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Hot Summer Guide: Theatre events

The boards will be creaking underfoot all over the province this summer. Here's the lowdown on all the theatre you can shake a season at.



Dartmouth Players presents Art

Until June 27

Yasmina Reza's Tony Award-winning play is ostensibly about the perception, interpretation and value of art, but actually has more to say about the ups and downs of friendship. Serge, Marc and Yvan have been buddies for over 15 years, each with their own roles within the trio. When Serge buys a very expensive modern white-on-white painting without consulting Marc---the self-declared leader of the group---all hell breaks loose as the status quo is threatened. Ultimately, the three men find a surprising way to reconstruct their friendship. "The audience is going to be able to identify with this," says the play's director, Bryn Rowlands. "It's a good perspective on friendship, and one that will make you laugh."

Theatre Arts Guild presents Marie Antoinette: The Colour of Flesh

June 25-July 11

The combination of politics, history and romance should draw theatre-goers of every ilk to the Pond Playhouse to see Joel Gross's three-man play Marie Antoinette: The Colour of Flesh.

It is the story of an imagined love triangle between the controversial queen, a fictional count and a real-life, social-climbing portrait painter named Elisabeth Vigée le Brun. The plot spans the 20 years prior to the French Revolution, and in that time Marie Antoinette grows from an innocent who is preyed upon by the two more sophisticated characters to a woman worthy of respect. The Colour of Flesh is both a touching love story and an intelligent exploration of political and historical events.

Ship's Company summer theatre

July 1-August 30

It's been 25 years since Parrsboro's Ship's Company Theatre staged its first production on the beached passenger ferry, the MV Kipawo. In honour of this important anniversary, there's a party weekend planned for July 31 to August 2 that will include a full reading of Carol Sinclair's Summer of the Handley-Page, musical numbers from the hit show Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave and a tasty lobster boil at Ottawa House. Archival photographs by award-winning photographer Thaddeus Holownia will be exhibited all summer long at The Destination Gallery on Main Street. The regular mainstage season includes the world premiere of Charlie Rhindress's adaption of Bruce Graham's quirky, comic novel Ivor Johnson's Neighbours and Ferry Tales, the story of the aforementioned MV Kipawo, also by Carol Sinclair.

Shakespeare by the Sea summer season

July 1-September 6

Check out SBTS's new website and you'll find some funky images of dew-soaked leaves and exotic spices. Apt symbols for the edgy, outdoor experiences that beloved theatre company offers. This year's shows include: a riotous version of Jack and the Beanstalk for people of all ages; one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, Love's Labour's Lost; and the blood-drenched tragedy (is there any other kind?) Macbeth. The "stage" is just a lovely 12-minute walk from Point Pleasant's upper parking lot. Pack a picnic and you'll enjoy dinner and a show at price that can't be beat.

Theatre Off the Grid presents Rockbound

July 11-August 9

This is the third year that Two Planks and a Passion will be offering its amazingly creative brand of outdoor theatre at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning. Last year's productions of Our Town and Jerome cleaned up at the Merritt Awards, as did 2007's memorable production of The Odyssey, so there are high hopes for this season's world premiere of Rockbound. This musical drama is adapted by Allen Cole from Frank Parker Day's 1928 novel of the same name, a novel that won CBC Radio's 2004 Canada Reads competition. The hero of Rockbound is David Jung, a poor orphan who returns to his home in the North Atlantic to claim his birthright. It's being billed as an absolutely timeless story of unrequited love and destructive greed.

Halifax International Busker Festival

August 6-16

Eleven days. Five stages. Five hundred performances. There's bound to be something for everyone with a set-up like that. This year's Buskers Festival offers the usual exciting mix of death-defying feats and amusing street theatre. Here's a small sampling of what you can look forward to: Bike Boy---an acrobatic bicycle comedy stunt man; FlameOz, a high-energy fire show; Becky Hoops, the funny and talented hula-hoop girl; the hopping sensation known as the Pogo Dudes and the Ottawa-based acrobatic duo, the Phantastyks. Shows will run daily from noon to 11pm for 11 straight days at Historic Properties, Chebucto Landing, Queens Wharf, Maritime Museum and Sackville Landing.

Atlantic Fringe Festival

September 3-13

Fringe: noun

1. a decorative border of thread, cord, or the like, usually hanging loosely from a raveled edge or separate strip.

2. an outer edge; margin; periphery: on the fringe of the art world.

3. something regarded as peripheral, marginal, secondary or extreme in relation to something else: the lunatic fringe of a strong political party.

Consider how these definitions might apply to Halifax's annual festival of the sublime and the ridiculous. Is it decorative? Definitely, if you consider decoration to be something that brightens the drab and everyday. Is it peripheral? Yes, in the sense that you'll see plays and performers here that will never be seen at Neptune Theatre. And what about extreme? Extremely good and extremely bad. It's a crapshoot. Roll the dice and take a walk on the edge.

Chester Playhouse summer festival

July 22-August 29

Shows at the Chester Playhouse are generally an interesting mix of theatre, concerts and co-productions, and this season is no exception. If you missed Brooke Johnson's poignant one-woman memoir Trudeau Stories at this year's SuperNova Festival, you'll have a chance to catch it in Chester this summer. Likewise for Two Planks and Passion's musical drama Rockbound, which will move indoors from its stage in Canning for a four-day mid-August run at the Chester Playhouse. The festival includes Heart to Heart, five vignettes about romance and relationships starring Nigel Bennett and Lally Cadeau, and Marrow Bones, an evening of Nova Scotia's traditional songs and stories performed by Janice Jackson, Scott MacMillan and Paul Simmons.

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