Blyth Festival returns once again to present its 2022 season outdoors on the beautiful new Harvest Stage. Four Canadian productions will run in succession from June to September.
Gil Garratt says of the season, “I think theatre has never been more important, more vital. Looking around at the world right now, a lot of people are feeling isolated and alone, misunderstood, lost. And this is exactly what live theatre cures. This is the moment to come together, to sit together and listen, to gather as safely as we can and tell stories that change us, that grow us, that help us know each other better and care about each other more. When we built the Harvest Stage I told people that it might look like a theatre, but it’s actually a community building machine. And we really need it now. The 2022 season is a heartfelt reminder of where we’ve been, how we got here, and why it matters, as a Festival, as a community, and as a country.”
The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey June 22-July 16
The Drawer Boy tells a fictionalized version of the story that became The Farm Show. A young actor from the city (named Miles), arrives at a farmhouse and explains that he has been sent to volunteer, observe, and gather stories for a play he is creating with a group of artists staying in the community. The two aging farmers who live in the house, Angus and Morgan, reluctantly let the intrepid Miles stay with them, in exchange for ‘hands on’ farm training. What ensues is a hilarious, touching, and transformative story about the power of art and storytelling to change lives and build community. Originally commissioned by Blyth Festival, the play premiered in 1999 at Theatre Passe Muraille, (and played in Blyth the following summer).
This play is dedicated to the life and legacy of David Fox (1941-2021), and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the original The Farm Show. David Fox won a Dora Award for his portrayal of Angus, and the play went on to be produced across Canada and internationally in hundreds of productions. Time magazine named The Drawer Boy one of the 10 best plays of 2001. This production is sponsored in part by Foxton Fuels Ltd.
Cottagers and Indians by Drew Hayden Taylor July 21 – August 6
One of the biggest comedies produced in Canada in the last five years, Drew Hayden Taylor’s Cottagers and Indians is a witty, poignant, and thoughtful two hander, examining some of the country’s most relevant hot button issues, in a way that welcomes everyone to the table. Inspired by the very public fight over the planting of wild rice in the Kawartha Lakes region, the play follows Indigenous farmer, Arthur Copper, who has taken it upon himself to repopulate the nearby waterways with wild rice. Maureen Poole, a local cottager who has been summering these shores with her family for decades feels the plant interferes with boating, fishing, swimming, and is generally an eyesore that brings down the property values of her cottage and those of her neighbours. Throw in a bbq, some Buddhism, a little sabotage, a team of lawyers, and a risk adverse Band Council and you have the makings for a powerful, hilarious, and relatable collision between environmentalism and consumerism, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Originally premiering at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in 2018, the play started an incredible trajectory pre-pandemic, and in a short time was produced on stages from North Rustico, PEI to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, to Miramichi, to Ottawa, to Saskatoon, to Victoria BC.
The Waltz by Marie Beath Badian **Premiere August 11 – August 27
In Partnership with The Factory Theatre
A tender coming of age romance by long time Festival playwright, Marie Beath Badian. Blyth commissioned this piece as the second work in Marie Beath’s Prairie Nurse trilogy. It’s 1993 Romeo Alvarez, is on his way to university, driving his hatchback from his home in Scarborough, ON, to Vancouver, BC. Having been guilted by his mom into stopping to visit family, Romeo pulls off the TransCanada and pulls into Arborville, Saskatchewan (where she first landed from the Philippines as a nurse some twenty years ago). As he sets about fulfilling his awkward family duty knocking on doors of relatives he’s never met, he discovers Bea, a girl his age whose history is woven to his own, though neither knows it. Set entirely on one accidentally romantic evening on the Canadian prairies, this play starts as a random encounter, and ends with a dance under a fateful moon. This production is sponsored by Orr Insurance & Investments and Biax International Ltd.
John Ware Reimagined by Cheryl Foggo September 1 – 24
With original country folk music by Miranda Martini and Kris Demeanor. Growing up in Alberta, Joni fell in love with everything rodeo, and by the age of seven was a devout attendee of the Calgary Stampede. She loved everything about it, from the horses, to the midway, to the joy of walking around all day with a cowboy hat on in a happy sea of 10 gallon brims. But from early on she was very aware that few of the trick riders in the ring, or the cowboys on TV looked like her. That is until she found the story of John Ware. While legend would paint John Ware as Alberta’s only Black cowboy, strong enough to pull a wagon out of the mud with his bare hands, or swimming to pull a drowning team of horses out of a flooding river, it wouldn’t take long for Joni to crack the legend wide open, and uncover not only the deeper, true history of John Ware and his family, but the forgotten, erased, and amazing history of Black pioneers in Canada’s west. Punctuated by driving folk tunes, and beautiful country ballads, Cheryl Foggo’s John Ware Reimagined is a loving reminder that a fanciful legend is rarely as valuable as a genuine history. This production is sponsored by Carlyle Peterson LLP. Once again, all four productions will be performed under the wide open Huron County sky, on the Blyth Festival Harvest Stage, built during the peak of the pandemic in early summer 2021.
Of the decision to keep the performances outdoors, Garratt says, “it’s pretty simple, for two years we’ve watched theatres open and close, open and close, pretty much without warning and in reaction to the ever-changing crisis at hand…and we know that a lot of people are still at risk, including people we love and admire…so we wanted to make the safest, most reliable choice we could for the moment we are in. Performing outdoors, in the open air, on our beautiful new stage, is about as safe it gets. Believe me, we’re desperate to get Memorial Hall open and perform in there again, but we need to know things are genuinely stable. I don’t think anyone knows that yet.”
Casting will be announced soon. At the time of release, we are expecting to sell 150 tickets per performance.
Tickets will go on sale by phone to members only starting Monday March 7 and the general public may start ordering both online and via phone beginning Monday April 4. Blyth Festival acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Township of North Huron and New Play
Development Sponsor Bruce Power. Watson’s Home Hardware supports the Harvest Stage. Blyth Festival would like to acknowledge that the land upon which the Harvest Stage, and Memorial Hall are built is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi, and we are grateful to bring community together here. The Blyth Festival is a professional theatre that enriches the lives of its audience by producing, presenting, and developing plays that give voice to both the region and the country. The theatre produces and presents exclusively Canadian theatre, with an
emphasis on new work. Blyth Centre for the Arts, including the Blyth Festival, was founded in 1975.