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Festival Antigonish presents Theatre on the Town - Updated with schedule

Ryan Gallant (left), Emma Vickers, Briony Merritt and Abby Weisbrot recreating a Titanic-like scene as they rehearse for their Theatre on the Town performance which will take place in July.
Ryan Gallant (left), Emma Vickers, Briony Merritt and Abby Weisbrot recreating a Titanic-like scene as they rehearse for their Theatre on the Town performance which will take place in July. - Richard MacKenzie

Different locations around town become stages

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre (FA) is coming to you. Right to you.

A new wrinkle – initiative – in the programing for this year’s FA lineup is Theatre on the Town, which will be directed by Sam Rosenthal and starring the young company actors; Emma Vickers, Briony Merritt, Ryan Gallant and Abby Weisbrot.

“The plays will be originals, some will be musical, short - about 10 mins each - and free,” Reema Fuller, festival managing director, wrote in an email to the Casket.

“Each play will be site specific, written to make sense in the location where it is taking place.

Poster for Theatre on the Town
Poster for Theatre on the Town

The four confirmed locations are; Red Sky Art Gallery, The Art House, East Coast Credit Union, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Performances take place at all four locations during the weeks of July 2 to 6 and July 23 to 27, with multiple venues each day.”

Fuller said more dates and locations may be added for August and that details will be posted online, closer to the dates.

“Community members are invited to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or check our website www.festivalantigonish.com. Any questions can also be directed to the box office at boxoffice@festivalantigonish.com or 902-867-3333,” Fuller wrote.

“This special initiative is funded by the Nova Scotia Culture Innovation Fund and we are very excited to have this chance to bring theatre out into the community, in unexpected locations, to add to the vibrancy of Antigonish.”

Rosenthal is joining the festival this summer from his home in Halifax where he is the artistic producer for Eastern Front Theatre. He talked about his experience in the ‘on the town’ style. 

“In the my last seven to eight years, my focus in Toronto, and a little bit in Halifax, has been immersive or site-specific theatre; which is, basically, a term for theatre which is held not in a traditional theatre space,” Rosenthal, who is from Toronto, said. 

“For example, in Toronto, we worked out of a historical home in the heart of downtown Toronto. The show I did there took place in the three levels of the home and we set it in the 1920s.

“Out of Halifax, we did something at the Keith’s Brewery; same thing, using the actual building and bringing it to life. In cases like that, basically the audience is invited to walk around and experience what is happening.

“We call it immersive because it’s a 3-D environment; you are actually in the work … are part of it. I direct a lot of theatre on thrust stages but, for me, there is something magical about this type of theatre.”

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He was asked about a setting which isn’t nearly as controlled, as a theatre like the Bauer.

“The joys of immersive theatre, from an acting point of view, are not for the faint of heart,” he said, with a chuckle.

“We have a very talented group of actors here who can, for example, if we’re doing a scene on a bench, and you have a lot of people that day – there are 50 audience members watching and the bench is full of audience members – you have to be able to still carry off the scene. I’ve given them some fun tricks and suggestions on how you do that.”

He talked about the four “original” productions.

“We’ve been creating scripts and, obviously, we wanted to make it relevant to Antigonish so there is a theme; what each space, we believe, means to this community. So there are themes interwoven,” he said.

“If the people from the community come out, we want them to hear, possibly, some of the history echoed back to them, in an entertaining way. Or we just want them to experience something they can recognize and have fun with. And there is music in a lot of it; this is a really talented group, they’re creating songs every day.”

As for his time in Antigonish so far, Rosenthal described the area as “stunningly beautiful.”

“I’m smitten; I really love it here,” he said.

UPDATE: Schedule confirmed

THEATRE ON THE TOWN SCHEDULE FOR JULY 2-6 (each venue hosts a different play)

 July 2nd-5th (Tuesday-Friday, DAILY):

12:00pm - St. Paul's Anglican Church (Church Street)

12:45pm - The Arts House (Next to Boston Pizza)

1:30pm – East Coast Credit Union (Main Street)

2:15pm - Red Sky Gallery (Main Street)

 July 6th (Saturday):

12:45pm - St. Paul's Anglican Church

1:30pm - The Arts House

2:15pm - Red Sky Gallery

Young company actors Ryan Gallant (left), Abby Weisbrot, Emma Vickers and Briony Merritt rehearsing for their Theatre on the Town performance which will take place in July.
Young company actors Ryan Gallant (left), Abby Weisbrot, Emma Vickers and Briony Merritt rehearsing for their Theatre on the Town performance which will take place in July.

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