The Beacon Herald Tells SpringWorks’ Story!

This year’s SpringWorks program includes more than 50 events

Donal O'Connor

By Donal O’Connor, The Beacon Herald

Friday, April 12, 2013 3:40:19 EDT PM

Director Heather Davies gives an overview of her stage adaptation of the novel Judith, a reading with music and pigs that will be part of the SpringWorks festival in Stratford in May. (SCOTT WISHART, The Beacon Herald)Director Heather Davies gives an overview of her stage adaptation of the novel Judith, a reading with music and pigs that will be part of the SpringWorks festival in Stratford in May. (SCOTT WISHART, The Beacon Herald)

More than 100 artists will perform at six venues.

Daytime and late night performances are geared to audiences of all ages.

Theatre, readings, music, art, poetry, cabaret and comedy — even a fashion show — are in the mix.

In a program spread over 10 days, SpringWorks in its third season will roll out more than 50 events featuring 34 companies. Shows are centred in Stratford but venues include St. Marys and Listowel.

“ We cover all the arts,” said artistic producer Eileen Smith, who unveiled the program Thursday at Revel Caffe, a venue earmarked for free poetry recitals.

The fringe-style festival starts May 9 and offers one-hour performances at a variety of times and locations. The festival is programmed so that shows won’t conflict with Stratford Festival matinees or evening performances.

Among the better known performers is actor-singer Chilina Kennedy who last year wrapped up three seasons of acclaimed performances at the Stratford Festival.

She’ll be presenting a cabaret show celebrating seven years of original folksong writing.

Highlighting some of the many shows, Smith mentioned other awarding-winning performers and performances.

Gabi Epstein, for instance, chosen as top cabaret act of 2012 by Times Square Chronicles, and Razzmatazz for Kids, an interactive children’s musical show, winner of an East Coast Music Award.

The Tank Range Project, which returns to the festival with a new show. And Judith, an adaptation from a novel, both speak of rural life.

“It’s one of the things we feel is an important part of the festival. So there’s a voice of regional people to be heard,” said Smith.

The Tank Range Project deals with the expropriation of orchard lands in Meaford for use as a tank range during the Second World War. Judith is a young woman who attempts to redeem her rural past by returning to the countryside to take up pig farming … in the Prairies.

Two dance shows are in the extensive lineup this time around, one from a returning company with a brand new performance and a performance from a new company.

“They are spectacular dancers,” said Smith.

Dinner and show packages at the Church Restaurant have been added with the featured show ONEymoon with award-winning performer Christel Bartelse.

It’s a show in which the character, seeking the perfect partner, marries herself.

“Not is she only a comedienne. She’s a tap dancing, singing, insanely energetic person,” said Smith.

A significant part of the festival is geared to youth, from the very young to teens of high school age and the programing of several works in progress allows audiences of all ages to experience and perhaps become motivated by the creative process.

That applies to not just to kids.

Actor Marion Adler, for example, will be presenting an adaptation of the novel Peter Pan entitled Forgiving Peter Pan that focuses on a mother’s view of the death of her flier son in the First World War.

“When these young men arrived at the front their life expectancy was 11 days. And they knew it,” said Adler, giving a hint of what’s to come.

“It’s going to be a journey.”

Several current and former Stratford Festival performers are included in the performances. Roy Lewis, for instance, will present his new play The Blue God with the help of several other professionals. Smith will herself be part of that.

Venues for the performances include Factory163, City Hall auditorium, Revel Caffe, The Church Restaurant and Stratford Perth Museum.

“Each year we get a little further along,” said Smith. “The community is supporting us in all kinds of different ways.”

Smith said some directors, performers and audiences have been returning year after year. There’s also lots of participation from schools in Perth and Huron counties.

The SpringWorks website includes a calendar of events giving details of show times and venues.

There are opportunities for volunteers both technical and otherwise and tickets can be ordered on line.

Tickets are $20 for general admission for adults and $10 for children under 12. Discounted package deals are available.


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