Workshop of plays part of Stephenville Theatre Festival’s summer season

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Frank Gale
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Lois Brown, artistic director of the Stephenville Theatre Festival, is working on leading the longtime event in a new direction.

Lois Brown hopes to develop relationships with people who live in the area and showcase some of their talents.

Brown, the new artistic director of the Stephenville Theatre Festival, was referring to the 36th season of the summer festival, which runs from July 11 with the opening of its headliner, “Nobleman’s Wedding,” until Aug. 11 with the “Gala” performance.

Although she’s new to this community, Brown already had a taste of the talent here when she went out to see a variety show fundraiser called “Shenanigans.”

“It was an evening of amazing music and tradition with two hours of great talent,” she said.

Brown hopes to lead the long-running festival in a new direction, and believes she has a “truly epic” lineup for this season. The festival will include Newfoundland themes, different genres of music and a comedy.

Because Newfoundlanders are such proponents of home, especially when they are away, Brown said that will be explored through four or five monologues in “Music from Home,” a production that will feature Pamela Morgan choosing music with a traditional flavour, but also telling stories with an international flavour from people away.

“But don’t dismay, there will still be lots of music and the monologues will be limited,” Brown said.

Morgan is also the writer of “Nobleman’s Wedding,” which Brown said was retold through Newfoundland folk tradition developed from a song Morgan first heard while in Stephenville back in the 1970s.

Morgan is also the season’s musical director.

 “Jack Meets the Cat,” by Sheila’s Brush Theatre Company, is a family show that stars a clown expert who plays a hobby horse.

“The Birthday Party,” by Mireille Mayrand-Fiset, is a comedy about Joan, a woman about to turn 30 who thinks it's time to start living her life. As a result, she goes on a quest for fun and decides to throw a big birthday party for herself.

Because of the strong contingent of country fans in western Newfoundland, Brown said the “Country Show” will be going ahead at the festival.

Returning this season is the “A Night With…” series, which will feature intimate evenings of song and music with local performers, as well as Pamela Morgan in concert and a CD release by Dave Panting.

Brown also plans to develop work this year that will hit the stage next year, or perhaps later.

“Stage productions don’t happen overnight and we like to stimulate conversation in what we’re doing,” she said. “Also, some of the audience can find out what we’re doing in future years and even be part of that development.

“We want them to give feedback — talk about art, give artists their insights as audience members.”

Some of the other things at the festival this year include “Two Horse Tales,” featuring mother-son duo Ruth and Luke Lawrence, which is a co-production with White Rooster.

“Never Forgotten” is a play Jerry Doyle is developing about the resettlement program in Lourdes during the 1930s. During the summer, the festival will workshop it and host a public reading by the actors.

“The Driftwood Trilogy,” by Megan Coles, consists of three plays — “Falling Trees,” “Building Houses” and “Wasting Paper” — dealing with logging and the paper industry. The festival will provide a three-day workshop and public reading each night.

Peter Trosztmer is a Montréal-based choreographer who will be an artist-in-residence this summer.

While here, he will lead a workshop-installation-immersive environment drawing on architecture, physical performance and manual construction.

Organizations: Stephenville Theatre, Brush Theatre Company, Birthday Party

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Stephenville, Lourdes

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