Archives: Canadian drama

James Reaney Memorial Lecture on October 16 in Stratford

Join us on Sunday, October 16 at 2:30 pm at The Stratford Public Library Auditorium in Stratford, Ontario, for a talk by composer Peter Denny at the second annual James Reaney Memorial Lecture. Denny, a long-time friend, will speak about his collaboration with James Reaney on Terrible Swift Sword, an experimental modern opera.

James Reaney presented Terrible Swift Sword in a 1991 workshop at the Blyth Festival. The story, set in the defeated South at the end of the American Civil War, parallels the story of King Saul and David. Like the story, the music is also layered, built around a community production of Handel’s oratorio Saul.

In his lecture, Peter Denny will talk about the creative elements behind the 1991 performance of Terrible Swift Sword. He will play recordings of some of the music, and read from the script and from the Biblical source.

The annual lecture is a project developed by The Stratford Public Library and Poetry Stratford, and features a talk by a person who is knowledgeable about the life and work of Stratford poet and playwright James Reaney and of writing in the Southwestern Ontario region, which is such a strong element in Reaney’s writing.

The Stratford Public Library is located at

19 St. Andrew Street,

Stratford, Ontario

N5A 1A2.

David Ferry: Winner of the 2011 Barbara Hamilton Award

Congratulations to actor David Ferry, who wrote to us earlier this month to share this good news:

June 7/11

I wanted to let you know that today I was honoured with the 2011 Barbara Hamilton Award for excellence in the performing arts. This is one of the five special Dora Mavor Moore awards presented annually at the announcement of the DORA nominations. I am thrilled to be selected by the jury for this honour and humbled to join the extraordinary group of past recipients, all of whom I know or knew and have worked with (as I did with Barbara Hamilton) a true sign of aging I think.

I have been blessed in the past with eight DORA nominations and have won DORAs for Best Actor, Best Director, and Lighting Design. And doubly fortunate, I was nominated again for Best Actor for my performance in “Blasted” last fall. My wife Kyra Harper was nominated as best actress for her fine work in “Vincent River,” which makes me more happy than does my own fortune.

And yesterday I was awarded the Best Actor in the inaugural Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards for “Blasted.” So thrice blessed.

Congratulations, David, and best wishes for continuing success in the years to come!

David Ferry was one of the original cast members of James Reaney’s The Donnellys Part I, Sticks and Stones, which was first performed at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, Ontario on November 24, 1973. Here are fellow actors Jerry Franken and David Ferry together in the poster from the Tarragon production.

Jerry Franken and David Ferry in The Donnellys

David Ferry and Jerry Franken, May 30, 2011 in Stratford, Ontario

David Ferry has also recently edited a collection of plays by James Reaney for Playwrights Canada Press: Reaney Days in the West Room: Plays of James Reaney. David’s book includes seven of James Reaney’s plays: The Killdeer, Names and Nicknames, Listen to the Wind, The St.Nicholas Hotel, Gyroscope, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, and Zamorna!

Port Dover students triumph in Sticks and Stones

Congratulations to Mrs. Val Smith and her Theatre Partnership class at the Port Dover Composite School on their very successful performance of Sticks and Stones in Port Dover on January 13th and 14th. Val Smith encouraged the cast by pointing out that this was “the most beautiful and most difficult text they had ever dealt with or would ever deal with in high school.”

Val Smith and the cast of Sticks and Stones, Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Port Dover

The students succeeded in both mastering the text and conveying the story to others. “This has been an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives,” says their teacher.

Program designed by Theatre Partnership students.

Sticks and Stones in Port Dover on January 13th and 14th

Students of Val Smith’s Theatre Partnership class at Port Dover Composite School will perform The Donnellys: Sticks and Stones on January 13 and 14 at 7 pm at the Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover. Tickets are $5 and can be bought at the door. For more about what promises to be a lively production, see Daniel Pearce’s story in the Simcoe Reformer.

Stratford Secondary School dedication on November 26

Stratford Central Secondary School’s new James C. Reaney Auditorium

Thank you all for coming to Friday night’s ceremony at Stratford Central Secondary School to dedicate its old auditorium, now the school’s drama centre, in honour of alumnus James Reaney.

The students gave a wonderful performance of Mimi Lights the Candle, a Christmas play James Reaney wrote for the school in 1943. As well as the carols in Mimi, students also sang “The Girls at Swift’s,” a song from King Whistle!, a play James Reaney wrote for the school’s centennial in 1979.

Special thanks to Stephanie Nescier for her excellent direction, and to Anne Swerdfager and the other members of the original 1979 cast of King Whistle! for singing along.

Thanks also to Ron Dodson for organizing this event, and to Lois Tarr, James Reaney’s classmate, for keeping her copy of Mimi Lights the Candle all these years. We know Dad would have been thrilled to be honoured in this way and to see you all enjoying his play.

For those of you who couldn’t be there, watch for news and interviews about the event on genienet.ca

November 26: The play was performed on the main floor and the audience was seated on the stage and around the performers. (Photo by Leith Peterson)

James Stewart Reaney (James Reaney’s son) and his wife Susan Wallace

James Stewart Reaney with Lois Tarr

Colleen Thibaudeau to talk about James Reaney on October 17 in Stratford

Join us on October 17 at 3 pm at The Stratford Public Library Auditorium in Stratford, Ontario, to hear poet Colleeen Thibaudeau speak at the first annual James Reaney Memorial Lecture.

Colleen Thibaudeau and James Reaney in Toronto, 1950

The annual lecture is a new project being developed by The Stratford Public Library and Poetry Stratford; it will feature a talk by a person who is knowledgeable about the life and work of Stratford poet and playwright James Reaney and of writing in the Southwestern Ontario region, which is such a strong element in Reaney’s writing.

Colleen Thibaudeau, Reaney’s widow and a poet and short story writer in her own right, was born in Toronto and raised in St. Thomas, Ontario. Educated at the University of Toronto, her M.A. thesis was on contemporary Canadian poetry. She married Reaney in 1951.?Her books include Lozenges: Poems in the Shapes of Things (1965), Ten Letters (1975), My Granddaughters Are Combing Out Their Long Hair (1977), The Martha Landscapes (1984), The Artemesia Book (1991) and The “Patricia” Album (1992).?Her involvement with all aspects of Canadian Literature has been long and deep. She has been associated with Canadian small presses and The League of Canadian Poets since the mid 1960s. Thibaudeau lives in London, Ontario.

 

 

James Reaney and Colleen Thibaudeau in Stratford, 1980. Photo by C.H. Gervais

The Stratford Public Library is located at

19 St. Andrew Street,

Stratford, Ontario

N5A 1A2.


One-Man Masque at Nuit Blanche tonight in Toronto

If you’re in Toronto tonight, there will be a special reading of James Reaney’s One-Man Masque as part of the Nuit Blanche performances at St. Thomas’ Church. Larry Beckwith, Artistic Director of Toronto Masque Theatre, sends this update:

I am writing with an update of information about my involvement in Saturday night’s Nuit Blanche performances at St. Thomas’ Church as part of the “Pillars of Fire” exhibit.

A number of artists and performers are showcasing their work from 6:57 pm on Saturday to sunrise the following morning. Muscians and TMT friends involved include Alison Melville’s “Bird Project” the Windermere String Quartet, Brass Conspiracy, Ashiq Aziz’ “Classical Music Consort”, the Larkin Singers and the Sonore Percussion Trio.

I will be giving a special reading of James Reaney’s One-Man Masque at approximately 12:30 am. (This performance has been moved up from the previously-announced 2:00 am slot!).

I hope to see you there!

Pillars of Fire

Saint Thomas’s Anglican Church

383 Huron Street

scotiabank nuit blanche

Oct 2, 2010: 6:57 pm to sunrise

Zone A Independent Project – Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Light emerges from darkness, as the mesmerizing beauty of fire allows us to transcend the night. See video, installation, performance and interactive artworks inspired by the transient and eternal nature of fire. Come celebrate your creative fire!

May 6 Arts Gala at Stratford Central Secondary

On May 6 in Stratford, Ontario, Stratford Central Secondary School welcomed poet and playwright James Reaney as the first inductee to the school’s Arts Hall of Fame. James Reaney went to high school there from 1939-1944.

Reaney’s family, including his sister Wilma McCaig and his brother Ron Cooke, attended the induction ceremony at Central last week. In honour of the occasion, students staged the opening scene of James Reaney’s play, Colours in the Dark. James Stewart Reaney (James Reaney’s son) gave thanks on behalf of the Reaney family. “This kind of recognition, I know, would have touched Dad deeply,” he said.

James Stewart Reaney and Rick Cooke with the bicycle from Colours in the Dark.

Reaney Days in May

Here are three Reaney events in May:

On May 6 in Stratford, Ontario, Stratford Central Secondary School will host an arts gala evening to launch the school’s new Arts Hall of Fame and celebrate its first inductee, James Crerar Reaney, who went to high school there over 60 years ago. Over the years, James Reaney maintained ties with the school and led workshops there for two of his plays, King Whistle and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

May 6, 7, and 8, in Strathroy, Ontario, Evelyn D’Oria and the students of Strathroy District Collegiate Institute will present James Reaney’s adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass. There will be three evening performances of the play starting at 7:00 pm, and a matinee on Saturday at 2:00 pm.

On May 25 in London, Ontario, the new edition of James Reaney’s A Suit of Nettles will be launched at the London Central Library, 7:00 pm. This long poem won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1958. The new edition, published by The Porcupine’s Quill, is charmingly illustrated with woodcuts by Jim Westergard.

May Flowers by Leith Peterson

Elizabeth Reaney visits the James Reaney Canadian Centre at Gujarat University

On April 6-7, Elizabeth Reaney, James Reaney’s granddaughter, visited the James Reaney Canadian Centre at Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, India. Elizabeth was able to see the Centre’s collection of Canadian literature donated by James Reaney in 1992, and meet some of the students who are using it in their studies.

Dr. Ranjana Harish, Director of the Centre, welcomed Elizabeth and assured her that the collection is  well maintained and a valuable resource for scholars and students studying Canadian literature. Elizabeth was pleased to see that the some of the books include her grandfather’s wry marginal comments.

James Reaney visited India in January 1996 and spoke at the Canadian Studies Conference at Kerala University in Trivandrum. He enjoyed a performance of his play, Wacousta, put on by students, and he also painted this watercolour of his visit to the beach near Trivandrum on the Indian Ocean.

© 2017 James Reaney