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Needling with Words (Posted On: Wednesday, October 11, 2006)

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People always wonder where writers get their inspiration. Georgian Triangle’s Dan Needles just has to go out his front door, and the inspiration for his work is right there.

Dan spent half his childhood in Toronto and the other half at the family farm in Rosemont, Ontario. After university he went to Shelburn to work as the editor of the local newspaper. This is where he created his most famous character... Walt Wingfield. Through Dan's creative abilities and knowledge of both city and country life, he was able to define the character, and his possible and eventual problems of moving to a farm from the city. Initially Dan wrote a series of letters from the fictitious character Walt Wingfield to the Editor of the Shelburn Free Press. It was out of these series of letters that in 1985 the play "Letter from Wingfield Farm" was born.

The Wingfield Farm series of plays now numbers 6, and in one form or another they have been performed more that 3000 times, including stages in Stratford, and Toronto, and even at the Royal Alex. The Wingfield plays have also been reproduced into a 21 part series for CBC television, which you can currently see on BRAVO.

Dan has also written four multi-character plays. "The Perils of Persephone", "The Bells of Larkspur", "The last Christmas Turkey" and premiering this August in Collingwood, "Ed's Garage".

When not writing plays, Dan has authored 4 books. Two based on Wingfield, A fictional novel "With Axe and Flask, the History of Persephone Township", which won the 2003 Steven Leacock award for humour; and "The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, an illustrated history". He also writes regularly for both Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine and Country Guide magazine.

It is quite interesting how the landscape, the people and the misadventures that Dan writes about have a very familiar feel to our own Georgian Triangle.

Dan lives with his wife Heath and their four children on a small farm near Nottawa, Ontario, along with an ever growing assortment of farm animals.

If your appetite has been wetted, Dan's books are available locally at the Crows Nest Book Store. The Meaford Library is presenting "Poke Fun with Needles" featuring Dan Needles and the Fig Leaf Jazz Band, at the Meaford Townhall October 28.

For tickets to "Poke fun with Needles", Georgian Theatre Festival, Meaford at 519-538-3569

Submitted by Margot Nicolson-Trott
Owner, Georgian Frame Gallery
Photo by John Knox

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