Ship’s Company sets sail with new captain

Andrew Wagstaff
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2013 season to feature local-based stories

Ship’s Company Theatre artistic producer Natasha MacLellan is busy preparing for the company’s 2013 season, which will include world premiere productions of Diligent River Daughter (July 2-28) and Making Contact (Aug. 7 – Sept. 1.

PARRSBORO – Two local stories will received world class productions this summer as part of Ship’s Company Theatre’s 2013 production season, with a new artistic producer at the company’s helm.

Natasha MacLellan is preparing for what she expects to be a busy season in Parrsboro, as the company launches two world premieres along with another three-day September show, a packed Monday night concert series, and more special surprises.

Leading off on the mainstage will be Diligent River Daughter, an adaptation by Scott Burke of the book by Parrsboro writer Bruce Graham, directed by Ron Jenkins, which will run from July 2-28. It will be followed by Making Contact, a fictional story set in Amherst by Amherst native Charlie Rhindress, directed by MacLellan herself, which will run from Aug. 7 to Sept. 1.

The two show appealed to MacLellan in that they look both at where we were, with Diligent River Daughter set in 1914, and where we are now, with Making Contact set in present-day.

“There’s something interesting in that to me,” she said. “Maritimers love stories and our history, but we’re also curious people and we like to talk about what’s going on. We’re always talking to each other about each other, and I think that’s what theatre is, really.”

A native of Margaree, a career in drama was always in MacLellan’s crosshairs, having been influenced by a visiting show from Mulgrave Road Theatre at her school when she was young, and later becoming a part of her school’s drama club.

While her initial plans were to pursue an acting career, her studies at King’s & Dalhousie also opened her up to the idea of directing and writing. Her career has taken her all over the East Coast and across Canada, including a performing role in two previous Ship’s Company shows – MacGregor’s Hard Ice Cream and Gas in 2007, and Out the Meadow in 2011.

When previous artistic producer Matthew Tiffin announced his departure, she jumped at the chance to come to Ship’s Company for a long-term commitment.

“The mandate is attractive to me, doing new plays,” said MacLellan. “I particularly love and appreciate that Ship’s does theatre in the summer, it doesn’t do summer theatre.”

The 2013 season will bring back some familiar faces to the stage, as fan favourites like Wally MacKinnon, Sherry Smith, John Dartt, Brian Heighton and Jenny Munday will make their returns, while newcomers Kristen Slaney and Glen Matthews will make their debuts as young love interests in Diligent River Daughter.

The mainstage season will conclude with a showing of When That I Was on Sept. 13-15, written by John Mortimer and Edward Atienza, directed by Simon Mallett. It will also be shown in school group matinees on Sept. 11-13.

Making the theatre more accessible to young audiences is an important priority for MacLellan. Anyone 25 and under can see any show for $10, and the season will also include two pay-what-you-can nights.

“We really want to get more youth in here,” she said. “It’s a shame so many young people aren’t coming to the theatre. I understand being young and in school, and saving, so this year we’re trying to make it more accessible.”

The town population will soon swell as the theatre crew has already arrived for work, and the cast will begin rehearsals for Diligent River Daughter on June 11.

Organizations: Mulgrave Road Theatre

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Diligent River, Amherst Margaree East Coast Canada Diligent River Daughter.The

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