We all have stories to tell. We share them with our friends, family and even the world through the social media. There is a time and space for this type of art form. I use my blog as a forum to share knowledge of culture, people, landscapes, business, heritage and history of the Great Northern Peninsula. Our way of life has been viewed by nearly 180 countries world-wide and edging closer to 200,000 views. I may not have the talents of my grandfather Mitchelmore for storytelling, but I do my best to convey what is truly authentic to rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
This past weekend, my sister and I had a unique opportunity to be in the audience at the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre and were spectators to a performance scripted by a local playwright, Megan Coles.
Our Eliza is real – authentic. A true depiction of what life was like growing up in rural Newfoundland & Labrador not so long ago. It is masterfully crafted – capturing the audience from the first soundbite as it works its way through a powerful coming of age story. One exuding Newfoundland humour and wit, colourful language and actions that will keep you wanting more, long after the curtain closes. Our Eliza is the type of story that must be told beyond centre stage, it should be shared with Outport Newfoundland & Labrador – one of which we can all reflect upon as to who we truly are as a people – a society. -Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
When I picked up my tickets at the box office, I was asked my address. I responded, “Green Island Cove”. The person asked where that was and I said, “The Great Northern Peninsula”. She said, I will be in for a real treat with tonight’s showing and that it has been getting great reviews from those in attendance. This certainly raised my expectations, especially since Friday and Saturday night’s performances had sold out.
The very first soundbite set the stage of framing for the audience the hardship the moratorium would have on our way of life in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. Actors Greg Malone (Author of “Don’t Tell The Newfoundlanders”), Joel Thomas Hynes and Renee Hackett turned the clock back more than twenty years and had us reminiscing only in the stories our parents and grandparents could had told us. Our Eliza, is the typical Newfoundland girl, who becomes a woman and the glue that kept many of us together especially when times got tough. The modest, yet powerful story that lasted about 1 hour and half was filled with humour, wit and antics in which I could easily relate. I do not want to give away the story-line I want you to go experience it for yourself.
These talents have engaged in putting our culture, our life experiences into performance, which brings together many art forms. We can all learn something about our roots and the role in which space plays in it. I took a Newfoundland Society & Culture, in which I learned much about community order and our every day space. It was pleasing to hear writer and co-producer Megan Coles, and co-producer Shannon Hawes, founders of The Poverty Cove Theatre Company open the show highlighting the minimalism utilized in staging, as well as the desire to be able to tell this story in non-conventional spaces. On March 2 & 3, the performance has found a home in the Library of the St. John’s Arts & Culture Centre. You can purchase tickets at www.artsandculturecentre.com.
Thank you Megan Coles for sharing with us your creative talents and all those involved with the current production. You have made Our Eliza, a part of all of us. I only hope this story gets told throughout rural Newfoundland & Labrador where it can be at home, especially the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
Newfoundlanders’ & Labradorian’s are well-known for their strong work ethic, craftsmanship, hospitality and of course, ability to perform.
This weekend marked the opening of the 4th Annual Big Droke Heritage Festival (visit www.bigdroke.ca for complete schedule). I rushed from work to attend the opening ceremonies. It was certainly a real treat for those able to be at the Big Droke Interpretation Centre. The opening performers were students of Viking Trail Academy’s Youth Choir, their voices angelic and their traditional tunes, spirited and touching. This group had stolen the limelight from Festival Organizers, Board Members, Politicians and other special guests. No spoken words were as powerful of those youth in that room. The power of music and the future in our youth is a bright shining star!
Dinner followed at the Plum Point Motel. A delicious serving of Fisherman’s Brewis was to be had, served with homemade pickles and the freshest of rolls. Tea or coffee was to compliment the choice of bakeapple, blueberry or partridge-berry tarts for desserts. The meal was delectable. All this was enjoyed by the sounds of very talented local entertainment strumming on their guitars. What more could one want, great food and songs in the company of friends. Well…there was more…
Around 8:30, “Rose” had dropped by to pay a visit. Rose is quite the character in these parts, with her well endowed top and bottom, splashy make-up and attire, all complimented with a firecracker personality and some witty humour that would light the place up. Yes, Rose made my night. I could not hold back the laughter, and neither could the others in the audience. Rose has an incredible talent to make others laugh – through her stories, jokes, song and silly antics. She was also complimented by fisherman Skipper George (pronounced Jaarge), who captivated the audience by sharing our local dialect and interacting to engage in some tongue-twisting. This led to 10 CFA’s (Come From Aways) to want to be screeched-in to become Honorary Newfoundlanders (for ceremony and significance, refer to earlier blog post, entitled “Black Gold”). It is pretty safe to say, that George and Rose left an impression with these 10 people, that this moment will be forever engrained the highlight of their vacation.
On Saturday night, I listened to the Wade Hillier Band at Thirsty’s Lounge. A little disappointed with the number people making their way out on this night, as the band really put on a show. They even played some of my favourite tunes. One specifically stands out from Ryan’s Fancy, “Candlelight & Wine” (click for youtube clip).
Last night I attended an evening of Music & Friends and Big Droke Idol. For the many in attendance, all eyes were watching, ears listening and lips smiling as they heard local resident Mr. Kean tell stories of the first settlers; Mr. Doyle play his squeezebox (accordion) and sing some karaoke; Ms. Hartery perform traditional Newfoundland songs, including a counting song that garnered the audience’s participation; Mr. Kennedy was on hand to play guitar, with a special talent to pick up the chords for any song; Ms. House sang a number of songs; Ms. Caines, 74, got up to share a tune among other singers, performers, storytellers and joke sharers. It was an evening to remember, to reflect of where we came from and where we are. Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Sinnicks performed and had the crowd cheering. Special Guest Singer from Cape Breton Rita McNeil even made an appearance. Well it wasn’t really her, but if you didn’t know, it would have been difficult to tell. This woman was remarkable, her beautiful voice, body movements and hand gestures had everyone’s attention. Not to mention the entrance and blowing the crowd kisses.
This was followed by an IDOL competition, with contestants ranging in age from 19 – 76. Imagine how much from we have in Rural Newfoundland. Stay young, fun at any age and share your talent, experiences and abilities.
After watching the acts, I realized Rural Newfoundland’s Got Talent. Does this mean the CBC & NTV television stations need to jump on the reality band wagon to give us our own show. The answer is…NO. However, we should take time to truly appreciate the talented people around us, that make contributions to our culture and heritage. Some preserve, while others help it evolve.
Still searching for my musical talents –
Friday, July 23, 2010.