The Blyth Festival, under the artistic direction of Gil Garratt, just released the playbill for the 2018 season.
The lineup of shows is one of the best yet, with an additional show being added to the season. The five shows on the 2018 Blyth Festival playbill include a fabulous mix of old and new. Plus, two of the new works, Mark Crawford’s “The New Canadian Curling Club” and Heather Davies “Judith: Memories of a Lady Pig Farmer,” are from local artists whose careers are going through a period of momentum.
Davies arrives with a mountain of experience, having worked at a variety of theatres including the Stratford Festival, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Grand in London. Crawford’s writing, which sometimes places traditional narratives in rural settings, has resulted in new Canadian plays that travel well. He discusses his relationship with theatre goers in this story “Do you think about the audience when you write?” here on Stratford Festival Reviews.
It’s wonderful that Rick Salutin’s “The Farmers’ Revolt,” with its deep ties to the Blyth Festival, and a recent critically acclaimed production at the Shaw Festival, will have a much overdue production at the Festival mainstage.
As always, the members of the company create new work infused with their curiosity, heart and soul. The company’s 2017 hit, “The Pigeon King,” directed by Severn Thompson, returns for a quick encore performance (get tickets before it sells out) and the upcoming “Night at the Boot,” set in a local pub, has a documentary feel to it with Garratt adding “Imagine David Attenborough pulling up a barstool on a Thursday night and falling in love with the locals.”
The Pigeon King
by The Company
May 30 – June 15
This show closed the 2017 season leaving audiences wanting more, so it’s back for a limited engagement to kick off the 2018 season.
Be sure to see the show that Stage Door’s Christopher Hoile calls “fascinating, highly entertaining” and a “vibrant depiction of one of the greatest, most bizarre frauds in Canadian history.”
“Pigeon King” is based on a true story of a ponzi scheme that became a massive empire, worth tens of millions of dollars. It all ended in a Waterloo, Ontario court where Arlan Galbraith was sentenced to seven years, for his preposterous scheme.
The New Canadian Curling Club
by Mark Crawford
June 20 to August 23
Crawford, who wrote the smash hits “The Birds and the Bees” and “Stag and Doe,” returns with a hilarious new comedy.
In an effort to welcome sponsored Syrian refugees to the town, the municipality offers a free, introductory “Learn to Curl” program. The night before the very first class, the event organizer has an accident and the custodian/Zamboni driver, a man with some opinions about immigrants, runs the class. What follows is a hilarious and inspiring story of an unlikely group of would-be athletes who face off against local prejudice to become a true team, and end up competing in the most prestigious local bonspiel tournament.
Judith: Memories of a Lady Pig Farmer
by Heather Davies
June 27 to August 11
Based on Aritha van Herk’s award-winning 1978 novel, “Judith,” this is a play about a young woman who leaves the home farm (a pig operation) to move to the big city.
Her parents plead with her to stay and take over the farm, but Judith wants none of it; she sees nothing but bright lights in her fantasy future. When her parents die suddenly, and the big city turns out not to be what she anticipated, Judith returns to her home county and uses her inheritance to start out on her own.
With her own patch of land, a barn full of sows, and memories of her childhood, Judith rediscovers the true meaning of home.
The Farmers’ Revolt
by Rick Saultin and the Theatre Passe Muraille company.
August 1 to Sept. 15
Before the Blyth Festival was born, before the community saved the building, the first group of actors who rehearsed in Blyth Memorial Community Hall had to sign waivers in case the roof fell in on their heads.
“1837: The Farmers’ Revolt” was the show those actors were working on, with a young, upstart and heavily bearded director named Paul Thompson.
This is an epic Canadian story about a rebellion whose reverberations helped build the very Canada we know today.
At its core, this is a play about farmers who distrust the government of the day, fighting against a class of would-be aristocrats, and featuring incredible turns by the likes of local historic titans Van Egmond, Tiger Dunlop, and William Lyon MacKenzie.
As artistic director Gil Garratt says, “this is a play that was born here, and helped inspire the creation of the Festival, and yet has never been produced on our mainstage.”
Night at the Boot
by The Company
August 8 to Sept. 15
Working from local stories and memories of the The Blyth Inn, aka the Rubber Boot, the Festival is creating a show that both celebrates and lampoons 141 years of infamous local landmark.
From Michael Ondaatje’s famous poem, “The Concessions” (which features a mid-70s portrait of the place), to the snowmobilers in the winter, to the Huron Idol karaoke contest, live bands, bubbly waitresses and crusty bartenders “Wing Night at the Boot” promises a portrait of an all too familiar place.
Passes are now on sale for the 2018 season.
Call the Box Office at 1-877-862-5984
Online at blythfestival.com
Purchase before December 24 and save up to 24% over the price of single tickets.