Ship's Co. seeking county funding for 2012 season

Andrew Wagstaff
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UPPER NAPPAN - Ship's Company Theatre asked Cumberland County council for financial support this week, unveiling plans for its upcoming 2012 season in the process.

Theatre board chairman David Beatty and artistic producer Matthew Tiffin revealed another marquee lineup of plays, workshops and concerts, including a mainstage production of Amherst native Charlie Rhindress's popular comedy, The Maritime Way of Life.

"This year we're focusing very much on comedy and laughter," said Tiffin. "We want to create a season of laughter for the thousands of tourists who come to our shows every year."

Along with The Maritime Way of Life, which Tiffin described as the funniest comedy he has ever read, the mainstage will also feature a production of The Nuttalls, by renowned playwright Michael Healy.

The Second Stage will feature a musical performance titled The Legends of Country Music, while this year's concert series will feature seven shows from the likes of Frank MacKay, Hal Bruce, and Neon Highway.

Additional shows will include a production of Shakespeare on Trial at the start of the school year, and a new program called Labour Day Laughs, featuring readings of Stephen Leacock by well-known Nova Scotia actor Richard Donat.

"The whole season is about fun and laughter, with as broad an appeal as we can for people," said Tiffin.

The theatre depends on grants from the three levels of government to make up about one-third of its annual revenue, according to Beatty, who said another third comes from donations and memberships, and the last third comes from box office returns and concessions.

"As much as anything it's a community service bringing culture to the community," said Beatty. "We see our mandate as not really to be a money-making operation... It's just not a paying business."

He said government contributions allow ticket prices to be subsidized so it is more affordable for people to come to the shows.

For most of its 28 years, Ship's Company Theatre has operated in the black, and is now trying to put away some money for capital improvements such as repairs to the deteriorating Kipawo, the theatre's iconic ship. The main theatre facility has also reached the age of eight years and is beginning to need some maintenance, he pointed out.

The theatre representatives asked the county for a $5,000 contribution, and council referred the request to its budget deliberations.

Organizations: Maritime Way, Cumberland County council, Tiffin.The theatre

Geographic location: Amherst, Country Music, Nova Scotia

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