Jack Paterson knew he was in a special place soon after arriving in Parrsboro last December to take on the role of Ship’s Company Theatre’s artistic producer.
“I had just arrived in Parrsboro in December and was trying to learn where everything was and avoid tripping over the furniture. All of sudden, something was banging outside so I pulled on my coat and headed out into the snow. I found an older gentleman clambering all over the ship and I wondered what he was doing,” Paterson told the Amherst News. “Turns out he was a neighbour who wanted to make sure everything was OK at the Ship. That passion and interest from folks in the area is what allows the company to be what it is. Everyone in the community has taken ownership. It was then I realized how important community is to this organization.”
It’s because of that sense of community, Ship’s Company Theatre has developed a reputation for doing big things in small places.
After losing its artistic producer Natasha MacLellan to Theatre New Brunswick, the little theatre that could did it again, going out and hiring Paterson, who wants to bring lots of energy as it celebrates 35 years of performances on the former MV Kipawo that used to ply the waters of the Minas Basin.
And Paterson can’t wait to get started.
“We have a new team in here and we’re ready to start on the adventure,” Paterson said.
Paterson said the history of the theatre and quality of plays and shows that have gone nationwide helped draw him to Parrsboro.
He said community plays an important role in Ship’s Company Theatre with its location 90 minutes from Halifax and an hour from Moncton.
“We are a little isolated, so we have to reach out to our community and work with them. This theatre would not be here without that relationship,” he said. “We’re part of what brings people here to the summer. There are many wonderful things going on, like Parrsboro Creative. It’s an exciting place and it’s great how we all come together and promote all this activity in this community.”
Paterson said the outgoing team has gone on to new adventures and there’s still an excellent relationship with those who have gone before him. He said he’s kept in constant contact with MacLellan at Theatre New Brunswick.
“Everyone cares passionately about the success of our company and even though they are no longer within our walls they still want it to do well,” he said. “It leaves us in a wonderful position. It allows us to feel out how things were done in the past and that’s what this year is about as a new team – how things were done in the past and what new adventures can come out of that.”
Paterson said he’s looking ahead to a fun summer with some fun shows while exploring small town theatre and what it can do in rural communities. He has all sorts of great ideas, but until he can figure out how to make them happen he’s keeping his cards close to his chest.
“I’m going to reach out to the community and the surrounding area and we fully intend to continue offering high quality Canadian theatre and continue showcasing and supporting Atlantic artists,” he said.
He said he wants to see Ship’s Company Theatre offering the things that have drawn people to the Kipawo and Parrsboro. He believes the concert series is a big part of that. Beginning July 8 with three concerts in July and three more in August, there will be music for everyone featuring Superfluid, Thom Swift, Norma MacDonald, Pretty Archie, Open Borders and Fiddles and Feet.
“We have Norma MacDonald and others who the community have come to love while we also have Superfluid, who are sort of funky,” he said. “It’s about giving people that balance, offering what they are used to and new adventures.”
He’s thrilled to have Pamela Halstead coming back to direct the first show, Bed and Breakfast that runs from July 3 to 28, while New Waterford Boy: A Ceilidh is returning from July 31 to Aug. 1.
What's up this summer at Ship's Company Theatre
- Bed and Breakfast by Mark Crawford (July 3-28) – When Brett inherits the family home, he and Drew move from Toronto to open a bed and breakfast in a quiet little tourist town. The play will feature two actors playing approximately 20 roles.
- New Waterford Boy: A Celidh by Ritchie Wilcos (July 31-Aug. 1) – A kitchen party tribute to the Cape Breton man he will never be. For those with the songs of miners and fisherman embedded into their hearts whether they have set foot in a mine, or cast a net, or not.
- Odd Ducks: A Rom by Brydon MacDonald (Aug. 7-Sept. 1) – Welcome to the small town of Tartan Cross, where the lives of four oddball fortysomethings have become so intertwined that something needs to change. MacDonald places his four characters at the brink and the comedy takes off from there.
- Monday Night Concert Series (July 8-Aug. 26) featuring Superfluid, Thom Swift, Norma MacDonald, Pretty Archie, Open Borders and Fiddles and Feet.
- Finding Wolastoq Vocie by Natalie Sappier (Sept. 12-14) – Theatre New Brunswick’s stunningly evocative production is a story of discovery, identity and culture. A young Wolastoqiyik woman discovers the voices of her ancestors told with theatre and dance.
- A Tribute to Buck Owens & the Bakersfield Sound by Ryan Cook (Sept. 20-22) – Ryan Cook and his band return to Ships Company Theatre with a tribute to Country singer Buck Owen sand the “Bakersfield Sound.”
- Art Attackk! (Sept. 25-26) – Halifax Theatre for Young People’s is back with a vibrant and fascinating mix of art and theatre. Three plays for Grades 2-6 is funny and endearing show includes a hip hop musical, the story of an unexpected encounter at the art gallery and a eulogy for a cat!
Ship’s Company Theatre is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts; Canadian Heritage; Arts Nova Scotia; The NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage; The Municipality of Cumberland County and the community of Parrsboro.