In the mid-1970s, actor, writer and director Rhonda Payne returned to Newfoundland, having moved to Ontario as a child. Feeling a connection to this province and a need to capture its culture, she recorded stories from people living on the Northern Peninsula.
Those stories inspired “Stars in the Sky Morning,” Payne’s play (created with Jane Dingle and Jan Henderson) exploring the lives of five women and the difficult life choices they face living in rural Newfoundland.
Bare Boards Theatre is presenting “Stars in the Sky Morning” at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s from tonight until Saturday, starring Deidre Gillard-Rowlings — from the Northern Peninsula — and Willow Kean. The women each play multiple characters, ranging in age from eight to 90.
“(The play) is as important as a piece of Newfoundland’s mostly unwritten women’s history as it is an important theatrical work,” Jillian Keiley, now artistic director of English theatre at the National Arts Council, once wrote.
Directed by Varrick Grimes, “Stars in the Sky Morning” will open at 8 p.m. tonight and run at the same time Friday and Saturday, with a half-price matinée Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets for the evening performances are $22 ($17 for seniors and students), available at the Hall box office, by calling 753-4531, or online at www.rca.nf.ca.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council will present its annual Rhonda Payne Theatre Award during the opening night reception. The $500 cash award assists women in theatre in Newfoundland and Labrador who are struggling to achieve their goals as actors or writers.
Payne set up the award by dedicating royalties from the production and publication of her works to a fund to assist women in the local theatre community. After she died in 2002, her father established the Rhonda Payne Memorial Fund.