Photo cutline: At left, Blyth Festival General Manager Rachael King poses in front of a cutout from The Pigeon King in the lobby of the National Arts Centre on opening night.
Our administration staff were in two places at once recently.
One of us was at the Legion in Goderich, accepting an award on behalf of the Blyth Festival for being among the best in arts, culture and heritage within Huron County at the same time a few others were at the nation’s capital proudly bearing witness to the opening night performance of The Pigeon King, a play written and first performed right here in the village of Blyth before it caught the eye of the National Arts Centre’s artistic director, Jillian Keiley.
It was really an honour for us to sit among the audience and watch our co-writers, actors and creative team present a play about a Ponzi scheme in rural southwestern Ontario that negatively affected so many farmers, Amish and Mennonite neighbours, and see the play translate well for a largely urban crowd in a theatre that’s more than double the seating capacity of ours. It was hugely satisfying to see that the audience got it. They laughed at character Arlan Galbraith’s detailed description of the stench of “pig shit”. They responded to the playful song Friggin Pigeon King, in which the farmers were “just tired and angry and pissed off and worn out and furious and beat down and pacing and shaking and wound up” and a whole bunch of other stuff after finding out they’d been duped, sometimes out of their life savings. And even though this play is billed as a comedy, the audience seemed to get caught up in the drama of the office closure, the court proceedings, and the release – and drowning – of the pigeons.
After the show, we met up with the reeve of North Huron, the top politician in the township in which Blyth is located. Bernie Bailey had tucked himself just inside the door to the reception hall, standing quietly at the back of the room while the formal portion of the reception took place at the front. But when he was singled out by Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt, he smiled widely, shouted congratulations and pumped his fist in the air, reflecting a pride and enthusiasm felt by our small contingency from Blyth.
The play, on until May 5, has also been favourably received by Ottawa media:
apt 613 review
Capital Critic’s Circle / Le Cercle Des Critiques De La Capitale review
CBC’s All in a Day interview
As the play continues, our administration returns to preparations for the 45th Season of this theatre, with five main stage plays, two studio plays, and nearly 30 special events.
It’s shaping up to be a really good year.
By Heather Boa, Director of Marketing