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Collingwood World Premiere (Posted On: Wednesday, August 10, 2011)

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The celebratory grand finale to Theatre Collingwood’s summer season is a world premiere!  FAIR PLAY, the newest multi-character comedy by Dan Needles, takes the stage August 18-20 / 22-27 at 8pm with matinees on August 23 and 25 at 2pm, at the Historic Gayety Theatre, 161 Hurontario Street.

HarbourEdge Mortgage Investment Corporation steps up as a new Production sponsor, in conjunction with long-time season supporter Blue Mountain Resort.

Petunia Valley’s fresh new community theatre and the town’s ancient agricultural society don’t have much in common. But money woes throw the two groups into an unlikely and rickety partnership to fundraise for a new building that will house sheep and Shakespeare. Old grudges threaten to bring the project to a grinding halt.

FAIR PLAY explores the changing rural and community landscape.  Bloodlines and the connection with the earth are deeply ingrained in farming families.  Yet, many young people nowadays are leaving the farm for other opportunities

At the same time, community-based organizations are struggling to survive because volunteerism is dwindling.

Playwright Dan Needles comments, “This is the story of the intrepid unpaid stalwarts who make our communities a better place to live.  It is my tribute to the lowly volunteer.”

Says Director Steven Thomas, “There will always be conflict between individuals or groups.  Attitudes often overshadow the greater good because humans get caught up in the conflict of the situation.  I ultimately believe that the fundamental motives are honorable.”

As audiences might imagine, the comedy takes place in the mythical Persephone Township with its hardworking farmers, timeless small towns, and laconic local citizens.  In Persephone, anything can happen, and generally does.  Expect to enter a fabled world which is strange, yet recognizable, and endearing characters who remind you of your neighbours, or yourself.

Melodee Finlay (Chloe Bell) and Jay Wilson (Bert McNabb) return to our stage, while debuting artists include:  Mark Huisman (Fred Pargeter), Ryan Hollyman (Grant Stegner) and Leah Oster (Lorie Pargeter). Stage Director, Set & Sound Designer, Steven Thomas is assisted by Barry Cook (Stage Manager), Hella Sandberg (Costume/ Hair & Makeup Designer) Sarah Scroggie (Lighting Designer/Technical Director) and Rachel Thomas (Scenic Artist).

A year in development, FAIR PLAY is the fourth multi-character play Dan has created in association with Artistic Director, Steven Thomas. Together, they have also premiered The Bells of Larkspur (2003), The Last Christmas Turkey (2005) and Ed’s Garage (2006) at Theatre Collingwood.

Many playwrights “write about what they know best”.  A resident of the area and a sheep farmer, Dan has been involved with the Collingwood Agricultural Society and the Great North Exhibition for years.   

And he certainly knows his way around the world of theatre. His father, William Needles, who at the age of 93 is one of the last surviving members of the original Stratford Shakespeare Festival company.  His mother, Dorothy Jane Goulding, has written numerous children’s’ plays.

Dan Needles is the creator of the popular Wingfield Farm plays, seven full-length stage comedies that have filled theatres across North America for more than 4,000 performances since 1984. He is winner of the 2003 Stephen Leacock Medal for humour for “With Axe and Flask, The History of Persephone Township from Pre-Cambrian Times to the Present”. Dan writes columns for two publications these days, “Petunia Valley Sideroad” for Country Guide Magazine and “True Confessions from the Ninth Concession” for Harrowsmith Country Life.

Purchase tickets online!  Or, contact the Theatre Collingwood Box Office for information on specials such as: restaurant-theatre package featuring The Stuffed Peasant, overnight getaway at Blue Mountain Resort, Scenery Spa & Showtime package, subscription and group discounts, as well as youth/student rates. 

Theatre Collingwood’s main box office is located in the Rail Car beside the Collingwood Museum, 45 St. Paul Street, Monday to Friday between 11am – 3pm.  Call:  (705) 445-2200 / 1 (866) 382-2200 orvisit our website. Tickets are only available at the Gayety Theatre, one hour prior to performance.


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