The Play: Referred to by superstitious actors as ‘the Scottish play’, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a tragedy in which appalling earthly crimes have lasting supernatural repercussions.
‘By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes’
Promised a golden future as ruler of Scotland by three sinister witches, and spurred on by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan to ensure his ambitions come true. But he soon learns the meaning of terror – killing once, he must kill again and again, and the dead return to haunt him. A story of war, witchcraft and bloodshed, Macbeth also depicts the relationship between husbands and wives, and the risks they are prepared to take to achieve their desires.
The Production: BarnDoor Productions is Perth’s original community theatre. Their
roots go back to 1983 with Perth Summer Theatre, a professional summer theatre company that ran well into the 1990s, then morphed to become BarnDoor Productions. After two seasons of touring their productions around various sites in Lanark County, they were instrumental in the establishment, design and construction of Perth’s Studio Theatre in 1997, becoming the Resident Production Company there for eleven years, presenting a mix of productions from favourite old chestnuts to modern works to original plays to the classics.
After leaving the Studio Theatre in 2008, Producing Directors David and Janice Jacklin purchased and renovated a vacant property, Charley’s Car Wash, opening it as the Full Circle Theatre in August of 2011. FCT, as it is known, is an air-conditioned, ground-level, barrier-free theatre that features, among other things, century-old leather and wood seating that was salvaged from Perth’s Balderson Theatre, a movie and vaudeville house which ran from 1915 to 1958. Full Circle Theatre hosts musical events, touring plays, a film series and, of course, BarnDoor’s own work. BarnDoor Productions are completing their 24th season with the show you are going to see some scenes from, their 128th production overall. And that’s all been done without one penny in taxpayers’ dollars.
In addition to presenting 128 productions over the years, being instrumental in the creation of two different theatres in a town that originally had none, and setting a standard of excellence that, in the words of one reviewer, “belies their amateur status”, the Jacklins were recognized in 2012 by the Queen herself, each of them receiving the Queen Elizabeth the Second Diamond Jubilee Medal for, as stated in the citation, their “contributions to Canada”.
Those contributions are going beyond the borders of Canada, though, as original plays created by BarnDoor Productions are also being produced internationally, with recent productions in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and an upcoming one in Australia! Not bad for “the little theatre that could.”
BarnDoor’s 128th production is a return to their roots. Macbeth is their 12th production of one of Shakespeare’s works – if you don’t count the two times they mounted The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It is truly one of the Bard’s greatest plays: it contains some of him most remarkable poetry, is filled with action, mystery, danger and all things dark and noisome. It’s simply great theatre.
See the full play between August 2-11.
The Play: It’s a splendid moon-filled night at Coley’s Point in August, 1926. Eighteen-year-old Jacob Mercer has returned from Toronto to the tiny Newfoundland outport, hoping to win back his former sweetheart, Mary Snow. But Mary has become engaged to wealthy Jerome McKenzie, and she is still hurt and bewildered by Jacob’s abrupt departure a year earlier. She will not be easily wooed.
The Production: There is a lot of Newfoundland excitement brewing in theatre these days, with the amazing musical Come From Away playing in all the big venues. Perth Studio Theatre wanted to brew a little Nfld celebration of their own, and came up with this amazing play by Canada’s own David French. An interesting note is that the large scale musical Come From Away, and this “two hander” (a cast of only 2), Salt-Water Moon, both deal with real places and actual history. In 2001 after 911 all planes had to be rerouted from touching down in the United States, and Gander was the place where they landed. That is the basis for Come From Away. In Salt-Water Moon, set in 1926 in Coley’s Point, two young people are living in the aftermath of the World War 1, in which both their father’s fought while their mother’s waited and the children had to grow up far too quickly.
I am so proud to have two newly graduated Algonquin College Performing Arts students taking on the complex and poignant roles of teenagers Jacob Mercer and Mary Snow. And I am excited that Jacob Mercer is being played by Westport’s own Corgand Janeway-Svendsen. Jacob Mercer’s co-star is Mary Snow, played by the talented Ottawa based actress Jasmine Halish.
A two hander is not an easy play to perform. The relationships need to be electric, since it will be the only relationship the audience will see all afternoon or evening. It needs to excite and captivate. The relationship has to be full of banter. The actors need to either connect or conflict – resulting in possibilities of betrayal, conciliation, destruction, and attraction. You will see Jacob and Mary pounce on each other’s mistakes and experience moments of madness, as they share family secrets and personal trials that no one else has heard, and as they try and justify to each other, and to themselves, why they chose the paths they are on. Another challenge with a two hander is that they are the story tellers and all the characters in the play. They take on multiple characters, painting pictures of each colourful person that is introduced as they spin the yarn. One minute Jacob is a reclusive tooth –charmer, and the next he is Rose of Sharon in the big city of Toronto. Mary is her sister Dot in a St. John’s home for young girls, and the next she is portraying her employer, Lady Emma.
As well as being a two hander, this play has not intermission and no scene changes. It takes place in real time.. On a moonlit evening, Mary is looking at the stars through a spy glass, waiting for her fiancé, the local school teacher to arrive. Imagine her surprise when her former beau strolls into the yard, back from Canada. Ancient history, best left buried – Jacob having been gone for a year, with not letters sent. Or is it?
See the full play between August 8-18.
The Play: The first and most famous story of The Chronicles of Narnia has become a musical presentation of this unique, enchanted world filled with creatures and spirits of myth and fable, both good and evil, demonic and transcendent. The principal inhabitants, however, are the intelligent talking animals ruled by the majestic King Aslan, the great lion of Narnia. Though Aslan is often absent from the land (so that his very existence is doubted by some), he returns when the need for him is greatest. And entering Narnia at a moment of high adventure are some children—plucked from our world in unexpected ways to help Narnia and to learn from their Narnia odyssey lessons of courage, unselfishness and wisdom that will help them grow.
The Production: “You can’t imagine how beautiful it was” sings Tumnus to Lucy about Narnia before the White Witch turned it into a cold winter wasteland. The musical Narnia written by Jules Tasca, is based on C.S. Lewis’ classic story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The show’s music was composed by Thomas Tierney who has written music for many award-winning musicals and the lyrics, which advance the story were written by Ted Drachman. Together they have created a unique, enchanted show filled with magical creatures and spirits. Many who have read Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia have theorized on what it is really about from the effects of the ravages of war, to links to the Christian story and how Aslan is a type of Jesus character due to his willingness to sacrifice himself to save another. However, at one point when Mr. Lewis was being asked about what inspired him to write the Chronicles, he didn’t really provide an answer but cautioned that the guesses by outsiders have always been wrong. Always.
What is of interest is that during World War II, Lewis and his family hosted three little girls evacuated from London. Perhaps this could be linked to the beginning of the story being the four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond having to come to live in Professor Digory Kirke’s manor to be safe from the London bombings. There they encounter a strict housekeeper, Mrs. Macready who makes them feel unwelcome, unsympathetic to their situation. So of course, there is incentive to escape from the reality of it all. Regardless of what inspired Mr. Lewis to write these magical stories with the universal theme of good vs. evil, the story continues to be engaging and entertaining. Narnia presents a strange and at times scary world, as seen from perspective of children, who, when confronted with temptation and ethical challenges respond with courage, unselfishness and wisdom. The Smiths Falls Community Theatre has a tradition of choosing summer shows that involve young children and as this show provided a great number of opportunities to involve young actors, it was chosen as their 2019 season’s summer offering. In fact, there are 38 cast members, of which 26 are young actors, the youngest being 7. When counting all of the crew, the total people involved comes to 60, all who have and will volunteer countless number of hours to bring this story to life. We hope many come to enjoy and marvel at what they have created on The Station Theatre stage, beginning on August 9th@ 7:30 for two weekends ending on August 18th.
See the full play between August 9-18.