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newfoundlandcoast

- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Owen Sound Little Theatre is preparing its magic once again. Stepping off the sidewalk on 9th Avenue, we walk through the doors of the Roxy theatre and we're here in Saint Kevins, a fishing village of 200 souls on the rocky shore of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. It's All Souls Day, November 2, 1965 and the particular ten souls in this play are waiting for news from home from the past year.

westmoonDirector Kathleen Cassidy first saw West Moon, opening this week at the Roxy, at the Rising Tide Theatre in Trinity, Newfoundland in July of 2018. “It is an exceptionally well-written play by Newfoundland poet, Al Pittman,” says Cassidy. “I fell in love with the language and with the people, and wanted to bring it home to Owen Sound.”

The ten souls in West Moon, from ages ten to ninety, appear to the audience as they remember themselves to be. We discover each individual at the same time as we come to understand the resilience and humour and importance of place and community in the tiny self-reliant villages of the Newfoundland coast at a time that would change them forever.

The story of Newfoundland in those early years as part of Canada is one of both hope and dislocation, long tradition and new identity. Premier Joey Smallwood wanted every small outport to have the same opportunities enjoyed by every citizen of Canada – electricity, flush toilets, and dependable jobs in the modern fish processing plants that were replacing salt cod. When the government offered village residents money if ninety percent of them agreed to resettle into the “growth centres”, the government, the church, even neighbours and families were sometimes on opposing sides of a decision about an unknowable future. 

The conversation is alive to this day in Newfoundland, as communities have been relocated as recently as December 2019. Our own local rural communities face similar changes as demographics and politics drive life-changing decisions.

Three dialect coaches have worked with the West Moon cast on their accents since the first weeks. Two of them are professors in Georgian College's Marine Engineering program who have only been out of Newfoundland since spring of last year. Professor Bill Langdon is also a member of the cast, and his parents came to visit and brought a taste of home - toutons and fishcakes for the cast and crew.

The cast includes both newcomers and OSLT veterans: Paula Mercer, Fiona Smith, Rick Ringer, Jamie Smith, Dan Herrick, Eileen O'Connor, Sandra Lemaitre, Maiya Burgess, Paul Welsh, Bill Langdon and Cathie Tillie. The set is designed by the experienced creative team of Paul Nicholson and Terri Burns. West Moon is the Owen Sound Little Theatre's 2020 entry into the Western Ontario Drama League Festival.

And just to warm you up as you step in from that February sidewalk, grab yourself a glass of Screech and join the house band “Maggoty Fish” for a kitchen party in the lobby every night half an hour before the curtain.

maggoty fish

West Moon runs this February 6- 8 and 12-15, and tickets are available by phone or in person at the Roxy box office, 251 9th St. E., 519-371-2833 or online at roxytheatre.ca.


 

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