It is highly unusual for me to post two Lunedi Lunacies in one day but I really had no choice – the Lunacies just keep piling up!
I will admit that I am not a fan (gasp of disbelief from the crowd) of most of the cult series – GofT, Downtown Monastery, Hitchhickers Guide or (shudder, followed by a gasp of disbelief from same crowd) Doctor Who. So I was a bit startled today when I read that there are people who are ranting and raving that the oft-morphing character of the good Doctor is to be played by a (eye-roll, shudder, and gasp of horror and disbelief from misogynistic crowd) … by a…. by a…. WOMAN! I shake my head, roll my eyes, shudder, and gasp in horror and disbelief that this sort of announcement would solicit a negative response. Or frankly any response at all but that’s another story.
Imagine then my delight to find that my favourite theatre troupe – SFSPT – has greeted the announcement with their normal saucy tongue in toe approach.
I share this particularly for my good friend Rainey on the West Coast. And with special thanks to the SFSPT for putting the world back into perspective.
Well the summer theatre scene here on the Island is an extremely busy one. In town we had the Charlottetown Festival, the Guild, and several smaller companies presenting musicals, revues, and “juke box” shows. Out of town theatres are producing everything from Shaw to Simon with a bit of Norm Foster* thrown in. However what seems to be missing is Shakespeare.
As someone who grew up with the Earle Grey Shakespeare Company on a midsummer’s eve in the Trinity Quadrangle and regular visits to Stratford it’s difficult to imagine summer without the Bard. Surely somewhere on the Island there is a venue suitable for one of the lighter comedies?
But in the meantime to fill that void I turned to those sources of theatrical excellence – the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.
And as Stratford is celebrating their first production of Romeo and Juliet back in 1960** I thought the SFSPT (now that’s a mouthful) production bears viewing.
Romeo and Juliet – Part the First
Romeo and Juliet – Part the Second
Well that’s my Shakespeare fix for the summer attended to – now to head up to North Rustico for a touch of Shaw.
*Foster is the most produced playwright in Canada with over 50 plays to his name and this year alone 142 productions scheduled around the world from Germany to Australia.
**My lord can it be really 57 years ago that I saw Julie Harris, Bruno Gerussi, Christopher Plummer, Kate Reid and Tony Van Bridge in that incredible production?????
Of course June is thought of as the month of brides and weddings but for our purposes let’s say that all the churches were booked and the weather wasn’t the best so we delayed the nuptials until mid-July. In many cultures it was the custom for brides to wear orange blossoms in their hair, in their corsages, and even garlands woven into their dresses. What the gorgeous scent added to the ceremony can only be imagined and this little entry from Les Fleurs Animées suggests the significance that was attached to the presence of the Épithalame or Orange blossom at a marriage.
Yesterday I mentioned St Mary’s Indian River, William Critchlow Harris’s gem of a church at Indian River near Malpeque on the North Shore of the Island. Built by the members of the congregation in 1902 it served the community until it was deconsecrated in 2009. During the 1970s-80s the church had deteriorated to a sorry state and neither the parish nor the diocese had the funds to make the necessary needed repairs and restoration work. The possibility of the church being torn down loomed and the thought of losing this historic and architectural treasure spurred Island folk and businesses to create a “Save St Mary’s” campaign in 1987.
Amongst the fund raising efforts was a series of Sunday Summer concerts in the church. The popularity of these concerts and the management of the programme itself became so enormous that the Indian River Festival Association was formed and incorporated in 1996. The Association is dedicated to the presentation of fine music at the Indian River Festival and to the upkeep and preservation of St Mary’s. The church was deconsecrated in 2009 and in 2010 the Association purchased the building and lands from the Diocese.
As well as the charming farmland setting and the beautiful exterior design, the church bears a Harris trademark – exceptional acoustics. As well as being an architect Harris was a musician – a violinist. He understood the use of woods and form to produce an interior that serves as the perfect setting for voices and instruments.
This year’s concert season is well under way and on Sunday we made our way up to Indian River to hear a choral and instrumental concert presented by the Festival and the PEI Symphony Orchestra. The chorus is amateur but under the direction of Kelsea McLean produces a sound that many professional choirs would envy. I was particularly struck by the men’s section – not always the strength of any amateur choral group.
Their central offering was Frostiana: Seven Country Songs. A cycle of poems by Robert Frost set by Randall Thompson which premiered October of 1959 in Amherst, Massachusetts where the poet made his home. Composed to commemorate the bicentennial of the town, Thompson had been urged to set The Gift Outright but found the piece was not appropriate to the occasion. He asked to be able to choose the texts himself and choose seven poems from Frost’s vast catalogue. Knowing that the male and female choruses rehearsed separately, he structured the work so that they sang together in only three of the seven movements. The other four movements are set for either male or female voices alone. Though perhaps a trifle lengthy for a Mercoledi Musicale I found it an interesting piece that I certainly wanted to hear again and wanted to share.
This performance comes from a concert by Harvard University Choir under the direction of Edward Elwyn Jones with Christian Lane accompanying. I’ve provided the time each movement begins in the video stream as well links to each of the poems should you wish to read them.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown