Bending the Rules

Introducing OLD STOCK: A Wildly Popular, Genre-Bending Spectacle

-The third installment in this year’s CIBC Charlottetown Festival opens August 12-

Making its Island premiere this August is the internationally-acclaimed, OLD STOCK: A Refugee Love Story, presented by Nova Scotia’s 2b Theatre Company.Opening August 12 on the Mainstage at Confederation Centre of the Arts, this life-affirming musical tells the true story of two Romanian refugees meeting at Halifax’s Pier 21, as they await entry into Canada.

“We are thrilled to bring OLD STOCK to Charlottetown,” glows Adam Brazier, artistic director of performing arts. “This is one of the most important pieces of theatre we have done in years. It has received rave reviews everywhere from New York to the U.K. and all across Canada. This story is funny and dark and beautifully realized. This is a must-see.”

Starring East Coast sensation Ben Caplan, the music-theatre hybrid explores how to love and find a shared humanity after facing the horrors of war. It’s about refugees who get out before it’s too late, and those who get out after it’s too late. OLD STOCK’s rousing music blends Yiddish Klezmer with modern folk stylings, creating a wistful and energetic tone. 

“Richly humorous, wildly entertaining, and deeply moving” was how The Globe and Mail described this Maritime-made production, while Herald Scotland dubbed it “irresistible…a thing of raw, unmissable beauty.” OLD STOCK is written by Hannah Moscovitch with direction by Christian Barry and songs by Ben Caplan and Barry.

Sponsored by HonibeOLD STOCK plays seven times weekly until September 6.

On August 26, a special ‘relaxed performance’ of OLD STOCK will be offered. Sponsored by The Gray Group, the relaxed performance is a specific performance night where the show is adapted to better suit people who might require a more relaxed sensory experience and environment when attending the theatre. For more information, please contact Rosie Shaw at rshaw@confederationcentre.com.

To reserve tickets visit confederationcentre.com/whats-on/, or call the box office at 1-800-565-0278.

Theatre PEI

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Winning at Cards

“Oh boy, cards! The paper rectangles old people think are fun!” 

—Luz Noceda, The Owl House

Often the odd man out in my extended family, I differ from much of them perhaps most markedly in my persistent indifference to card games. Cards actually rather fascinate me as objects, as iconography, as metaphor; I just seldom enjoy most card games much, despite growing up amidst an intergenerational school of card sharks. 

So Luz Noceda’s cheerfully careless remark above has some resonance for me, especially the younger me of yore. Card games were things the older folks in my life always enjoyed, though I never fully saw the appeal; but you don’t have to be old or a card player or both to appreciate Watermark Theatre’s superb production of The Gin Game, which makes about 90 minutes of old people playing cards weirdly compelling. 

A big part of that is the Pulitzer-winning, Tony-nominated script penned by Donald L. Coburn back in 1976, which spawned several successful Broadway runs. Called “virtually plotless” by the New York Times, this two-person, two-act play depicts a series of gin rummy games played by two troubled residents of a shabby seniors home, Weller Martin (portrayed here by Richard Clarkin) and Fonsia Dorsey (Gracie Finley). 

Sounds simple, and it is, but layers abound: both players are holding secrets—regrets, grudges, prejudices, delusions, ambitions, hopes and agendas—and it all comes out as their card games become increasingly combative, deeply personal and ultimately destructive. Turns out those paper rectangles were loaded. 

Director Robert Tsonos and company bring this darkly witty, impressively compact and occasionally disturbing tragicomedy to vivid life, crisply realizing all aspects of the production. This includes Pat Caron’s richly immersive light and sound design and Cory Sincennes’ lushly detailed, palpably decaying nursing home exterior set, which packs remarkable depth and levels into the small Watermark space, pretty much the perfect venue for a show this focused and intimate. 

None of that means much in a two-person play without two good actors inhabiting that space, breathing life into the story, and the Clarkin-Finley duo does that in spades. Both build distinctive, fully incarnated characters in terms of attitude, energy, physical presence and intention, such that we get a sense of who and what these characters are even when they’re not saying a word. 

They say lots of words, of course, and Finley and Clarkin adroitly navigate it all in sequences ranging from playful banter to profane shouting matches to anguished confessions; and yet some of their quieter moments are among the most indelibly memorable, like a solo-dancing Finley dreamily swaying to nearby music, or a broken Clarkin slowly hobbling away. 

It’s a short, simple play featuring a compact cast in a small space, but Watermark’s The Gin Game seems likely to loom large in this PEI theatrical summer as one of the smartest, most artfully crafted offerings of 2021.Sean McQuaidTheatreWatermark Theatre

SEAN MCQUAID

Mild-mannered Hansard reporter by day and oddball freelance writer by night, past Buzz editor Sean McQuaid has been a contributor since the ’90s and a theatre enthusiast for longer than that. He lives in Charlottetown with his wife, daughter, cats and untold thousands of comic books.

Theatre PEI

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Burning Hell In the Flesh

PEI’s Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom are the lead duo behind the band The Burning Hell, and have released two albums of folk songs under their own names. Their most recent release Never Work (2020) was a collection of contemporary labour songs about the gig economy, automation, and rebellious digital assistants. With The Burning Hell, Sharratt & Kom have toured extensively internationally and appeared frequently in session on BBC Radio; at festivals such as Glastonbury and Mariposa, and have claimed an unofficial world record for performing ten concerts in ten countries in 24 hours. Their joyful, witty story-songs celebrating underdogs and imagined worlds have earned them a loyal fanbase throughout the world and have been critically praised in The Globe and Mail, Rolling Stone Germany and Uncut. This is their first performance in Eastern PEI.

“He’s our Randy Newman and Cole Porter rolled into one, with one eye on the coming apocalypse and another on the neck of his ukulele.” – The Globe and Mail


“Canada’s The Burning Hell write the kind of literate, funny, catchy songs that make you want to learn all the words and shout them passionately back in their faces.” – Drowned in Sound

Theatre PEI

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Amp Up for Song and Dance


Confederation Centre Amphitheatre to Host Two Shows This Summer

-“The Voices of Resilience” and “Street Fusion” will host free noon-time and evening performances through August 21-

The amphitheatre at Confederation Centre of the Arts will come to life this summer with two free shows intended to entertain, educate, and promote inter-cultural understanding.

“Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors has been together since their first show in 2011, this year marks 10 years together as the only Indigenous Theatre Company in Atlantic Canada,” says Julie Pellissier-Lush, one of the show’s creators. “See the beautiful sights, listen for powerful drums, learn a few traditional words in Mi’kmaq, and join us for a fun event in partnership with the Confederation Centre of the Arts and L’nuey that will make your heart happy.”

Performances of The Voices of Resilience will take place at noon from July 21-23 and again from July 26-31.

“Culture is learned in patterns; it is the values, behaviors, and connections shared by people,” says Ward. “Culture is also a way of coping with the world we live in. It resides in the hearts of everyone. It’s the way we see each other and appreciate our differences. It is also the way we find common ground. This show displays how distinct cultures can come together and create and celebrate each other.”

Performances of Street Fusion will take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 5:30 pm, and on Saturdays at noon from August 4-21. 

“We are so blessed to be able to share these two unique and inspirational shows with audiences,” says Adam Brazier, Artistic Director of Performing Arts at the Centre. “The Centre is committed to promoting diversity, inclusiveness and inter-cultural understanding. These two shows will give audiences an opportunity to learn more about these cultures through performance and creativity.”

To reserve free tickets to these two shows, visit confederationcentre.com/whats-on/, or call the box office at 1-800-565-0278. The box office is open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 8pm.

Theatre PEI

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At the Card Table

Actor Richard Clarkin thrilled to be back in PEI
 
The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn now playing at Watermark Theatre in North Rustico stars Gracie Finleyand Richard Clarkin. Gracie is well known to local audiences, however it has been more than 35 years since Richard has appeared on stage here. “I was a young actor in Saltwater Moon many years ago at the Charlottetown Festival and am thrilled to be back on stage here at Watermark in The Gin Game”, says Clarkin.
 
Even though it has been many years since he’s performed here Richard is no stranger to the Island. “I have very deep roots on PEI with both of my parents from farm families in Kelly’s Cross and Watervale. My childhood summers meant road trips to PEI and this tradition continued with my own family. I still have lots of family and a circle of dear friends here and about five years ago my wife and I found a lovely little farmhouse in Savage Harbour and have made it a seasonal home. I’m doing work on it to make it a year round place and look forward to spending as much time here as possible.”
 
Asked about working at the Watermark for the first time, Richard had this to say: “The theatre itself is a gem and Artistic Director Robert Tsonos has a way of surrounding himself with excellent artists and crew and being in beautiful North Rustico is icing on the cake. Our volunteers at Watermark and community support have been pretty amazing. I just feel darn lucky to have landed here.”
 
The Gin Game, winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, uses a card game as a metaphor for life. Weller Martin is playing solitaire on the porch of a seedy nursing home. Enter Fonsia Dorsey, a prim, self-righteous lady. They discover they both dislike the home and enjoy gin rummy, so they begin to play and to reveal intimate details of their lives. The Gin Game runs until July 31st.
 
Tickets are now on sale at http://www.ticketwizard.ca
Or call the box office at 902-963-3963
 
Watermark Theatre’s Mandate
Located in North Rustico, PEI, on land that is the traditional unceded territory of the Mi’Kmaq, the Watermark Theatre is a professional theatre company that produces time-honoured plays, as well as contemporary plays that resonate with our times.
As a company we are led by the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility and commit to incorporating these core values in everything we do.
We prioritize environmental stewardship and sustainability.
The Watermark Theatre is dedicated to the development of the next generation of theatre artists and arts administrators through mentorship and professional training.
In all of our programming we strive for artistic excellence while endeavouring to inform, affect, and engage our audience and our community.
 
For more information please contact Lara Dias at 902-963-3963 or admin@watermarktheatre.com.

Theatre PEI

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