Wendy Vey is stepping out from beneath the material and masks this summer as she takes on the role of playwright and director for Stage West Theatre Festival’s outdoor family show.
The festival gets underway on July 2 and Vey, a costume designer, has taken two beloved fairy tales — “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” and “Little Red Riding Hood” — and given them a Newfoundland makeover.
The result is “The Three Mighty Moose” and “Little Red Grenfell Coat and the Wolf.”
Vey said writing little stories has been something she’s enjoyed since she was a teenager.
“When I get a chance, I sort of do that and I used to make up stories with my son when he was younger.”
These two particular fairy tales came to life last year while Vey was doing a puppet workshop with teacher and Stage West co-artistic director Jordan Stringer’s drama classes. Vey said the students were tasked with doing stories and she suggested to them to take fairy tales and set them in Newfoundland.
“That kind of led me to think about ... what would I do if I were going to do that? And I just sort of started writing from there.”
“Three Billy Goats Gruff” stood out to her because Vey had been going back and forth to Cow Head to do theatre up there and had seen a few moose in Gros Morne National Park.
“That one just kind of felt to me that that one could be easily set there in the park, and just change the goats to moose and you sort of have a thing.”
She always liked “Little Red Riding Hood” and thought turning the cape into a Grenfell coat would work, too. The wolf in her version is a little different as he starts out as more of a silly wolf. The story also takes Red through a woods, a beach and a bog.
Vey said the stories started out to be just two little stories she was writing for herself. But one night when some of the Stage West group — her husband Mike Payne is a co-founder and co-artistic director of the festival — were at her home they talked about doing a family show outside.
“I jokingly said ‘Well I wrote two stories; we could do those.’”
She laughs when she adds that it was "probably not the wisest thing I’ve done.”
Vey said she figured she’d write stories, possibly turn them into plays and hand it off to someone else to do something with after that.
Not in this case. Vey found herself not only the playwright, but also the director. Oh, and she’s also doing the costumes for the show.
And while the experience is a little stressful, she’s enjoying it.
“It’s all a learning experience, they keep telling me,” she said with an infectious laugh. “It is fun and it’s kind of exciting.”
She’s also getting some help from her husband who’s serving as her assistant director. Vey said when she wants to tell the actors things, but isn’t quite sure how, to he stands in and does it.
Also making the job a little easier are her cast — Ian Locke, Helena Paddle, Chelsea Marks, Emma Anderson and Jake Bradbury.
“The Three Mighty Moose” and “Little Red Grenfell Coat and the Wolf” will be staged, weather permitting, on the Majestic Lawn on July 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 and 31. Show time is 2 p.m. and it’s free.