Announcing Blyth Festival's 2018 Season
In announcing the 2018 summer season at the Blyth Festival, Gil Garratt, Artistic Director, says "the season ahead will be our boldest in years... weeks longer, with five mainstage shows, another series in our Phillips Studio, and the return of last year's feathered smash hit. Come whet your appetite (or maybe wet your whistle?) for Original Canadian Theatre."
MAY 30 to JUNE 15 THE PIGEON KING by The Company Weeks after we closed, folks were still phoning our box office for tickets and so, back by popular demand, The Pigeon King returns for a limited engagement to kick off the 2018 season. If you missed it this summer, come back and catch what Stage Door's Christopher Hoile calls "fascinating, highly entertaining" and a "vibrant depiction of one of the greatest, most bizarre frauds in Canadian history."
When Arlan Galbraith created his company, Pigeon King International, he boasted some fifty-years as a top breeder. Claiming to have access to lucrative pigeon racing markets in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East, the Pigeon King began to sign ten-year contracts with guaranteed profits for buyers of his breeding pairs, promising to personally buy back all of the chicks. Pigeon King International became a massive empire, worth tens of millions of dollars, only to collapse in a bankruptcy filing of epic proportions. Finally convicted of fraud in a Waterloo Court, Arlan Galbraith was sentenced to seven years, for his preposterous Pigeon Ponzi scheme. Full of original music, show stopping performances by the ensemble, and an incredible scope of real-life research by the actors themselves, The Pigeon King is a quintessential Blyth play, leading long-time critic Robert Reid to remark: "Of all the regional theatres across Canada, no theatre has been as truthful and as faithful to its core audience as Blyth."
JUNE 20 to AUGUST 23 | WORLD PREMIERE THE NEW CANADIAN CURLING CLUB by Mark Crawford From Mark Crawford, the playwright who brought us the smash hits The Birds and the Bees and Stag and Doe, comes a hilarious new comedy with a rich heart. The essential premise is a small town in rural Southwestern Ontario with an ice rink, a refugee resettlement program, and a "Learn to Curl" class. In an effort to welcome sponsored Syrian refugees to the town, the municipality offers a free, introductory "Learn to Curl" program, open to anyone. In addition to a young Syrian girl, everyone who signs up happens to be a newcomer from across the globe, each with their own story. The night before the very first class, the woman from municipal Parks & Rec, who organized the outreach event, falls and breaks her hip. Consequently, the duty to teach "Learn to Curl" falls on the custodian/Zamboni driver, Stuart, a former champion curler, and unfortunately, a man with some opinions about immigrants.
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: the highly coveted Royal Highlander trophy. "Mark knows our audience so very well and has built something truly special for us, with plenty of curling on stage," says Garratt.
JUNE 27 to AUGUST 11 | WORLD PREMIERE JUDITH: Memories of a Lady Pig Farmer by Heather Davies Based on the novel by Aritha van Herk Adapted for the stage by Heather Davies 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.
AUGUST 1 to SEPT. 15 1837: THE FARMERS' REVOLT by Rick Salutin and Theatre Passe Muraille 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. Well, 1837: The Farmers' Revolt was the show those actors were working on at the time, with a young, upstart, hardly known, 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, and rise up to take them down. Fighting against a class of entitled would-be aristocrats, the farmers in the play are frontier people, eager to break the bonds of tyranny and forge their own country, free of British rule, and featuring incredible turns by the likes of local historic titans Van Egmond, Tiger Dunlop, and William Lyon MacKenzie. As 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."
AUGUST 8 to SEPT. 15 | WORLD PREMIERE WING NIGHT AT THE BOOT by The Company Working from local stories and memories of the now infamous Rubber Boot, we are creating a show that both celebrates and lampoons 141 years of the Blyth Inn. 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, crusty bartenders, and dollar draft night, Wing Night at the Boot promises a familiar portrait of an all too familiar place. "Imagine David Attenborough pulling up a barstool on a Thursday night and falling in love with the locals," says Garratt.
Blyth Festival acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Foundation.
The Blyth Festival is a professional theatre that enriches the lives of its audience by producing and developing plays that give voice to both the region and the country. The theatre produces a repertory summer season of exclusively Canadian theatre, with an emphasis on new work. Blyth Centre for the Arts, including the Blyth Festival, was founded in 1975.