What’s Happening at The Blyth Festival in 2017

Written on November 25th, 2016

Blyth Festival

In announcing the shows of the 2017 summer season at the Blyth Festival, Gil Garratt, Artistic Director, says “On the heels of our wildly successful 2016 season, we are continuing to push boundaries, break rules, and blow our own horn to celebrate this incomparable country. And this year the ribbon will be cut on our $3.8 million newly renovated and ready to go Memorial Hall.”

June 28 to August 19 | WORLD PREMIERE
MR. NEW YEAR’S EVE: A Night with Guy Lombardo
BY DAVID SCOTT
For forty-eight consecutive years Guy Lombardo was North America’s “Mr. New Year’s Eve”, bandleader of the biggest holiday broadcast on the continent. Together with his band “The Royal Canadians,” Lombardo sold more than 300 million records internationally. To this day, they still play his recording of Auld Lang Syne as the official ball drops on the annual festivities in New York’s Times Square.
A son of Italian immigrants, Guy was born and raised in London, Ontario, but it was his summers playing the biggest beach bandstand in Huron County’s Grand Bend, where this local musical titan cut his teeth and learned to play both his many instruments and the teeming crowds.
Though his own father adamantly opposed Guy’s love of Jazz, and Canadian radio stations showed active disinterest, Guy’s dedication to his craft was all consuming, and no obstacle could block his path to his dreams. Friend and influential colleague of some of the biggest names in show biz, including Louis Armstrong, Sophie Tucker, the Andrew Sisters, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, and others, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians blazed a path from Huron County to the Big Apple the likes of which has never been seen, before or since.
July 5 to August 19
THE BERLIN BLUES
BY DREW HAYDEN TAYLOR
Two German developers arrive unannounced on the sleepy, fictional Otter Lake reserve.They have with them international investors, $164 million dollars, and blueprints for a “Native Theme Park”, complete with bumper canoes, an international longhouse of pancakes, and a giant laser dream catcher. What ensues is a hilarious, laugh-a-minute riot, as some members of the community try to shut down the development, while others leap in with both feet. Full of absurd gags and indelible, larger-than-life characters, The Berlin Blues is a slap down drag’em out cultural appropriation comedy of the highest (and lowest) order.
August 9 to September 23 | WORLD PREMIERE
THE PIGEON KING
BY THE COMPANY
When Arlan Galbraith created his company, Pigeon King International, he boasted some fifty-years as a top breeder; he was a prominent member of the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union, the Canadian National Tippler Union, the National Birmingham Roller Club, and even the charter President of the Saugeen Valley Fur and Feathers Fanciers Association. When he announced he’d even bred his own distinct prize winning line of racers, Strathclyde Genetics, few of his friends doubted his downy coronation.
But around 2001, Galbraith began approaching local farmers and neighbours asking them to invest in a piece of the royal action. Claiming to have access to lucrative pigeon racing markets in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East, the Pigeon King began to sign ten year contracts with guaranteed profits for buyers of his breeding pairs, promising to personally buy back all of the chicks.
Over the next seven years, Pigeon King International became a massive empire, worth tens of millions of dollars, with farmers investing from both sides of the border, mortgaging century farms, and hatching hundreds of thousands of birds, only to collapse in a bankruptcy filing of epic proportions. Finally convicted of fraud in a Waterloo Court, Arlan Galbraith was sentenced to seven years, for his preposterous Pigeon Ponzi scheme.
The Pigeon King is a country parable for our times, reminding us that what takes flight, always comes home to roost.

August 16 to September 16 | WORLD PREMIERE
IPPERWASH
BY FALEN JOHNSON & JESSICA CARMICHAEL
The Blyth Centre for the Arts sits today on land surrendered through Treaty 29, the Huron Tract, part of the traditional territories of the People of Kettle and Stony Point.
In 1942, the Government of Canada used the War Measures Act to expropriate a 2400 acre tract of land from the Stony Point First Nation; dispossessed families who lost their homes were moved onto neighbouring Kettle Point, while they waited anxiously for armistice. The Feds promised to return the land when the war was over.
In 1995, after 50 years of waiting, of protests, of unproductive legal appeals and demands, one infamous demonstration turned bloody, and 48 year old Dudley George was shot and killed by OPP officer Ken Deane.  This was known as the Ipperwash Crisis… and it continues to reverberate coast to coast to coast.  Now, more than 20 years since Dudley’s death, the land he died protesting for is being returned; On April 14, 2016, a settlement was ratified finally returning what remains of the land that formed Camp Ipperwash.
Ipperwash is a play about the ever difficult path to change, the need for wholeness in healing, and a complex country’s hunger for hope.

As Garratt concludes “Come take your brand spanking new seat, and join the thousands of adventurers who come ready to see some of the finest, boldest, most brilliant theatre in the land. 43 years and running. Always relevant, always real. This is Blyth.”  Passes are now on sale for the 2017 season. Call the Box Office at 519.523.9300, Toll Free 1.877.862.5984 or online at blythfestival.com. Buy before December 24 and save up to 31% over the price of single tickets.

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