‘Epic’ and eclectic

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Stephenville Theatre Festival opens this week with Pamela Morgan’s ‘The Nobleman’s Wedding’

“Epic” is how Stephenville Theatre Festival artistic director Lois Brown describes the lineup for the current season, which opens Friday.

J.T. Silver and Tara Manuel rehearse for “The Nobleman’s Wedding” for the Stephenville Theatre Festival. A folk opera, the piece was written by Pamela Morgan, who is the festival’s musical director this year. It opens Friday.

Headlining the season is musician Pamela Morgan’s folk opera, “The Nobleman’s Wedding,” a piece she began writing in the 1980s as an idea to combine storytelling and folk songs.

Based on a story she first heard during a trip to the Stephenville area in the 1970s, the show follows lovers Thomas, a sailor, and Nancy, a nobleman’s daughter, whose father opposes their relationship.

The piece was originally developed at the Sound Symposium and mounted by Rising Tide

Theatre in Trinity in 2005, and three years later, a new version of it toured the province’s arts and culture centres. The theatre festival version will be a new and not-yet-produced draft, with Morgan as musical director.

“I’m very privileged in that I have an awful lot of Newfoundland melodies in my head that I’ve learned over the years that are very rare, and I’ve incorporated them into this opera. What it is, is a feast of all the beautiful melodies that are woven among each other to make a complete story,” Morgan told The Telegram of the opera last year.

Musical focus

There’ll be a particular focus on music this year, with “The Country Show,” a production of country-themed music, and “Music of Home,” featuring traditional Newfoundland and Labrador music punctuated with stories, as well as the festival’s popular “A Night With …” series, featuring intimate evenings of song with local performers.

There will be a CD release show by Dave Panting, and Morgan will perform a concert.

Other productions include “The Birthday Party,” a comedy by Mireille Mayrand-Fiset about a woman who throws her own 30th birthday party, where guests bring their own personal demons; and “Jack Meets the Cat,” a show for families in the vein of a traditional Newfoundland Jack tale.

“Two Horse Tales” is a show by a mother-and-son duo: actress/

writer/filmmaker Ruth Lawrence and comedian Luke Lawrence. Ruth will turn 48 this year, while Luke will be 24 — she’ll be double his age for the only time in their lives.

The production explores some of their more funny and poignant mother-and-son moments.

The theatre festival will feature a public reading and workshopping of local playwright Jerry Doyle’s “Never Forgotten,” about the resettlement program in Lourdes in the 1930s, as well as Megan Coles’ “The Driftwood Trilogy,” including plays “Falling Trees,” “Building Houses” and “Wasting Paper,” about the logging and paper industry.

Montreal-based choreographer Peter Trosztmer is the festival’s artist-in-residence this year, and will lead a workshop and installation drawing on architecture, physical performance and manual construction.

Vibrant event

“This is going to be an incredible season. We will provide diverse and rich artistic experiences for area residents, visitors and artists from all over the country,” Brown said in a written statement. “We want our audiences not only to see plays and performances, but to have access to their insights as audience members, or simply have the opportunity to have a coffee or tea with an artist in this vibrant and interesting town.”

A detailed schedule for this year’s Stephenville Theatre Festival is available online at www.stephenvilletheatrefestival.com.

telegram@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Stephenville Theatre, Birthday Party

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Stephenville, Lourdes Montreal

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