CTF NOMINATED: Three Prestigious Capital Critics Circle Awards

Some of Canada’s top theatre reviewers have honoured the Classic Theatre Festival with three Capital Critics Circle Awards nominations for artistic excellence during their 2018 summer season in Perth. An awards ceremony will be held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on December 3rd. Laurel Smith, a Perth resident and the Classic Theatre Festival’s Artistic Producer, was nominated both for Best Direction – her third nomination in the category since 2016 – and Best Production (again, her third consecutive nomination) for the nail-biting thriller Angel Street, aka Gaslight. Meanwhile, Toronto-based performer Catherine McNally garnered a Best Actress nomination for the title role in the G.B. Shaw classic, Mrs. Warren’s Profession. It’s the third season in a row that the Capital Critics Circle has nominated Classic Theatre Festival shows: the 2016 season saw four nominations that were followed by an additional five in 2017. “We are blessed to host amazing talent here every summer, both on the stage with Canada’s top professional performers as well as behind the scenes, from stage managers and assistant stage managers to folks who bring us the beautiful look and feel of the show, like our lighting designer, Wesley McKenzie, our costume designer, Renate Seiler, and last year’s set designer, Roger Schultz,” says Smith. “And while it is wonderful to have theatre critics praise the high quality of our shows, it is incredibly gratifying that our audiences are having such a great time here as well.  Over 80% of them are tourists, and they really help pump up the summertime economy by eating in restaurants, staying overnight, and shopping in our local stores while they’re here.” In the meantime, the Festival is busy preparing for its 10th anniversary season in 2019. Next season’s mainstage offerings will feature the 9th-longest running play in Broadway history, the remarkable WW2-era romantic comedy The Voice of the Turtle (by John Van Druten); George Bernard Shaw’s most popular play, the hilarious Pygmalion (the basis for the musical My Fair Lady); and the longest-running comedy-thriller in Broadway history, Ira Levin’s Deathtrap (by the author of Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys from Brazil and The Stepford Wives). The Festival also plans its 5th annual season of theatrical walking plays with a brand new show on how residents of Perth came together to survive the Great Depression (running five mornings and two evenings a week).  In addition, after the Festival’s huge success of its completely sold-out dinner theatre run at Michael’s Table, a new dinner theatre show will play both Tuesday evenings and Tuesday at lunchtime from June 4 to the end of August. An announcement of the lunchtime and dinner theatre show will be made shortly. Those interested in enjoying deep discounts to the 10th anniversary season can receive 25% savings on a season flex pass between now and December 31st, and they don’t have to pick their dates until next summer. “They make great gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and ‘just because’ moments too,” Smith says. Tickets can be ordered online at ticketsplease.ca or by calling 1-877-283-1283. Continue reading


Every year, the Perth through the Ages historic theatrical walking play uncovers stories and characters from Perth’s past. Often, a historic event or character will be supplemented by fictional creations who are true to the era and which aid in the development of the story. For playwright Laurel Smith, who writes both the morning walking plays and the evening Lonely Ghosts Walks, “I always find playwriting/storytelling to be a spiritual, mystical process, as well as a serious responsibility.” For the past two summers, her works have focused on historic wrongs committed against Indigenous people in and around Perth, one of many communities that was settled in what is still unceded Algonquin territory. Numerous histories of Eastern Ontario still rely on the inaccurate notion that this area was uninhabited until European colonizers arrived, ignoring the fact that the Algonquin people have lived in the area since time immemorial, and still do. Much of Algonquin history is either buried or paved over and renamed. In 2016, Smith’s play River of Memory reminded audiences that when Europeans first arrived in the area, they could not have survived were it not for the generosity and knowledge of the Algonquin people who were already here. The story focused on a young man discovering his Indigenous heritage following the death of his mother. A Serendipitous Connection Last summer, A Nation Lost and Found  told a story of conflict at the time of Confederation, when a Scottish woman, Bridget O’Leary, experienced community disparagement after hiring an Indigenous man known as John Stevens to work on her farm. O’Leary was also criticized by her fiancé for helping care for Stevens’ baby, Marie. Over the winter, Smith was contacted by someone researching their family history. While Smith had consulted with representatives of numerous Algonquin nations to ensure the play’s historical accuracy, the Stevens name never came up in her research, and was instead, she thought, a fictional creation chosen to help represent Indigenous-settler relations at the time. But according to an email she received, the Stevens were in fact real people, and Smith’s choice of first names and approximate dates of both was uncannily in sync with family records. Indeed, Peter Stevens was the adopted name of Algonquin Chief Shawanipinessi, who along with his community at Bob’s Lake experienced an all too familiar tale of land dispossession and dishonourable treatment on the part of the Crown. “Peter Stevens’ son was John Stevens who was born in 1831,” read the email. “Marie Stevens was born between 1863 and 1867, which was a perfect match for the baby in your play!” The backdrop to A Nation Lost and Found was based on the less than savoury historical record, one of constant attempts by local Indigenous people to petition colonial authorities to end acts of violence and theft against the region’s first inhabitants. Unsavoury History According to archival records, “The Government of Sir Charles Bagot granted a license of occupation to Shwanapenesi  and his band of 90 or so souls in 1844. They lived… Continue reading