By Shelley Cameron-McCarron
A ‘Great Escape’ — with Robin Hood and Festival Antigonish
All the world’s a stage, and Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre (FAST) certainly proves that true with exciting plans as they venture outdoors to present Robin Hood: The Great Escape for a three-week run, Aug. 3 to 19. The repertory theatre is partnering with Keppoch Mountain, in Antigonish’s outskirts, to bring theatre-goers a classic tale al fresco. “In response to the pandemic, we wanted to ensure that we can bring back live theatre, but do so in a safe and responsible way,” says FAST managing director Reema Fuller. “We are partnering with Keppoch Mountain to produce a safe and action-packed outdoor theatre production.” The show will take place in various locations along Keppoch’s accessible trail (“surrounded by majestic trees and the beautiful sounds of summer”) so that people can watch it in small groups as they travel from scene to scene. “Audience numbers will be capped as per public health guidelines, and there will be lots of room for social distancing as needed.” After the opening scene, medieval characters will lead small groups to watch the story unfold, before gathering for the finale. The promenade-style play will feature some of Nova Scotia’s finest artists and local volunteer actors as bandits, guards, spies, and production and backstage volunteers. “The response from the community to this project has been fantastic, and we can’t wait to bring it all to life,” says Fuller. FAST is also planning a series of smaller events — presentations of music, dance, and outdoor bicycle puppet theatre. These shows will be a hybrid of small, in-person audiences, livestreaming, and slightly larger outdoor audiences.
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Powerful, rewarding performances, community connections
“We’re planning to have a busy summer as we did last year,” says Troy Greencorn, executive director at the deCoste Performing Arts Centre in Pictou, which expects to host over 20 shows (many with a livestreamed component) this summer with acts including Lenny Gallant, Rum Ragged, Tara MacLean’s Atlantic Blue, and Myles Goodwin Trio. The centre’s also partnered with several community organizations, working with them to adapt their events so they still happen, in the deCoste’s space. As an example, when the Pictou Lobster Carnival announced they weren’t able to proceed, the deCoste reached out and the two organizations are working on an adaptive version of the carnival with shows planned at the centre July 8 to 10. Greencorn says after reopening last year, the deCoste hosted over 35 shows between August and December, with a comprehensive plan in place. “All went wonderfully and safely on every level.” In many instances, it was the first time for the artist back on stage and patrons in seats, creating a powerful, rewarding vibe. “We saw it was possible to provide live performances at a reduced scale with safety procedures in place.” The deCoste also brings back its tented venue on its deck overlooking the harbour, providing space for 50 people for shows and after-shows. “We’re doing as much as we can safely to give people a live performance experience.”
Tickets and up-to-date information: www.decostecentre.ca
Outdoor concerts, more, rock TataFest, Grace Jollymore
Four days of open-air concerts will bring diverse, local, top-tier acts to Senator’s Stage, an outdoor stage next to Creamery Square, in Tatamagouche, during TataFest Aug. 26-29. As well, starting June 12, the Grace Jollymore Arts Centre will highlight music, theatre, and comedy Saturday nights through summer in this coastal community. Marshall Feit, Grace operations manager, says TataFest plans will see over 30 local performers perform from Thursday’s opening through to Sunday’s breakfast gig. Highlights include Catherine McClellan and Atlantic artists on Friday, while BIPOC artists headline Saturday night, serving up great R&B and hip hop. “We wanted to make the festival more diverse, and we’ve been able to highlight some amateur, but high-quality artists,” says Feit, who notes this alcohol-free event — open to all ages — will present great entertainment. “We try to offer high-quality urban performances in rural Nova Scotia. Rural Nova Scotia deserves easy access to high-quality performances.” Among TataFest’s acts are Waants; Gianna Lauren; Isaac Vallentin; Cameron Hawes; Catherine McClellan; Keeper E.; Voodoo Sometimes; Kurtis Eugene; Yohvn Blvck; Wolf Castle; Lyra Davis Chieffy; and Hillsburn. At the Grace, Saturday night shows start June 3 with EMCA-nominated Rube and Rake, and follow weekly with Kurtis Eugene and Quoth the Raven; JP Cormier; Dave Gunning; a Comedy Night with Matt Baker; David Francey; and Troubling Joy Outdoor Theatre Production. The Grace also presents visual arts at the Ice House Gallery.
Ticket and up-to-date information: www.gracejollymore.com
Summer camps, musical fun
While the Marigold Cultural Centre in Truro doesn’t normally run a lot of shows in summer, they do offer a range of options, notably children’s theatre camps. Operating with COVID-19 protocols in place, the Marigold Youth Spotlight Theatre will present three weeks of musical theatre day camp, July 5 to 23, with cast members (auditions are open to youth 10 to 18) honing skills and presenting the junior version of The Music Man. Additionally, Truro native and acclaimed actor Andrew Morrisey returns in August for the 13 season to lead popular drama and musical theatre camps for youth aged seven to 14. What’s more, the Marigold sees Christine Campbell & Blake Johnston slated to perform June 19 with Myles Goodwyn on June 25. The centre looks forward to planning Acadienne Day Aug. 15 in conjunction with École Acadienne, and Karaoke For a Cause on Aug. 20. In this annual event, hosted on the Marigold’s front lawn, participants pay $2 per song with monies going to a local charity. Additionally, the Marigold houses the MMFI art gallery and the Truro Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. “We’re excited we’re open and doing things. We want to do as much as we can for the community,” says executive director Farida Gabbani.
Tickets and up-to-date information: www.marigoldcentre.ca