop him in somehow, and so this idea of the phone call came about.”
Holly said she calls her father during the day before that part of the show starts as a way to help ease his nerves.
“He definitely knows that we phone him,” Holly said. “He needs to be prepped. He gets nervous. I’m pretty close to my parents, both of my parents, so we talk regularly.”
I had thought the conversation was pre-recorded, but each night is a real, live conversation that is unrehearsed, adding to the element of this being a tribute to a loved one who is still here today. George could be heard saying, “I wish I could add more,” during one of the performances when Holly thanked him for sharing his story. It was truly a wholesome moment and, overall, a beautiful tribute. Through “In The Fire” and Holly sharing her father’s story, audience members can be reminded to thank anyone who resonates with George and other people in service.