Category Archives: On Stage

The Theatre and the Ghost

By Justin Shaw

The act of going out to the theatre used to feel like a holiday. There’s a festive spirit in the air, people are generally happy to be with one another, and sometimes you drink too much either because you’re having a good time or because you wishyou were having a good time.

Now, theatre actually has it’s own holiday. March 27th is recognized as World Theatre Day: a day where theatre artists share a photo from their favourite theatrical moment. In past years, the date tends to get scrolled past with little fanfare (let’s face it, actors don’t need a holiday to share photos of themselves.) But this year, World Theatre Day carried with it a heavier weight of reflection and contemplation. Myself, like many others, wondered when we may get to experience theatre ever again.

While it is not a holiday in it’s most “technical” sense, World Theatre Day made me realize how much about theatre I have taken for granted. I moved forward everyday with the assumption that the stage would be there, that audiences would be there, and theatre would always be there.

My first ever audition for a play wasn’t even a choice I made on my own. I was seventeen, and my partner at the time had Broadway dreams, but until they got their driver’s licence, they’d have to settle for Kings Playhouse in Georgetown.

My partner was excited to audition, and wanted me to come with them for moral support. When we got to the Playhouse, my partner gave a great audition, and the director even said “I’m sure we’ve got something for you!” The director noticed me in the distance. “We sure are short on guys to fill the male roles, though.”

I was sitting on a bench, pretending to not overhear the conversation. Maybe if I just stay perfectly still, no one will notice me. While that tactic may work on dinosaurs, it generally does not work in romantic relationships.

My partner looked at me with pleading look in their eyes. It was the sort of look where I knew if I obliged they would be very happy, yet alternatively, if I declined it would be my funeral.

I took the audition script in my hands, and marched onto the stage.

As I made my solemn death march, my fears of public speaking haunted my mind, most of which took place at church. I had vivid memories of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Cardigan and dreading the day I would be asked to read the Psalms. My squeaky pre-pubescent voice would read one verse, and a trudging chorus of 9am seniors would read the following. Even standing in front of a crowd made me nervous. Another Sunday I was asked to light the Advent candle and was so nervous in front everyone I dropped the match on the church carpet. Luckily, a swift stomp from the minister prevented any damage, but it didn’t stop a member of the congregation from calling out “holy smoke!”

I pushed the memories of church out of my mind. The director made the instructions clear: stand there, and say the words out loud. That’s acting. “Okay,” I thought. “Pretty simple.” As soon as I opened my mouth, I immediately began stuttering over words and trembling with the script clenched in my hands. In that moment, I discovered a new facet about acting: simple to do, hard to do well.

I don’t know if it was something about the way my trembling voice carried in the theatre, or perhaps it was lack of any other viable options, but the director offered me a role in the play. I was thrown by the whole experience that I didn’t even ask what play we were doing.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.”

My endeavour to block out painful memories of church-born stage fright were now more difficult than ever, thanks to Andrew Lloyd Weber deciding to give a Broadway makeover to the Biblical story of a boy and his fancy coat.

As we were leaving, the director shared with us an interesting piece of history about Kings Playhouse. “Oh yeah! We have a ghost who likes to come out at night. We call him Captain George. Anyways. See you at rehearsal!”

As we got in the car and watched the theatre fade out of view from the rearview mirror, I kept thinking “… did she say this theatre had a ghost?” She mentioned it as casually as she might have said “by the way, we have a new light-fixture in the lobby, new taps in the bathroom, and also the spiritual energy of life from beyond the grave.”

I wouldn’t call myself a deeply religious person, but I’m not unreligious. The technical term may be “recovering Christian.” However, I have not let go of faith in spirituality or the possibility of a divine essence.

But there’s no such thing as ghosts.

But I really wanted to see one.

I agree to take part in the show, only so I can spot this ghost. I didn’t think they existed but I wanted to be proven wrong.

The play required weeks of rehearsal. I was worried I’d look foolish, and that worry was quickly confirmed on day one when they had us singing and dancing. But I wasn’t alone.

I learned over the next few weeks to not take myself quite so seriously. I had help from the rest of the cast as we became great friends during the whole process. In theatre, I find that you develop a common bond with your cast mates. It’s like we’re all in the trenches together, except our military training consisted of choreography, vocal warmups, and meticulous blocking notes (and, if you’re me, ghost-hunting on breaks.)

Time passes at a different rate on stage. In the slow of time before the curtain rises, all that can be heard is a murmur of excitement from the audience, as well quiet prayer to whoever will listen from within the wings. Time slows down only so it can double in pace the moment the show begins. The story is told in a lightning-fast technicolour blur consisting of a choir of youths who were glad to have done it once but may never do it again, and inspired teens who dream of doing it for the rest of their lives. To my joyful, humble, and grateful surprise, I was among the later.

I didn’t find any ghosts, but I learned to believe in theatre.

Time after that show seemed to go by quickly as well. It’s been over a decade since that show has closed, and I still find myself chasing the floorboards. From travelling, to education, to maintaining career stability, I found that over time I lost sight of why do I bother doing it. For years, I felt like I was constantly chasing a feeling, when truly that moment on stage, just like that first moment, was about harassing something within myself I didn’t know existed. Something that in the constant hustle and grind I have taken for granted.

Again, none of this was part of the plan. When I think back to that first audition at Kings Playhouse, I remember learning that while the show is brief, what lasts beyond the curtain call is the feeling of knowing you were part of something bigger than yourself. I am reminded that sometimes when things don’t go as planned, you open yourself up to an opportunity of learning, which can allow you to grow into someone you never thought you could become. I am reminded of the importance of being present and not taking anything for granted.

I still have yet to see the ghost.

Theatre PEI

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Throwback Thursday

#ThrowBackThursday to this 2012 production of Nunsense at Harbourfront Theatre

Did you know that the original Off-Broadway production opened on December 12, 1985, running for 3,672 performances and becoming the second-longest-running Off-Broadway show in history?

It ran on our stage over the summers of 2012 and 2013. Islanders and visitors loved it! Did you get to see the 5 habits of hilarity?!

Theatre PEI

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Get In On the Act

Casting for John Spurway’s Off The Grid, which will run this summer at Victoria Playhouse. Martha and Len are living “off the grid” for a week in a remote rental home while they celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary. Len is reluctant from the outset, instead preferring creature comforts like TV and the internet. With a sharp wit and a flare for the over-dramatic, Len’s distaste for roughing it turns into a genuine concern for their safety when they encounter their sketchy neighbor Lowell, who by Len’s reckoning, appears to be plotting to kill them.We are seeking to cast one actor of approximately 35 to 40 years of age. Good sense of comedic timing. Sardonic. Playful in an ironic sense. Any ethnicity. Male identifying. Please prepare a 2 minute contemporary comedic monologue and submit, along with headshot and resume, to emily@victoriaplayhouse.com.

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Theatre PEI

Between Breaths On Tap Next Month

Event Rescheduled to March 27th, 2021

SATURDAY, MARCH 27TH,2021 – 7:30 PM
Regular Seats: $32.00 tax & fees included
Student Seats: $22.00 tax & fees included

Previous show date was Sunday, April 19th, 2020, 7:30 pm. Ticket-holders are being contacted via email (or will be contacted by phone if no email is associated with their account) to inform them of the date change. Tickets for the original date will be honoured in every way for the new date. For more information about what happens when an event is postponed, click here.


Join us for this profoundly moving play that celebrates the wonders of the human spirit and the incredible impact one person can have. The story of Dr. Jon Lien (beloved and forever remembered in Newfoundland as the Whale Man) will touch your heart. With a focus on release and salvation, Between Breaths is an impeccably written piece of theatre, performed beautifully and backed by stirring live musical arrangements.

Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland’s
BETWEEN BREATHS
Written by Robert Chafe
Directed by Jillian Keiley
Music composed and arranged by The Once

Well known in Newfoundland as the Whale Man, Dr. Jon Lien during the course of his work pioneered techniques for rescuing whales entrapped in fishing nets. Often risking his very life in the water with the formidable and frightened animals, Dr. Lien would seek to earn their trust as much as the fishermen’s. He looked for the best way to free whales while doing as little damage to the fishing gear as possible.

His efforts saved the lives of over 500 animals, and earned him the hard-won respect of the island’s fishermen. Despite his risky work, Lien’s biggest fight came at the hands of a lengthy illness, the suspected long-term result of a random highway accident. He passed away in 2010, but not before his body was slowly conquered over 8 years by a progressing immobility and dementia.

Between Breaths jumps time backwards, from the final moments of Lien’s life – in a wheelchair and dealing with brain damage – to his very first whale intervention. As his life becomes further and further confined, his mind stretches itself in memories of release and salvation.

Written by Robert Chafe
Directed by Jillian Keiley
Original Music Composed & Arranged by
The Once (Phil Churchill, Andrew Dale & Geraldine Hollett)
Additional Arrangements by Duane Andrews
Musical Direction Kellie Walsh

Cast:

Jon – Steve O’connell
Judy – Berni Stapleton
Wayne – Darryl Hopkins

Musicians:
Brianna Gosse, Steve Maloney & Kevin Woolridge

Dramaturgy………………………………………Iris Turcott
Additional Dramaturgy ……………………..Sarah Garton Stanley
Assistant Director………………………………Sharon King-Campbell
Costume Design…………………………………Shawn Kerwin
Sound Design & Technical Director……..Brian Kenny
Production Manager & Stage Manager…Mara Bredovskis
Managing Producer……………………………Patrick Foran
Production Assistant………………………….Nefren Feizo-Gas

Please be advised this performance contains occasional use of strong language.

Theatre PEI

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Tuesday Night is Back

Tuesday Night LIVE! Series Presents P.E.I.’s Finest  

-New weekly Mainstage series includes Fiddlers’ Sons, Alicia Toner, OBEMBE, Logan Richard, and more!-

Darcy Campbell is thrilled to be injecting a little more musical night-life into the downtown this winter. Beginning February 23, Confederation Centre will be presenting the weekly concert series Tuesday Night LIVE! Each night sets the spotlight on a different Island artist, offering something new and dynamic on the Centre’s Mainstage—all for just $10.00. 

“I think our patrons will enjoy the mix of established artists, a few rising stars of the local scene, and some talent that may be ‘new-to-you’,” he reflects. “We’re doing this all within a safely and socially-distanced Mainstage Theatre, offering Islanders some excellent songwriters and full bands that they might not typically see on this stage.”

He continues, “We are also encouraging patrons to support our great local restaurants and consider a downtown dinner before the show.” 

Concertgoers can bring a receipt from a local restaurant to the Tuesday night show — from that same day – and be entered to win a $50 restaurant gift card. Front-of-House attendants will collect signed receipts pre-show and a live draw will be conducted from the Mainstage.

Tuesday Night Live! will kick off on February 23 with Island folk mainstays Fiddlers’ Sons. One week later, the Centre welcomes 2020 Music PEI Entertainer of the Year Cory Gallant. Gallant’s rich, soul-filled vocals have helped gain him national exposure through CBC Searchlight, the ECMA’s, and the Canadian Country Music Association.

The rest of March packs a punch with weekly concerts featuring Afro-fusion artist OBEMBE (Tues. March 9); Brandon Howard Roy (March 16); Alicia Toner (March 23); and Logan Richard (March 30). 

Concert tickets are on sale now for $10, all in, with no additional service charges. A limit of 200 tickets will be sold to each performance.

Theatre PEI

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Taking a Breath


Harbourfront Theatre
Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT – 7:45 PM EDT Tickets http://www.harbourfronttheatre.com/artistic-fraud-between-breaths

Join us for this profoundly moving play that celebrates the wonders of the human spirit and the incredible impact one person can have. The story of Dr. Jon Lien (beloved and forever remembered in Newfoundland as the Whale Man) will touch your heart. With a focus on release and salvation, Between Breaths is an impeccably written piece of theatre, performed beautifully and backed by stirring live musical arrangements.

Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland’s

Written by Robert Chafe
Directed by Jillian Keiley
Music composed and arranged by The OnceWell known in Newfoundland as the Whale Man, Dr. Jon Lien during the course of his work pioneered techniques for rescuing whales entrapped in fishing nets. Often risking his very life in the water with the formidable and frightened animals, Dr. Lien would seek to earn their trust as much as the fishermen’s. He looked for the best way to free whales while doing as little damage to the fishing gear as possible.His efforts saved the lives of over 500 animals, and earned him the hard-won respect of the island’s fishermen. Despite his risky work, Lien’s biggest fight came at the hands of a lengthy illness, the suspected long-term result of a random highway accident. He passed away in 2010, but not before his body was slowly conquered over 8 years by a progressing immobility and dementia.Between Breaths jumps time backwards, from the final moments of Lien’s life – in a wheelchair and dealing with brain damage – to his very first whale intervention. As his life becomes further and further confined, his mind stretches itself in memories of release and salvation.

Written by Robert Chafe
Directed by Jillian Keiley
Original Music Composed & Arranged by
The Once (Phil Churchill, Andrew Dale & Geraldine Hollett)
Additional Arrangements by Duane Andrews
Musical Direction Kellie WalshCast:
Jon – Steve O’connell
Judy – Berni Stapleton
Wayne – Darryl HopkinsMusicians:
Brianna Gosse, Steve Maloney & Kevin Woolridge

Dramaturgy………………………………………Iris Turcott
Additional Dramaturgy ……………………..Sarah Garton Stanley
Assistant Director………………………………Sharon King-Campbell
Costume Design…………………………………Shawn Kerwin
Sound Design & Technical Director……..Brian Kenny
Production Manager & Stage Manager…Mara Bredovskis
Managing Producer……………………………Patrick Foran
Production Assistant………………………….Nefren Feizo-Gas

Please be advised this performance contains occasional use of strong language.

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Theatre PEI

Beauty and the Beast Is Back While Cinderella Disappears

The Guild Music Theatre School Presents:

Beauty and the Beast and The Not So Mysterious Disappearance of Cinderella

November 14 at 10:30am and 2pm
November 15th at 4pm

See both these great shows in one sitting!

Call The Guild box office at (902)620-3333 or drop by to purchase your tickets before they’re sold out!

Forever a beast until he’s loved.
This classic enchanted tale for the whole family is a tale as old as time.

This hilarious new version of Cinderella offers up a much more contemporary twist to the old tale. This time, Cinderella goes missing and everyone in the kingdom is a suspect. Packed with humor, fresh takes on classic characters, and plenty of pop-culture references, this play is sure to entertain.

All productions are being presented by The Guild with the permission of the Public Health Office of Prince Edward Island, and operates under its rules and guidelines. Within these guidelines, theatre seating has been limited to a maximum of 50 people. 

Chairs will be grouped with a maximum of 6 chairs per group, and each group is 6ft. from one another. It is possible that depending on the size of your party, you may be seated with other audience members within those 6 chairs.

If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please speak with our box office agents by calling 902-620-3333, or emailing boxoffice@theguildpei.com.

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Theatre PEI includes The Charlottetown Festival, The Guild, Harbourfront Theatre, The Island Fringe Festival, The Kings Playhouse, The River Clyde Pageant, Victoria Playhouse, Watermark Theatre, and Young at Heart.