Mother’s Day is Just Around the Corner

Did you know it’s little under a month until Mother’s Day? If you haven’t started planning how to spend the day honouring this special woman in your life, SpringWorks is here to help!

Sunday May 12 is filled with wonderful programming just perfect for you to enjoy with your mother. With the musical offerings of Festival Gems II,  the explorations of motherhood in The Hush Baby and Forgiving Peter Pan, the look at ordinary women leading extraordinary lives in turn-of-the-century rural Ontario in I Was Born, and the romantic story of love and loss in Without Whom, there is sure to be something for everyone for enjoy.

SpringWorks is running a Contest to help make your Mother’s Day perfect.

The Grand Prize
2 Mother’s Day Passes*
$60 Gift Certificate to Let Them Eat Cake
*admittance to all mainstage SpringWorks performances, Sunday May 12

Two Runner Up Prizes
2 Tickets Each to The Hush Baby

Entering this exciting contest is easy! Simply post on SpringWorks’ Facebook page 150-200 words telling us a favourite story about your mother or being a mother. If you’re not the Facebook type, comment your entry on our blog. All entries will be put in a draw and the winners will be selected in time for our next newsletter. We look forward to hearing your stories!

Festival Gems II is a potpourri of text and song celebrating original works created for the Stratford

Shakespeare Festival over its illustrious history. This collection features material crafted by great composers and authors from Canada, the United States and Great Britain. Featuring past and present company members Marion Day, Christina Gordon, Brad Rudy, Alan Laing, and Eileen Smith.

A Bit About the Performers

Marion DayMarion Day is a veteran of the Stratford Festival and is always delighted to be performing original material from the Festival’s archives. This summer, Marion can be found at the Blyth Festival.

Christina Gordon
 Christina Gordon has enjoyed 7 non-consecutive seasons with the Stratford Festival and has combined her early dance training with her voice diploma to create a  wonderful Musical Theatre career.

Brad RudyBrad Rudy is in his 23rd season at the Stratford Festival and can be seen this season in as Samson in Romeo and Juliet and Constable in Fiddler on the Roof.

Eileen Smith

Eileen Smith has performed at the Banff, Charlottetown, Sunshine,  Showboat,  and Stratford Festivals, as well as with Drayton Entertainment, The Grand Theatre in London, and over 40 years with The Canadian Opera Company.

Alan Laing

Alan Laing has spent some 40 years in Canadian theatre, music-directing and composing. He has written for CBC television, most of Shakespeare’s plays at the Stratford Festival, and at most major theatres in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Washington.
In an exclusive interview, Eileen Smith and Christina Gordon talk about re-discovering the music and the joys of being a mother and a daughter.
SWF: With little under a month until SpringWorks starts, you must be well into rehearsals. Have there been any particular moments of joy or brilliant discoveries or even a really funny moment you’d like to share?

EILEEN: Making music together, singing these harmonies, this beautiful, beautiful music
and speaking wonderful text is just pure joy. And we laugh a lot when we can’t remember who’s on first and what’s on second, sipping beverages in my living room around the grand piano. It’s pretty swell.
CHRISTINA: Gems II hasn’t been performed in over 5 years (some of us say 6) and rooting around in our brains for vocal lines has been fun. The main moment of joy is us all being in the same room at the same time and hearing the music resonate once more. Eileen, Alan, Brad, Marion & I are having a great time so far. We each have a tricky piece that takes utmost concentration – I call mine ‘my straight jacket’ piece because I have to rock my whole body to keep in rhythm, so I look a little crazy.

SWF: Since Festival Gems II is a collection of commissioned works for the Stratford Festival and your entire cast is current and former Stratford actors, did any members of your cast perform in the debut performances of any of these pieces? If so, which?

EILEEN: This set of wonderful people are the original performers of this collection. I spent three months in the Stratford Festival archives researching repertoire before we created Festival Gems I & II. Alan Laing did a tremendous amount of research and arranging. This ensemble then brought this marvelous material to life together.

CHRISTINA: Alan Laing wrote about a quarter of the songs and so has an inside knowledge of his pieces. Eileen would know more which songs were done by whom. I personally don’t sing anything that I was in – being more of a musical theatre performer. When we have performed the piece in the past, many audience members come forward: “I say that production in 1987,” etc.

SWF: Do you have a best or favourite or funny moment you had with your mother or as a mother?

EILEEN: I have three utterly fabulous daughters who make me tremendously proud, make me laugh, and make me thankful for all of the joy they bring me.

CHRISTINA: My Mother is leaning over my shoulder right now, eating an apple, and asking me what I’m doing. Funny moment with my Mother – so many. She’s a bit of a Malaprop/word twix queen – she once said, ‘I have a hard time understanding him, I think he has a peech inspediment.’ She is a costume designer & maker for community theatres and will be doing her last show (so she says) next year- Sound of Music – she will be 79. I love watching her trying to keep up with her four great granddaughters.

Tickets for Festival Gems II are available here or through our Call Centre: 1-888-559-5077.

By Dawna Joy Wightman
Sunday May 12, 12 p.m. Stratford City Hall Auditorium
Tuesday May 14, 6 p.m. & Wednesday May 15, 8 p.m Factory163

The Hush Baby

1 baby. 2 many regrets. 3 robin eggs by sunset or else…a new play about magic, mothering, and loss.

Directed by Winnie W. Wong, The Hush Baby blends modern technology with an ancient Eastern fairy tale; a dash of real life stories coaxed into fantasy. Elena has no idea what path she’ll take when a strange, nameless girl makes an ominous deal with her. Stories of four magical women entwine to romance us to a place we have never been. A healing journey for every person who has ignored feeling their own hidden losses.

A Bit About Dawna
Dawna J. Wightman is a playwright/novelist and actor. Born near Montreal, she moved to Toronto in 2008. She has studied playwriting at Queen’s University under Professor John Lazarus. Her play Life as a Pomegranate recently returned from the International Mid Winter Madness Short Play Festival in NYC. As an actor, Dawna studied at John Abbot College in Quebec, then at Queen’s University. She has acted with various theatre companies including Bard on the Beach, YouTheatre, Geordie Productions, Double Take Productions and the Guild Festival Theatre.

Director Winnie W. Wong discusses rehearsals, the impact of technology on the story, and a magical moment she shared with her mother.

SWF: With little under a month until SpringWorks starts, you must be well into rehearsals. Have there been any particular moments of joy or brilliant discoveries or even a really funny moment you’d like to share?

WINNIE: We’re in the “second trimester” of “The Hush Baby” and rehearsals are a magical time for us.  I can’t pinpoint one particular moment or discovery but I can say that the words of Dawna J. Wightman are lifting from the pages and coming to life.  The story’s pulse is getting stronger and louder with the characters solidifying their souls and their relationships with one another. Simply beautiful.

SWF:  This play is written to have a play in front and a play behind; a story on stage and a story backstage being projected via live feed. What is the wider significance of this seriously cool idea and how does it enhance both stories?

WINNIE: “The Hush Baby’s” live feed invites the audience to another dimension in Mary Ellen’s complex imagination.  This is exciting, for me, because it enhances certain story-beats by providing an organic “live commentary”.  We talk about when the 4th wall comes down; this would be like bringing down the 5th wall.

SWF: Do you have a best, favourite, or funny moment you have had with your mother or as a mother?

WINNIE: I remember when my Mom and I took our first trip together to London, England.  This was the first time my Mom had ever been in London so we decided to go to a local English pub.  We were pondering the chalkboard menu above the barkeep’s head when my Mom asked me: “Winnie, do they have diet coke at pubs?”  I thought to myself: “Wow, that’s a silly question, of course they do.”  And in the same inner-voice breath, I realized, my Mom had me when she was 22 years old and she never got a chance to go to a pub and “kick it up a notch”.  My eyes welled up – my Mom was sharing her first pub experience with me.

Tickets for The Hush Baby are available here or through our Call Centre: 1-888-559-5077.

Adapted and Performed by Marion Adler
Sunday May 12, 2 p.m. @ Stratford City Hall Auditorium
Tuesday May 14, 8 p.m. @ Factory163

Forgiving Peter Pan, the latest adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s haunting novel by Marion Adler and directed by Scott Wentworth, returns to SpringWorks this season. In the aftermath of the First World War a bereaved mother returns to her children’s abandoned nursery and through her retelling of their favourite bedtime story comes to terms with her deepest loss.

A Bit About Marion
Marion Adler is an award-winning lyricist, poet, singer, and actress. Her works has been heard across the United States, Canada, and Europe. She was a member of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival acting company for five seasons. Her musicals Enter the Guardsmen (Olivier Award nomination for Best New Musical) and Gunmetal Blues, written with husband Scott Wentworth and composer Craig Bohmler, have had performances in the West End and Off Broadway. Marion also teaches improv and can sometimes be found at the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival.Tickets for Forgiving Peter Pan are available here or through our Call Centre: 1-888-559-5077.

Written & Directed by R. J. Downes
Friday May 10, 12 p.m., Saturday May 11, 6 p.m. & Sunday May 12, 4 p.m
Stratford City Hall Auditorium

Based, in part, on the lives of Ray and Marguerite Bradbury (1922-2003), Without Whom is a funny and bittersweet play about love, loss, and the inability to let go of those we hold close to our hearts…even in death. What happens when we leave this life?  Does the world really go on without us?  What if we could make death wait…even if only for a little while?  What would you say to that one important person in your life – given the chance?

Ray and Maggie were married for forty years.  They spent those forty years, bickering and fighting, loving and sometimes hating.  Now that one of them has passed on how will the other go on alone?  More importantly however, which one of them actually died?

A Bit About R.J. 
R.J. Downes has been a playwright, producer, stage manager and director for over 20 years. As a playwright, his works have been performed all across the GTA and beyond. As a producer, director and stage manager he has worked with a wide and eclectic range of production companies in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

We asked R.J. about how rehearsals are going, the influence of Ray Bradbury’s penchant for science fiction on Without Whom, and his favourite moment with his mother.

SWF: With little under a month until SpringWorks starts, you must be well into rehearsals. Have there been any particular moments of joy or brilliant discoveries or even a really funny moment you’d like to share?

R.J:  I think we have two lead actors that might not have ever expected they would be paired together as husband and wife in a show but I think that’s what makes them so interesting on stage together. They have a fascinating relationship in the show but I don’t think I’ve ever met two actors so different from each other. They are both funny and fascinating to watch together.

SWF: Without Whom deals with concepts of the trans-dimensional, this world and next world. As Ray Bradbury, whose life and death influenced the writing of your play, was a sci-fi writer, was a slightly sci-fi concept something you were interested in exploring in Without Whom or was that a happy accident?

R.J: The sci-fi aspect of the play was there from the beginning. The whole idea for the play came from a write up by Sam Weller on the Ray Bradbury website about the passing away of Ray’s wife. (This was back in 2006 before Ray himself passed away.) There was an image of Maggie Bradbury talking, laughing and smoking a cigarette in the write up and the image stuck with me. Who was this woman? What sort of life did she live? What was the relationship between the two of them? What would they say to each other now given the chance?  As I sat down to write, Maggie started talking, telling her story and debating the fact that she had died at all. She stated, in fact, that it was Ray that had died instead. The life and death debate became the basis of the play. The love story I found in the writing became the backbone and the rest of the play came from there.

SWF: Do you have a best or favourite or funny moment you have had with your mother?

R.J: I don’t know if I can think of a specific moment with my mom off the top of my head but I can think of two things that relate to the play. The first thing is something that my mom said to my sister and I throughout our childhood. She always told us, “Do the thing in life you want to do and don’t let anyone, even me, tell you you can’t do it.” This has a lot to do with why I became a writer. The second thing is a line in the play that comes directly from my mother. During an argument she once said to me, “You’re the one who’s arguing, I’m simply showing you what you’re doing wrong.” It’s in the play and makes me laugh whenever I hear it.

Tickets for Without Whom are available here or through our Call Centre: 1-888-559-5077.

Written & Performed by Peggy Coffey
Saturday May 11, 2 p.m. & Sunday May 12, 2 p.m. 
Stratford Perth Museum

Photo by Ann BaggleyOrdinary women living extraordinary lives in rural Ontario at the turn of the century. I Was Born is based on stories collected and published by the Women’s Institute in a book called From This Place, a project initiated by Pat Salter of the WI.

Masks, created by Heather Ruthig, and storytelling combine to share these exceptional stories of women who lived through some of the most dramatic changes of any generation.
It premiered January 27, 2013 at The Stratford Perth Museum, drawing a sold out crowd, with audience members hailing it as giving ‘voice to an entire generation, whose perspective stands in illuminating contrast to our crowded, chaotic, and ever shrinking world’ and as ‘a magical, immediate, exhilarating experience of the past (achieved) with simplicity and grace.’

A Bit About Peggy
Peggy Coffey has worked in Canadian theatre for over 30 years as a leading actress, movement artist, director, producer and educator. A Stratford Shakespeare Festival veteran actor, selected roles include: Cressida – Troilus and Cressida; Hermia – A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Julia – Two Gentleman of Verona; Shrew – Shakespeare’s Universe. She is a founding member of Alternative Theatre Works, which has produced two acclaimed productions in Stratford: Falling: A Wake by Gary Kirkham and Bolsheviki by David Fennario. Last fall, Peggy was seen in The Yalta Game and Afterplay, two of the Chekov shorts in Alternative Theatre Works’ production Three Plays After. She also directed The Bear, the third piece in the triad. Peggy is a recipient of two
Guthrie awards, through the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

In an interview from Peterborough, Ontario, Peggy talks about gearing up for I Was Born, the power and impact of masks, and her mother’s influence on the piece.

SWF: With little under a month until SpringWorks starts, you must be well into rehearsals. Have there been any particular moments of joy or brilliant discoveries or even a really funny moment?

PEGGY: I am currently doing a show with New Stages in Peterborough, and it is intense to say the least. It is a play called Falling: A Wake and it takes everything I have, so my serious work on my one woman show will will begin next week when I return. The show is all set to go, I just need to go into a good week of rehearsal to prep for the museum’s SpringWorks performances. I love performing “I Was Born” because the masks and stories are in the lead, and I feel like a conduit, just letting these wonderful stories filter through me, the story teller. The show belongs to these wonderful woman who tell their stories, I am simply sharing them, in a very honest way.

SWF: Masks are a large part of this play. Does the specificity required of mask work change the way you rehearse and prepare for your performance?

PEGGY: The masks, 4 in total where designed and built by the extremely talented Heather Ruthig. Heather is an artist at the Stratford Festival, and part of the Off the Wall team. We have been working together for quite some time now on the masks. They are so powerful and they have become an integral part of the show. I see them as a Greek chorus, they are placed on the ‘set’ and have a power all on their own. One by one, I pick them up, put them on, and let them speak. Masks are at the very heart of theatre. I think the audience enjoys the stories more, when the masks are on. It takes me out of the equation, and they can really focus on the words.

SWF: Do you have a best or favourite or funny moment you have had with your mother?

PEGGY: My mother was a huge inspiration to me during the writing of this piece. I really am doing it for her and for her generation of amazing woman. I feel I am the link to her past, and her mothers/ past and I want young people to hear these stories. Our world is so different, yet it happened so quickly. I am blessed to have a beautiful mother who is kind, generous, funny, open minded and spirited. I love to see and hear her laugh!! Tears will roll down her face when she gets tickled by something. We enjoy a good game of scrabble together and sharing stories about the grandchildren. I wish she lived here in Stratford with me, but she has her own roots and home in Bradford, so I have to just get myself up there as much as I can. She is 80 now, and I treasure every moment I have with her. She is coming to the show!!! So I can introduce her.

Tickets for I Was Born are available here or through our Call Centre: 1-888-559-5077.

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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