The Brand New Blyth Festival Harvest Stage Brings its Bounty to 2021

Rachael King Blog

Blyth, ON – Five Canadian productions. Each featuring one lone magical storyteller.  All performed under the wide open Huron County sky, on the newly built Blyth Festival Harvest Stage, at the Blyth Fairgrounds.

Occupying roughly a five acre natural amphitheatre at the North/West corner of the Blyth Fairgrounds, and backing right onto the Goderich to Guelph rail trail, a beautiful, brand new, wrap around open air theatre, The Blyth Festival Harvest Stage will be a permanent addition to the Blyth Festival seasons moving forward.

“This is going to be transformative,” says Gil Garratt, Artistic Director. “Challenging as the last 16 months have been, we have had the opportunity to reinvent, and dream a new future into being.  We have built an incredible new performance space that will be used for generations to come.

It’s breathtaking. This is a chance for us to come together as safely as possible, in a place that is truly beautiful, surrounded by farm fields and forest. The sun sets every night over stage right. The stars, milky way and all, will fill the sky. And all of us will walk away with a new story in our hearts. I really can’t wait to share it with everyone. The clouds are parting.”

The Blyth Festival has been working closely with Huron Perth Public Health, along with industry health and safety partners, to create a robust Covid safety policy. Rachael King, General Manager of Blyth Festival says “months of planning have gone into a living document that we will utilize and update as things change. But we’re confident 2021 can go safely ahead, albeit at a reduced capacity.”

The Festival’s season will run August 11 to October 3, 2021. More details are available on the website. Tickets will go on sale by phone to members only starting July 5th. The general public may start ordering both online and via phone beginning July 20.  There will be limited tickets available.

Although the province has not yet stated what audience capacity may be come August, Gil Garratt has planned a season of physically distanced outdoor theatre, and the Blyth Festival is ready to keep everyone, artists and audience, as safe as possible, while returning to the stage with live, high calibre, singularly Canadian, theatre to move audiences the way only live theatre can.

The season:

The Downs by Sheryl Scott – August 11 to August 22

This hilarious, moving, and inspiring play began at the London Ontario Fringe Festival in 2015. Performed by London based writer Sheryl Scott, this show is an intimate, personal, and life-affirming telling of the story of her family’s farm in New Brunswick in the 1950s. Full of nostalgia and instantly relatable, the gregarious storyteller reels us all in before cracking our hearts open with a stirring secret.  

Sure to sell out yet again, this is the third time we’ve brought this incomparable gem to Blyth.

Café Daughter by Kenneth T. Williams – August 25 to September 5

Inspired by a true story about a Chinese-Cree girl growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1950s and 60s, Kenneth T. Williams’ remarkable play premiered in 2011 in Dawson City to instant acclaim. This tour-de-force tells the story of Charlie Wong who emigrates from China to rural Saskatchewan, and opens a restaurant. But provincial law at the time prevents Charlie from hiring white women to work for him. Katherine, a young Cree woman from a nearby reserve, takes a job at the café. In time, the two fall in love, marry, and have a daughter—Yvette. The play begins in 1957, as nine-year-old Yvette Wong helps out in her parents’ café in Alistair, Saskatchewan. She’s incredibly bright but has been placed in the slow learners’ class because of her skin colour. Her mother Katherine, who was forced to attend a residential school, is conflicted about her identity and charges Yvette with a secret— to never tell anyone she’s part Cree.

Seen through the hopeful and undaunted eyes of young Yvette, this play touches us all at a time when we need it. Williams was originally inspired by the true story of Canada’s first Indigenous Senator, and our first senator of Chinese descent, the trailblazing Lillian Eva Quon Dyck.

Chase the Ace written & performed by Mark Crawford, directed by Miles Potter  September 8 to September 19

From the writer of Stag and Doe, The Birds and the Bees, Bed and Breakfast, and The New Canadian Curling Club, comes a hilarious one-man comedy about a down-on-his-luck DJ, a local lottery, and the search for truth in these unprecedented times.

When big city radio host Charlie King is forced to take a job managing a small-town radio station, he has no idea what’s in store! Not only does a pandemic begin his first week in, but he quickly finds himself chasing a story of municipal corruption, and running the Chase the Ace fundraiser, live on air. The radio jock and the dozens of locals (who keep phoning in) become the touching lifeline to neighbours under stay-at-home orders.  

Festival favourite, Mark Crawford, is back, and this time he’s playing all the characters on and off the air in this hilarious new comedy.

Assassinating Thomson by Bruce Horak – September 15 to Sept. 25

Bruce Horak plays himself in this show, his Blyth festival debut; A gifted performer and a brilliant visual artist, Bruce has been legally blind since childhood. In ASSASSINATING THOMSON, Horak shares the unique way he sees the world while exploring the truth and lies behind the mysterious death of one of Canada’s greatest artists and unofficial 8th member of the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson. Weaving the famous painters’ biography with the story of the loss of his own vision, Bruce draws the audience into a deep connection to life and the true value of art. Throughout the performance Bruce paints a live portrait of an audience member.

Jewel by Joan MacLeod – September 22 to October 3

A breath-takingly beautiful, funny and heart-breaking play about a young couple who buy a cattle ranch in Alberta. To pay the mortgage, the husband takes a job in the oil patch for half the year. When he’s offered the chance to work on a rig in Newfoundland, the couple see a clear way to fulfill their dreams. An unspeakable loss leads this young wife to relive the greatest love of her life; from their first Valentine’s day, to their last. Originally premiered in 1987, this stunning Canadian classic, will be performed by Rebecca Auerbach and directed by JD Nicholsen.

Blyth Festival acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Community Futures Huron, the Township of North Huron and New Play Development Sponsor Bruce Power.

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.