Provincial drama festival kicks off tonight

Tara Bradbury
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Basement Theatre to be renamed to honour Barbara Barrett

Lynda Boyd, star of “Republic of Doyle” will adjudicate entries to the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Drama Festival. The festival starts tonight and runs until Saturday. — Telegram file photo

The St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre’s Basement Theatre will be renamed this week, in honour of the matriarch of theatre in this province.

The space will be renamed The Barbara Barrett Theatre Wednesday evening, following a presentation of “In Town Tonight,” a performance directed by Barrett.

Barrett, who will turn 90 this year, has been involved in theatre in Newfoundland and Labrador since she arrived here from England in 1946. Over the years, she has directed children and high school theatre, formed drama troupes in communities across the province, adjudicated drama festivals, and written and directed many plays. As artistic director of the Basement Theatre from 1975 until her retirement in 1991, she directed more than 40 plays and facilitated the presentation of more than 1,000 performances.

“In Town Tonight,” recognizing 12 local writers, will be staged as the curtain-raiser production for this year’s Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Drama Festival, with performances tonight, Wednesday and Friday.

The drama festival will happen at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre tonight until Saturday, with performances by Corner Brook’s Off-Broadway Players, Avion Players from Gander, Mokami Players from Goose Bay and Carol Players and Northern Lights Theatre Company, both from Labrador West. This is the first time in 10 years the festival is being held in St. John’s.

Adjudicator for the festival this year is Gemini-nominated actress Lynda Boyd, known for playing Rose on CBC-TV’s “Republic of Doyle.” Boyd will do a public adjudication of about 10 to 15 minutes after each performance, followed the next day by a “coffee critique,” where she will discuss the play in detail with the cast and director. On Saturday, she will present her final assessment at the awards presentation following the production.

The drama festival will open tonight with the Off-Broadway Players’ production of “Hysteria” by Terry Johnson, directed by Jordan Stringer. A comedy, “Hysteria” sees one of Freud’s earliest patients returning to haunt him, but finding Salvador Dali hiding in the cupboard. Things go off the rails when the two eccentric minds collide and an attractive, naked female student of Freud’s appears in the closet.

Other performances will include “33 Variations,” “Night, Mother,” “Fighting Words,” and “Bedtime Stories.”

Tickets for the provincial drama festival are $25 ($22 for students and seniors) per night, or a festival pass is available for $75. Tickets can be purchased at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre, online at, or by calling 729-3900.

 This version has been corrected to include the correct phone number for tickets.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Basement Theatre, The Barbara Barrett Theatre, Carol Players and Northern Lights Theatre Company CBC

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, England, Corner Brook Gander Goose Bay Labrador West Doyle Broadway

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Recent comments

  • Susan
    April 10, 2012 - 13:11 Arts & Culture site gives descriptions of all the plays I love a theatre festival & am hoping to get to as many plays as I can. Also, there is a theatre festival pass covering all 5 plays from Tue to Sat for $ 75.