Discovering Your Roots

Actor Discovers His Roots In Hunter River

Actor Paul Cowling is performing this summer at Watermark Theatre in North Rustico. This is his first time on the Island, but he has roots that go quite a ways back. “My mother’s family came to the Hunter River area from Scotland sometime in the mid-1800s, around 1839,” Cowling says. “My great-great grandfather, Farquhar Beaton, and his wife Flora, settled in that area. A land lease shows he was given 100 acres on the Old Princetown Road. He had 8 children, one of whom was Malcolm, who was my great-grandfather. Malcolm in turn had 22 children, most of whom were also born in Hunter River. My grandfather, Bentley, was among them.”

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Cowling says that his mother’s family were all close, so he met many of his grandfather’s siblings while he was growing up. “The Beatons were, and still are, very close to each other. They are also very good musicians, and play fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and banjo. When my great grandfather moved his family to Saskatchewan, he became well-known for his musicianship, winning “old time fiddle” contests around the region. This love and ability to play music was passed on to all of his children, and growing up I remember many, many kitchen parties that would go on long into the night. So, I hope to have a chance to go to the ceilidhs on the island, to listen to the music and relive those childhood memories.”

Paul is also a musician, learning the guitar in his early teens. “The Beatons all played by ear, and I was lucky enough to inherit whatever gene that was myself. Sadly, I contracted Lyme Disease several years ago, and it’s affected my hand. So, I haven’t been able to play since. I’m starting a new treatment in the fall, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to play again soon. My mother always said that the Beatons have music in their blood, and I do miss not being able to pick up the guitar from time to time.”

Though he’s been busy with rehearsing two shows, Cowling has had some time to explore the island. “It’s so beautiful here,” Cowling says. “More so than I could have imagined. I had a very limited idea of what the area was like. People talk about how red the soil is, but until you see it, in the fields or on the beaches, you really can’t begin to describe it. I’ve taken quite a few photos of it since I’ve been here. Also, it goes without saying that the people I’ve met on the island have been very friendly and welcoming.”

Once he is out of rehearsal, and the shows at Watermark are up and running, Paul plans to make the trip out to Hunter River. “I want to see the area that marked the beginning of the Beaton journey in Canada, and where Farquhar Beaton and his wife, and any of his children, are laid to rest. I want to pay my respects, and in some way thank him for coming to Canada and starting a life and a family that eventually led to my being here on the island. Also, to thank him for passing down, in whatever way, the love of music and talent for entertaining that resulted in my becoming an actor.”

Asked for a few final thoughts about his experience here in PEI so far, Cowling has this to say: “I feel like I’ve been given a gift. Here I am, in the home of my ancestors, working on two fantastic shows with an enormously talented and wonderful group of individuals. The island itself is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are lovely and kind, and the whole area is alive with amazing music and musicians. I can’t think of a better place to spend the summer. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a chance to do it again someday.”

Paul Cowling is performing in two shows at the Watermark Theatre this summer; “Dial M For Murder”, and “A Moon For The Misbegotten”. Both shows run all summer to September 1st. Tickets can be purchased via the company’s website http://www.watermarktheatre.com or by calling 902-963-3963.

For more information, or to further interview Paul Cowling, please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the PTN (Professional Theatre Network of PEI)

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Back to Life

Local Photographer Exhibits at Watermark Theatre’s Gallery

The distinguished Canadian photographer from New Glasgow PEI, Lionel F. Stevenson, will have his works on display at Watermark Theatre’s gallery this summer.  Mr. Stevenson studied photography in Toronto and was awarded Canadian Photographer of the Year in 1967. In 1977 he founded a commercial photography and design studio, Camera Art in Charlottetown which he operated until his death in 2017.

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Lionel embarked on a great number of photographic projects, including “Elders of Island” which is a collection of 30 portraits of Island elders purchased by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, a series of architectural books with Scott Smith and “Document of Our Times” a 1978 exhibition at The Confederation Centre that recorded Island life.

In 2012-13 Lionel had a retrospective, “50 Years of Photographs” at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, which revealed to the viewer the range and dedication of his talent. To quote Pan Wendt, curator of Lionel’s retrospective, “If the photograph has always been a matter of evidence, Lionel Stevenson’s photographs are evidence not only of moments in the past but the lasting strength of the attentive hand and eye.”

The Watermark Gallery is a fine art gallery exhibiting original art created by local artists, it opens to the public on June 26th and is open daily except Sundays until August 31st. Call the theatre for operating hours at 902-963-3963.

For more information please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

New Music for a Murder

Watermark Theatre is thrilled to have local PEI composer Leo Marchildon back at the theatre this summer composing music for their upcoming production of “Dial M For Murder” by Frederick Knott. Leo composed music for “Blithe Spirit” and “The Glass Menagerie” two years ago for the theatre to great acclaim.
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“I’m thrilled to be working once again with Watermark”, says Leo, “unlike my earlier scores for the theatre, I’ve decided with “Dial M” to focus on moods and textures rather than developing character themes, as the play revolves around plot development as opposed to character evolution. My score is reminiscent of the Hitchcockian thrillers of the ’50’s, yet laced with a contemporary sensibility through additional sound design. The slightly skewed harmonies in this score suggest that nothing is quite what it seems, and I hope this pervasive use of dissonance will help to enhance the sense of mystery and tension for the audience.”

Originally hailing from Toronto, Leo earned degrees in piano, organ, violin and composition before attending the University of Southern California graduate program in film scoring. He has since written for television, film, and stage as well as working as music editor for such TV shows as Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and The Adventures of Sinbad. His score for the musical drama The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery precipitated his move to PEI in 2007. In 2017 he was commissioned by the PEI Symphony to compose “Song of a Tree” as part of the Cantata for Canada 150. He currently serves as organist/music director for St. Dunstan’s Basilica, is music supervisor for the Diocese of Charlottetown, and is the Atlantic representative for the National Council of Liturgical Music. He also conducts the PEI Pops!

Written in 1952, Dial M For Murder tells the frightening story of a husband planning the murder of his adulterous wife. He arranges the perfect crime by blackmailing a scoundrel he used to know into strangling her at a time when he has the perfect alibi. Of course, things do not turn out as planned. The play that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s film classic weaves an ever-tightening web of danger and deception. Full of twists, turns, and suspense, this gripping thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat.

“Dial M For Murder” runs from June 26th to September 1st at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico.

To book tickets go to watermarktheatre.com or call 902-963-3963

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the PTN (Professional Theatre Network of PEI)

For more information please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Welcomes Summer Interns

The summer interns have started work at the Watermark Theatre and this year’s crop are an exciting mix of young theatre professionals from the Island and those from further afield. This is the 3rd year of the Mentorship Program at Watermark, which welcomes current theatre students and recent graduates to train backstage at the theatre all summer.

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This year’s interns are Gillian Gallivan (Stage Management), Rachel Farmer (Wardrobe), Sarah Jewell (Scenic Art & Props), Rachel Leibovitz (Carpentry & Technical), and Madeleine Socha (Arts Administration).

Gillian Gallivan was raised on PEI and has been an active member of the community theatre scene since she was very young. She attended Holland College’s School of Performing Arts, graduating with a Theatre Performance diploma in 2017. Gillian hopes to get some hands on experience before moving in the fall to Vancouver, BC where she will be studying Stagecraft and Event Technology at Douglas College in New Westminster.

Rachel Farmer was born and raised in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and has loved the theatre, especially the costumes, ever since she was little. Deciding to pursue that love, she is now going into her third year in the Costume Studies program at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Having been away for most of the year, Rachel is excited to be back on the Island and thrilled to be working at the Watermark as the Wardrobe intern. “This is my first time doing an internship like this, and it’s inspiring to be working in the field and getting the experience in an actual theatre as well as working with a wonderful cast and crew of people”, says Rachel.

Sarah Jewell is from Teviotdale, Ontario and graduated from the Theatre Arts Production program at Laurentian University, after completing two years at Cambrian College. She has worked on Thorneloe Productions over the past couple of years including Memories of Water, The Dead Mess Project, Drag Queens on Trial, Blood Relations, and Turmspitze. “I’m extremely excited to be here in PEI and able to have this opportunity to learn in this beautiful province”, says Sarah.

Rachel Leibovitz is from Ottawa and spent three years after high school working miscellaneous jobs before she decided on a theatre program at Acadia, NS. She is entering her final year, and has worked on various crews, having had the opportunity to play a lead, work as Dramaturg, as well as Set Crew Head. Seeking more challenging experiences, Rachel is excited to be at Watermark and to experience the charm of the island. “Watermark’s internship position will give me the experience necessary to transition comfortably from schooling to a more demanding environment,” says Rachel.

Currently working on a certificate for Arts Administration from Humber College, Madeleine Socha is working at Watermark as part of a co-op to complete the program. Madeleine, who is from Toronto, hopes to continue working in theatres as an Arts Administrator, and is very excited to be spending her summer with the Theatre.

Watermark Theatre is a perfect training ground – small enough to nurture and large enough to have processes and policies in place. All sets, costumes and props are realized on site and production standards are high. Though there are many theatre training institutions in Canada there are very few internships available. Hands-on experience and training under a good mentor is one of the best ways to learn and grow.

The program is generously sponsored by the Joan & Regis Duffy Foundation, the RBC Emerging Artist Project, and Skills PEI.

Watermark is a proud member of the PTN – Professional Theatre Network of PEI

For more information please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Hear Ye Hear Ye

Plays Announced For Play Reading Series Featuring Local Playwrights

Three local PEI playwrights will have their plays read at the Watermark Theatre this August as part of the theatre’s Play Reading Series. The three plays are “Through Eden”  by Stuart Smith, “Past Artistry” by J.J. Steinfeld, and Jennifer Platts-Fanning’s play “Held to the Fire”.

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Actors from the Watermark acting company, with scripts in hand, will read the plays to an audience. This allows the playwrights to further develop their work. “Plays are meant to be heard and it’s so helpful to the development of a play for a playwright to be in a theatre amongst the audience to hear how the play is working”, says Watermark Artistic Director Robert Tsonos.

Stuart Smith‘s play tells the story of Evey Gaudet who has arrived back on PEI to see her old flame, Aden MacKenzie, after a three year absence. Over the course of a single, storm-filled evening, old resentments are revisited, and new secrets are revealed. Can the pieces of the past be put back together again? Stuart studied theatre arts at Acadia, where he completed a thesis on the plays of Peter Shaffer. In the decades since then, he acted, directed, and produced shows in New Brunswick and Maine, in both community theatre and through drama programs at schools. In the early 90s, he co-founded the St. Croix Theatre Company in New Brunswick. He was artistic director of that company for six years, until he moved to PEI. Since moving to the island in 2000, Stuart’s focus has been on educational theatre in junior high, but he has recently started writing again for the stage as well as getting back on the boards as an actor.

J. J. Steinfeld is a fiction writer, poet, and playwright who lives on Prince Edward Island. He has published eighteen books, including Anton Chekhov Was Never in Charlottetown (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), An Unauthorized Biography of Being (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), and Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be (Poetry, Guernica Editions). Over fifty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States, including the full-length plays The Franz Kafka Therapy Session, The Golden Age of Monsters, and A Television-Watching Artist; and the one-act plays Godot’s Leafless Tree, The Waiting Ends, The Entrance-or-Not Barroom, The Word-Lover, Laugh for Sanity, Back to Back, Imaginative Drinking, In a Washroom of a Prestigious Art Gallery, More Than Money, A Play of Disbelief, Memory Sounds, and A Question of Eternity.

J.J.’s play Past Artistry deals with the relationship between creativity, the past, family, artistic life and artistic vision. A forty-seven-year-old artist is visited by the man, now old and wanting to confess his act before he dies, who shot him thirty-two years before. The shooting, when the artist was fifteen, led him to become an artist and he does not want to know the truth about the unknown assailant who has never been caught. The entrance of the old man into his life affects the artist’s relationship with his artist daughter and with his art-dealer friend.

Jennifer Platts-Fanning is a playwright and short story writer. She spent a year acting in various ACT (A Community Theatre) gigs including Plays in a Day, A Man of Two Minds and Our Town.  As a backpacking vagabond in her 20s, she slung pints for a living at The Worlds End in Edinburgh, Scotland and “worked” alongside Christopher Lee as an extra in the movie Greyfriars Bobby. While living in Cork, Ireland she once sat sipping warm Guinness in a small, brightly lit IRA pub teaching the gruff old men the lyrics to Barrett’s Privateers. Jennifer’s ultimate goals for writing Held to the Fire are twofold. Firstly, she hopes people struggling with bipolar will feel represented, understood and heard. Secondly, she hopes those outside the disorder will have a better understanding of this life-changing illness.

Jennifer’s play’s main character, Phoenix, is spinning, caught in her own maelstrom. Inner demons threaten to dismantle her life. A lover, a mother, a woman saddled with a frenzied mind, she journeys from constellation mythologies to moon gardening, yurts to communing with Death. A raw and unveiled window into the dark depths of human consciousness.

The dates and times of the plays are:

August 4th at 1:30PM – Through Eden by Stuart Smith
August 15th at 1:30PM – Past Artistry J.J. Steinfeld
August 22nd at 1:30PM – Held to the Fire by Jennifer Platts-Fanning

Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased by going to the company’s website http://www.watermarktheatre.com

For more information, or to set up an interview with any of the playwrights please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Reignited Music Series Reignited

Watermark Theatre’s Classic Music Reignited Series Announced

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Watermark is pleased to announce the Classic Music Reignited programming for the 2018 summer season. Entering its 5th year, the series features Island musical artists interpreting classic composers. This summer’s theme is Songs Through the Decades. “This year we will focus our interpretations on various decades that produced some unique music and even created new genres of music. It was a lot of fun putting together this series as the music from these decades is so rich, it’s challenging to whittle it down to just a few songs”, says series curator Rob Oakie.
The three Sunday performances are:

July 22nd at 7:30PM –  Dance through the 70’s
Disco was created by combining R&B and rock that resulted in a funk based dance music that became an international phenomenon. Three of the biggest proponents and innovators of the style were the Bee Gees (everyone remembers Saturday Night Fever), Donna Summer, the queen of disco, and KC and The Sunshine Band. Unique arrangements of these artists will be performed by our headliner The Collective. This trio of musicians have been at the core of the jazz scene on PEI for close to 3 decades now. They are Deryl Gallant on bass (remember the Jive Kings), Alan Dowling on drums (also a Jive King alumnus and countless other bands and recordings) and Ian Toms on guitar (arguably the top jazz guitarist to come out of PEI). They will be supported by Jocelyn Reyome, an international student at the amazing Holland College School of Performing Arts from Massachusetts. Jocelyn is a multi-instrumentalist and a terrific singer. Our special guest for the evening will be Liam Corcoran (formerly lead singer of Two Hours Traffic). ·

August 5th at 7:30PM – 80’s British Pop
The 80’s produced some memorable (and forgettable) music, but Britain was leading the creative charge. David Bowie was a trailblazer and one of the first of the androgynous type stars. His music evolved from folk, to rock, pop and was even a crooner with a bounty of hits. The Eurythmics also identified with the androgynous movement and explored the new synth driven pop sound with songs like Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). Sade was definitely not androgynous and with jazz influenced hits like Smooth Operator oozed sensuality. Our interpreters for the evening will include headliner Rachel Beck (formerly of the Beck Sisters). Rachel’s recent album features the #1 CBC song Reckless Heart. Supporting Rachel is pianist and singer/songwriter Kim Dunn from Nova Scotia. An award-winning musician, producer, musical director and arranger, Kim has been fostering a successful musical career for over 30 years. Special guest for the evening is North Rustico’s own and brilliant guitarist, Nick Gauthier. Nick has toured across Canada and internationally and currently resides in Ottawa. ·

August 19th at 7:30PM – Zoot Suits and Speakeasies, Music of the 30s & 40s
Inspired by jazz roots from the early 1900’s, the music of the 30’s and 40’s combined show tunes, big band swing and pop music of the times and created many songs that are still popular today. Featuring the music of the likes of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday and more, that era was a prolific time for American music. The Music PEI award winning Amanda Jackson Band is well known and loved by PEI music fans. They will be performing as a trio and will bring their own new and fresh arrangements to some time-tested standards. Supporting them will be the multi-talented Mark Haines who many will know through his shows with Patrick Ledwell. Mark’s career has spanned over 40 years and taken him around the world. The special guest for this show is the virtuoso ragtime piano player Max Keenlyside. Max has been a regular performer at the famous Scott Joplin Festival in Missouri since he was 16.

All tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 902-963-3963 or at the company’s website watermarktheatre.com

For more information or to interview Rob Oakie, please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark is a proud member of the PTN – Professional Theatre Network of PEI

Atlantic Drama Festival On Tap

Next weekend, Watermark Theatre will host the National Theatre School of Canada’s Atlantic Drama Festival at their theatre in North Rustico.

Formerly known as the Sears Atlantic Drama Festival, the event which runs from May 18th to 20th, brings together high school students from throughout the region to view, discuss and enjoy each other’s creative efforts, under the guidance of experienced adjudicators. The Festival facilitates and inspires a love of theatre, team work, problem solving, originality and entrepreneurship. “I am excited for students, teachers and community members across several provinces as we enter this new period in our history. Now, under the banner of the National Theatre School Drama Festival we look forward to our first season of compelling and unique theatre for and by theatre students,” said Wayne Fairhead, Executive Director of the organization.

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“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the volunteers, teachers, coaches, theatre professionals, adjudicators, parents and friends of the festival who give their time, expertise and encouragement to make this festival possible. At NTS, we believe that theatre allows people to imagine, think and feel collectively. The Drama Festival is a fine example of the power of theatre to encourage empathy, creativity, debate and community building,” said Gideon Arthurs, CEO of the National Theatre School of Canada.

The Atlantic Drama Festival is part of a trio of Drama Festivals, the other two are in Ontario and B.C. all now under the umbrella of the National Theatre School. The Ontario Drama Festival, founded in 1946, is Canada’s oldest theatre festival. It helped launch the careers of numerous actors, directors and production professionals, including actors Margot Kidder, Rachel McAdams, Yanna McIntosh and R.H. Thomson, as well as movie director David Cronenberg. In 2018, the National Theatre School of Canada added new artistic resources for participants and is working to eventually expand the festivals to include more young artists, as well as provide financial and administrative support.

About the National Theatre School of Canada: Founded in 1960, in Montreal, the National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) offers incomparable training for theatre artists of all kinds, actors, directors, designers, writers, production specialists, to create work that matters. A co-lingual school, NTS includes both an English section and a French section. The School has graduated some 2000 artists who have made incalculable contributions to our collective identity. Some of this country’s most important theatre, performance, film, and television artists are among their ranks, and the School’s influence is felt from coast to coast to coast and across the globe.

Watermark is thrilled to host this remarkable event and look forward to inspiring the next generation of theatre artists. “We continue to focus a lot of our energies on training, mentoring, and inspiring young theatre artists”, says Watermark Artistic Director Robert Tsonos. “This Festival, along with our professional mentorship program and our teenage acting conservatory really sets our theatre up as a training ground for the future of theatre in this province and across the country”.

For more information, or to set up an interview with any of the participants please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre
57 Church Hill Ave
North Rustico, PE
C0A 1X0
(902) 963-3963
http://www.watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the Professional Theatre Network of PEI.