PARRSBORO, N.S. – Chasing Champions is going to Ottawa, but first it’s coming back to Ship’s Company Theatre.
The award-winning play about Nova Scotian boxer Sam Langford, which had its world premiere at Ship’s Company in 2016, will play at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in November. Before it goes there, however, it will be remounted on Ship’s Company’s Fall Stage as part of a packed 2018 season lineup announced during the weekend.
“We were invited to perform it at the National Arts Centre, so we had to get it up and rehearse it again,” explained artistic director Natasha MacLellan. “Because we always do a Fall Stage anyway, we thought why do two when we can just do this one? And it’s an opportunity to get schools in Cumberland County to see it, which I think is brilliant because it’s a show a lot of kids should see.”
Chasing Champions received raves from critics and audiences alike during its 2016 run, and went on to receive six Theatre Nova Scotia Merritt Awards, including Outstanding Production of the year.
Its themes of overcoming obstacles like racism and poverty continue to be important today, she explained.
“To persevere in that society is extraordinary, let alone to accomplish everything Sam Langford did,” said MacLellan. “Those are great themes for our youth today, especially at a time when there is such a focus and drive to overhaul old patriarchal and racist systems.”
Kicking off Ship’s Company’s 2018 season will be its July mainstage production of Hook, Line & Sinner, the final installment of the “Mystery Trilogy” featuring Sister Vivian Salter.
Mary-Colin Chisholm, who has played the lead character in the previous two plays, has taken over playwright duties for this show, while donning Sister Vivian’s habit will be another Ship’s Company favourite, Martha Irving.
In this story, Vivian is called on to exonerate an old friend who is accused of killing his wife. He also happens to be someone she dated before becoming a nun.
The plan had always been to have Chisholm write the final play of the trilogy, according to MacLellan. Habit of Murder was written by Joanna Miller, and The Mystery Play was written by Josh MacDonald.
“We had an outline of what each was going to cover in their plays. They had lots of freedom to tell their own mystery, but we had an overarching story,” she said. “All three of the mysteries stand on their own. You won’t have to have seen them all for one to make sense, but if you do see them all, you get an extra little bonus in there.”
In the August mainstage production, Ship’s Company will partner with Theatre New Brunswick to offer Any Given Moment by Kim Parkhill, telling the story of three very different characters forced into a shared experience when a threat gets called in against a church.
“I think it’s really rooted in modern-day anxiety, with mass shootings and terrorism,” said MacLellan, who will direct both mainstage shows this year. “But while it’s rooted in all that anxiety and fear, it really does go to a beautiful place.”
Being a co-production with Theatre New Brunswick, the show will tour around New Brunswick for three weeks after its run in Parrsboro, a partnership that allows Ship’s Company the double benefit of increasing its exposure in another province, and sharing production costs.
“A lot of theatres are doing this more and more, and it does have a lot to do with money,” she said. “For us, this is more about spreading our name in that province because we’re right on the border, pretty much, and we do get a lot of people who come from New Brunswick.”
The 2018 season will also include the Second Stage production Burnwater: Alchemy, as well as Uncle Podger’s Hat on the Kids Stage.
Also announced was the 2018 concert series lineup, featuring Fiddles & Feet on July 9, Diyet & The Love Soldiers on July 16, Pretty Archie on July 23, Sanctified Brothers on Aug. 13, Sean McCann on Aug. 20, and Erin Costello on Aug. 27.