Bringing Canadian-made performances to audiences for more than 10 years, Festival Players of Prince Edward County is the region’s professional summer theatre company. The company’s current season was announced this May and runs from July 9 to Sept. 1. The season centres on the idea of community, which is evident in a selection of entertainment this year, including theatre, music, and art.
“To me, community is a word that relates to what we’re doing in this beautiful, historic town, that’s growing in this region, but it is also a running theme in the play selections we have chosen for the season,” said Graham Abbey, the company’s artistic director, in an interview with Intermission.
Kicking the season off in July, the company will present John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar. Abbey describes the play as “a gorgeous story about two families that live near each other in the Irish Midlands” and sees the theme of community in “negotiating property disputes,” “generational divides,” and “the unrequited love between two people in these neighbouring farms.”
Also in July, The Script Tease Project marries scripted theatre and improv as performers Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus build a play based on just two pages of an original script as the audience watches. One playwright will be Raymond Storey, who happens to live in Wellington, and the other will be Kat Sandler. “I think any time people laugh and come to live improv, you’re experiencing a communal thing,” said Abbey.
August sees actor and comedian Gavin Crawford performing one-person play Every Brilliant Thing. It is the story of a man who came of age with a suicidal mother, compiling a long list of reasons to live throughout his life.
“Every Brilliant Thing is a play I’ve fallen in love with since I read it a couple years back and I’ve always wanted to do it,” said Abbey. In fact, Abbey loves the play so much he wrote playwright Duncan Macmillan and made a plea, which he believes made it possible for Festival Players to do this play now.
“It’s a gorgeous story about a child and their mother and coping with issues of depression,” Abbey continued. “It is a very beautiful, life-affirming story about hope and love. Its power lies in breaking down the fourth wall between performer and audience creating a memorable sense of community or commune in the theatre space.”
As August comes to a close, Melody A. Johnson stars in her one-woman show Person of Interest—a comedy drama about a “housebound loser” with neighbours from hell. “Person of Interest is about community, but from a different angle,” said Abbey. “More from an urban angle and from somebody watching a neighbour—a very funny piece about urban communities.”
Abbey explained that he felt the rural and urban were balanced between Outside Mullingar and Person of Interest. He also wanted to balance the one-person plays in terms of gender representation, which was done through Person of Interest and Every Brilliant Thing.
Festival Players of Prince Edward County will also present Wellington Water Week featuring music and art as well as a summer camp program.
About Water Week, Abbey said: “Water Week certainly focuses on issues at the forefront of the community of Prince Edward County. Being bordered by water of course and being conscious of that ecology and that resource is important for the community.”
A final word on community: “For me, community, yes, means your postal code or area code and something you can define geographically,” said Abbey, “but also a community of like-minded people coming together to create something.”
Festival Players of Prince Edward County Season Details
July 9 to 21
Written by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Brenda Bazinet
Set on neighbouring farms in the Irish midlands, Outside Mullingar is a lyrical misfit-romance, full of gallows-humour, wit and wonder. Four-time Dora Award nominee, Gemini Award-winning actor and critically acclaimed director, Brenda Bazinet directs what The New York Times declared as “Mr. Shanley’s finest work since Doubt.” Outside Mullingar is an urgent reminder that life is fleeting and true love rare.
July 26 to 27
By and starring Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus /
Each evening, Festival Players will commission a playwright to write the first two pages of an original play. Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus will read the pages for the first time live in front of the audience. Then…they improvise the rest. From the foundation provided in the playwrights’ first two pages, Baram and Snieckus build an entire play before our very eyes.
August 2 to 17
Written by Duncan Macmillan, with Johnny Donahoe, starring Gavin Crawford, directed by Dylan Trowbridge
Every Brilliant Thing is a one-of-a-kind, interactive theatrical event, starring renowned actor and comedian, Gavin Crawford, that engages its audience in thrilling and original ways. At once profoundly funny and deeply moving, Every Brilliant Thing chronicles a young person’s quest to unearth every magnificent thing about being alive.
August 28 to September 1
By Melody A. Johnson, with additional dialogue by Eric Woolfe, starring Melody A. Johnson, directed by Rick Roberts
Written and performed by Melody A. Johnson, Person of Interest is the mostly true and very funny story of an actor driven to the brink. Directed by Rick Roberts, it is storytelling at its best and will strike a chord with anyone who has ever lived, loved, and battled with neighbours.
August 12 to 24
A two-week summer camp experience that looks to create a new play with a collective of grade eight to 12 students, and then share the results of the process with the community on stage at the Festival Players Studio Theatre in Wellington.
August 17 to 25
World-class music and art in the glorious surroundings of our local Great Lakes. Programming highlights include chamber, choral, pop and live film music and community-driven events. Featuring Sarah Slean, Opus 8, Bryan Cheng, Dominic Desautels, Danika Lorèn and many more.