Happy Earth Day from SpringWorks


It’s Earth Day – the day to love our planet, our community, and our home. With the weather getting warmer every day, we can start to shed our winter layers and take the bikes out for a spin, get our paddles in the water again, or simply take a walk and look forward to the wonderful local produce that will soon be finding its’ way to our tables.

We at SpringWorks LOVE the spring. There is so much coming up over the next few weeks, you won’t want to miss a beat.Today, in honour of Earth Day, SpringWorks is taking a closer look at some of the amazing Canadian stories that you’ll find on the stage this SpringWorks 2013.

SpringWorks is extending our Mother’s Day Contest!

The Grand Prize
2 Mother’s Day Passes*
$60 Gift Certificate to Let Them Eat Cake
*admittance to all mainstage SpringWorks performances, Sunday May 12Two Runner Up Prizes
2 Tickets Each to The Hush Baby
So, you still have time to get your entry in! Simply post a good story about your Mother on our Facebook page or comment your entry on our blog. We look forward to hearing your stories!Over the next few weeks, SpringWorks is going to start running Blitz Contests – 24 hours from posting to winner. You never know when they’ll strike or what show you could win tickets for, so keep your eyes on our Facebook page for these exciting announcements!

After the success of his 2012 production The Hours That Remain, Keith Barker returns to SpringWorks with his latest work This is How We Got to Here: Paul and Lucille’s son Craig lost his battle with depression six months ago.  As they try to find meaning in his death, Paul and Lucille struggle with the guilt of not being able to help their son, but also with the impossible idea moving on.

A Bit About Keith
Keith is a Métis artist from Northwestern Ontario.  A graduate of the George Brown Theatre School, he is the former Artistic Associate and was the 2011/12 Writer-In-Residence at Native Earth Performing Arts.  He has been a company member of the Nearly World Famous Dufflebag Theatre for 9 years.  Theatre credits include Tombs of the Vanishing Indian (Native Earth), Homegrown with AlunaTheatre (Summerworks), The Making of St Jerome (Next Stage Festival), Job’s Wife (New Harlem Productions)Death of a Chief (Native Earth/National Arts Centre)Autoshow (Convergence Theatre) and the Real Real Adventures of Scott Free  and Will Do (Shrimp Magnet Theatre). His first full length play The Hours That Remain was first performed in 2012. He has been the official photographer for The Worldwide Short Film Festival (2006) HotDocs Festival (2005) and Tournament of Wonders (2005, 2006, 2008)  He performed in the Singapore International Theatre Festival in 2006, and had the pleasure of being a guest director for the fall theatre program at Seoul Foreign School.

Based on the Book By Aritha Van Herk
Adapted for the Stage and Directed by Heather Davies
Music and Lyrics by Murray Foster
Friday May 10 @ 6:00 pm @ Stratford City Hall Auditorium
Friday May 17 @ 12:00 pm @ Factory163

This adaptation is a brawling, passionate play about hope, fears and courage, with many pigs and live music by Murray Foster of Moxy Fruvous and Great Big Sea fame.

Born on a farm, Judith was proud, fierce and independent when she went to the city to make something of herself. But things went wrong. And so, alone and defiant, she returns to her roots. Slowly, things begin to happen, but can she make it on her own? An exquisite piece of ensemble theatre with puppetry. Suitable for ages 16 and up.

The cast for Judith continues to grow, but to date includes Phi Bulani, Stephen Gartner, Eli Ham, and Kelly McIntosh.

A Bit About Heather
Heather was born on the prairies in Winnipeg, Manitoba and grew up in Toronto, Ontario. She’s trained as a dancer, singer, actor, and musician and has worked professionally since her teens. Heather holds a BFA-Theatre from Ryerson, an MFA in Theatre from York, and Masters-Level Classical Acting Training from The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art (London, UK). She worked in the UK theatre for 18 years, moving back to Canada in 2007 to attend York University. Since 2003, Heather has been making the transition from performing to directing, starting with a three year stint at the Royal Shakespeare Company. From September 2009 to February 2011, Heather was the Artistic Associate at The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, with highlights including Footloose and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

By Jamie Robinson and Roger Shank
Friday May 10 @ 8:00 pm Stratford City Hall Auditorium
Tuesday May 14 @ 2:00 pm @ Factory163

A Canadian Sacrifice of Home: In 1942, The Government of Canada forced 100 families off of 17000 acres of farmland in the St. Vincent Township of Southwestern Ontario, to be used as an Armored Vehicle Fighting area to train soldiers for the war effort overseas. Based on real events, The Tank Range Project is a play that explores this history by dramatically contrasting the importance of those farmers’ original sacrifices, to the land’s use for the military conflict in Afghanistan today.

In 2010, The Tank Range Project received a Tyrone Guthrie Award for new play development and it was presented as a fully realized workshop at last year’s SpringWorks, where it garnered much community support and admiration.

Produced by The Grey-Bruce Arts Collective, this year’s cast includes Stratford’s own Eli Ham and Roger Shank, along side Mackenzie Muldoon, Ryan Boyko, Sophia Kolinas, Wilex Ly, Holly McCourt, and Brett Brownlee.

A Bit About Jamie and Roger
Jamie is a Co-Director of The Grey-Bruce Arts Collective and has been an actor of stage and screen for over 10 years. He holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Concordia University and is  also a graduate of The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Training.

Roger is a Co-Director of The Grey-Bruce Arts Collective and has 20 years of experience as an actor, including The Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. He has also worked professionally as a director and teacher in theatre, film, and television.

Jamie Robinson opens up about what it means to be a Canadian playwright, the impact of last year’s visit to SpringWorks, and advice on living green.

SWF: Do you, as a theatre creator, feel more drawn to tell stories with an intrinsic Canadian-ness? Do you think being Canadian influences how and what you create?

JAMIE: Canadian-ness is integral to our approach because we are firm believers in creating and preserving stories that resonate with audiences by making characters and locations legendary in their own right. With The Tank Range Project, the Earth itself, our own Canadian soil, comes to life as a place of realistic mysticism where military training grounds conflict with farmers’ legitimate ownership, each side presenting convincing truths about why our dirt is integral to every aspect of life. Being Canadian obviously enhances this belief as we strive to give an entertaining representation of what life was and still is for rural residents trying to make an honest living in this heavily bureaucratic nation.

SWF: The Tank Range Project is returning to SpringWorks for a second year. Has the script and/or the staging undergone much in the way of renovations?

JAMIE: The Tank Range Project benefited tremendously from having a spot in last years SpringWorks. The story is the same, but the dialogue and staging in the script has been cleaned up to allow actors a simpler, yet more precise telling of this mystical historical fiction. Last year we only had 5 days to rehearse while also working another show in rep. This year we have double the rehearsals on its own and have had more time to work on the actual show instead of on re-writes and dramaturgical adjustments.

SWF: This being Earth Day, do you have a favourite green-living tip?

JAMIE: Green-living is best seen in practice by visiting your nearest farm. Watch how they care for and recycle every inch of their land. It is their livelihood to preserve the Earth, so we should all respect the centuries of efforts they have made in maintaining green-living.

By Heather Debling
Directed by Gada Jane
1917. The Western Front. New recruit Billy Haven arrives eager to kill his first Hun. Instead, he’s ordered to put on a dress and sing. Suddenly one of The Maple Leaves, a group of men who perform for the troops to boost morale, Billy must determine where his duty truly lies while all around him the other men grapple with their internal demons and traumatic memories of the front. The Maple Leaves offers audiences a glimpse into this little known side of Canadian military life. Based on the real-life experiences of groups like The Dumbells, The Maple Leafs, and The Y Emmas, the play juxtaposes the horrors of trench warfare with exuberant performance numbers of WWI favourites such as “Your King and Country Want You,” “If You Were the Only Girl in the World,” and “Mademoiselle from Armentieres.” Featuring Mischa Aravena, Chris Coculuzzi, Scott Garland, Devin Herbert, and Daniel Roberts.
Audience Advisory: Coarse language. For more information, visit StillWaters Productions.
Heather is a playwright and fiction writer based in Stratford, Ontario. She has studied with Vern Thiessen and was a participant in Brad Fraser’s Finding Fresh Voices workshop. Her first play, Munro and Son, had a featured reading at Pat the Dog Playwright Centre in 2009. Her second play, The Maple Leaves, was part of the piece/meal reading series at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in 2010 and received an honourable mention in the 2011 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition. She is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Predella Project.
Gada is a film and theatre director who specializes in new work and first productions. She is currently in post-production for the short film John Orpheus is Dead, which she wrote and directed. Prior to that, she served as Artistic Associate for Pat the Dog Playwright Centre, where she worked as a dramaturge. She also created and facilitated the Predella Project, a focused team of writers designed to build the capacity of each member. She holds a M.A. in drama from the University of Guelph and brings a strong visual and narrative capacity to her work as a director.
Heather Davies talks about the Canadian identity, the inspiration behind The Maple Leaves, and how she likes to keep it green.

SWF: Do you, as a theatre creator, feel more drawn to tell stories with an intrinsic Canadian-ness? Do you think being Canadian influences how and what you create?

HEATHER: While I don’t  consciously set out to tell strictly Canadian stories in my work, I absolutely feel that who I am, where I live, and the Canadian values I’m most proud of influence what I create. I also read a lot of Canadian fiction and see a lot of new Canadian plays, and being exposed to what other Canadian artists are working on definitely has an influence on my work. One of the main themes that I keep returning to in my work is questions of duty and what we individually and as a society owe to other people. Those kinds of issues do seem intrinsically Canadian. One of the first things I learned in high school about WWI – and Vimy in particular – is how important it was in creating a Canadian national identity, so of anything I’ve written, The Maple Leaves does seem the most Canadian. I think there’s important stories about our past to share in our theatre and our literature, and I just hope this play does justice to the men who performed with these WWI concert party groups.

SWF: This play tells the story of a lesser known part of the history of WWI. How did you discover this story and what compelled you to write a play about it?

HEATHER: One of the reasons I’m really excited to be presenting the play at SpringWorks is because I came across the idea for the play at the Stratford Public Library. It was a photograph in Theatre at War 1914-1918 by L.J. Collins that caught my attention. It shows a soldier sitting on a crate with a painted maple leaf on its side – but he isn’t in uniform. He is wearing a dress, sheer stockings and high-heeled shoes, and the photographer has captured him carefully applying his lipstick. An officer kneels in front of that first soldier holding his wig; another man stands in the background, also in female costume. I knew quite a bit about the First World War by the time I came across that image, but I’d never heard of The Dumbells, The Y Emmas, The Maple Leafs or any of the other concert party groups that performed shows to entertain their comrades and boost morale. I had difficultly at first reconciling what I knew about WWI with this image. As I continued my research into these groups and began developing the characters, I found that it spoke to many of the themes that I’m interested in as a writer and which I think are still relevant today, things such as duty, sacrifice, survival and the necessity of art in times of war and crisis. I was also intrigued by how these men staged their shows. Sets and costumes for early shows were often improvised, with footlights fashioned out of candles and biscuit tins and wigs made out of rope or horsehair. We’re trying to embrace a similar concept for our presentation at SpringWorks with our amazing cast of actors using props, make-up and costumes to evoke the period and also the world of female impersonation. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, it seems an important time to reflect on that period and to share some of these lesser known stories about WWI.

SWF: This being Earth Day, what is your favourite green-living tip?

HEATHER: One of the things I love most about living in Stratford is that it’s so easy to walk most places. Growing up in Mississauga, it was a car-centred lifestyle with people in the suburbs driving pretty much everywhere – even to the local convenience store. I love being part of a community where things are so much more accessible on foot, so I can use my car less.


 Did you know that it’s now easier than ever to get to Stratford and SpringWorks? The Stratford Festival Bus (Toronto to Stratford) is now available! For just $10 one way or $20 return, come down, stay for a few days, explore all this region has to offer and then head back. Go here for details.

SpringWorks can always use more volunteers! If indie theatre is your passion and you’re interested in getting involved, go here for more information and to fill out our Volunteer Application Form!


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