Ship’s Company readies for 30th anniversary season

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Mainstage productions to carry familiar themes

Ship’s Company Theatre will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year with plenty of nods to the past, while maintaining its commitment to producing new Atlantic Canadian theatre.

Ship’s Company Theatre artistic producer Natasha MacLellan looks through scrapbooks from years gone by at the theatre, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary with its upcoming 2014 season.

PARRSBORO – The upcoming 2014 season will feature a combination of familiar faces that have contributed to the company’s success over the past three decades, and some of the emerging talents it will continue to cultivate.

Kicking off the mainstage season in July will be By the Dark of the Moon, a romantic comedy written by popular Ship’s Company alumni Mary-Colin Chisholm and Christian Murray.

In her first time choosing the shows, artistic producer Natasha MacLellan said she wanted to celebrate the anniversary season by tying in themes from past shows.

“At first I wanted to remount an old show, because there are so many that people remember fondly,” she said. “I read a lot of the scripts and thought about that, but I didn’t like the idea of going backward. But I like By The Dark of the Moon because it revisits themes from the very first show that Ship’s Company did.”

Set in Molasses Harbour in 1928, and inspired by written and oral history, the play focuses on the relationship of a mother and daughter caught on opposing sides of the temperance movement during the rum running days. Rum running also happened to be central to the story of You’ll Be In Her Arms By Midnight (and other Parrsboro Stories), Ship’s Company’s inaugural production in 1984.

Apart from a successful three-day run at Mulgrave Road Theatre a few years ago, his production will be the “arrival” of By the Dark of the Moon. It will be directed by Chisholm, a familiar face from many early Ship’s Company shows who MacLellan said is very excited to be returning. The show will also feature a cast of seven actors, including Parrsboro’s own Rhianna Odlin.

The August mainstage show will be Our Eliza, the story of a rural Newfoundland community, written by emerging writer Megan Coles.

Both its female voice and its political overtones appealed to MacLellan.

“It’s an exciting play about a small town, with themes so relevant to here,” she said. “But I was also trying to think of relating to Ship’s Company, and how the Kipawo was brought back from Newfoundland to here. So I was thinking about stuff that happened that first year, and now we have a Newfoundland play and a rum running play.”

Our Eliza received positive reviews at last year’s Stages Festival in Halifax and came highly recommended to MacLellan, who got to meet Coles in Newfoundland last month. She is expecting this show to launch the career of the talented young writer.

Rounding out the season will be a mainstage showing of Alien by Annie Valentina in September, a kids show by Mermaid Theatre, A Tribute to the Outlaws show by The Divorcees, a Second Stage show by Halifax’s 2b Theatre Company, a packed Concert Series lineup, and several activities to commemorate the 30th anniversary.

In the week between the two mainstage shows, a free barbecue is being planned for the community, along with a cabaret being put together by Ship’s Company co-founder Mary Vingoe that will feature an evening of staged readings from some of the plays that have been performed at the theatre over the years.

For these activities, they are hoping to see the return of many of the artists that have been a part of Ship’s Company over the past 30 years.

“We’re attempting to reach a lot of people, and we really hope people who have been here will come back,” said MacLellan. “It’s a big celebration of the company.”

awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Mulgrave Road Theatre, Mermaid Theatre, Concert Series

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Halifax

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