Deidre Gillard-Rowlings (left) and Willow Kean bring to life outport Newfoundland in the 1940s. — Submitted photo
‘Stars in the Sky Morning’ has two performances at LSPU Hall today
An evocative memory play about life in outport Newfoundland some 70 years ago, Rhonda Payne’s iconic “Stars in the Sky Morning,” first staged at the LSPU Hall in 1978, returned on Thursday for a three-day run.
Deidre Gillard-Rowlings and Willow Kean enact and give voice to nine females, young and old, at various stages of their lives, lived in the fictive outport of King’s Cove, in the faraway time when there were more sunshiny than rainy days, and where children played amongst trees and grass and beach and rocks.
Changing costume and character on stage, sometimes miming action, shifting between children and adults, in colloquial language they describe and evoke the hard physical work, the chores, the outport weddings, the village socials and the importance of family.
Interspersed with snatches of song and colourful anecdotes, while scrubbing and sweeping or sitting and resting, they gossip about teenage marriage, large families, the shortcomings of husbands, tangled family relations and the perils of birthing babies with the assistance of barely qualified midwives.
They reminisce about gruelling winter journeys by komatik, about old-fashioned radios powered by car batteries, about the scourge of TB, about berry picking and about ghosts and tokens.
While the play may not aspire to be world-shaking, it is nonetheless honest and affective, and beautifully shaped and crafted.
Whether you saw it in 1978 or not, you will enjoy this charming and funny piece, featuring fine vernacular performance in varied voices and characters by Keans and Gillard-Rowlings.
Directed by Varrick Grimes, the Bare Boards Theatre revival of “Stars in the Sky Morning” continues at the LSPU Hall, closing its three-day run today, with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. and evening performance at 8 p.m.
With no intermission, running time is 90 minutes.