The Blyth Festival, the Ontario summer theatre festival devoted to new and recent Canadian works in contrast to the classics driven Stratford and Shaw festivals of province, will stage six productions in 2000.
The season, on the Lake Huron side of southern Ontario, includes:
• Anne, Paul Ledoux's adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's popular "girl" novel, "Anne of Green Gables." June 21-Aug. 6.
• Corker, by Wendy Lill, a sharp and funny play about an unusual legacy that disrupts the ordered lives of an affluent couple. June 28-Aug. 5.
• Stolen Lives -- The Albert Walker Story, a true crime tale by Peter Colley (I'll Be Back Before Midnight) based on the disappearance of Walker, his daughter and a lot of money. Aug. 1-19. • The Drawer Boy, by Michael Healey, was commissioned and developed at Blyth and played two sold out runs in Toronto, winning the 1999 Governor General's Award. The story, an ode to rural life and storytelling, concerns two Huron County farmers who play host to an actor researching The Farm Show. July 25-Aug. 26.
• Death of the Hired Man, conceived and directed by Paul Thompson, returns after its popular run at Blyth last season, when the theatre was transformed into a barn, evoking the last days of the threshing era on farms. June 1-17.
• When the Reaper Calls, Peter Colley's comic mystery thriller of last season, returns to offer ghosts, lust and greed. Aug. 22-Sept. 2
The sleepy rural town of Blyth, population 1,000, is known for its leather goods outlets and its quiet summer days.
Unlike Ontario's better-known Stratford and Shaw festivals, which revive classics and only occasionally present new works, the Blyth Festival's mission is to produce original Canadian plays. The festival presents at two spaces, the 483-seat Blyth Center for the Performing Arts (the community's Memorial hall, used for special events the rest of the year) and the 120-seat Garage Theatre (a production and rehearsal space that becomes a stage in the summer).
The Blyth Festival has a $1.2 million (Cdn.) budget and employs 72 full time and seasonal employees. Since 1975, the festival has produced more than 85 world premieres, and about 50 percent of them have gone on to second productions.
Tickets go on sale to members April 3, and the general public April 17. Tickets range $15-$25. For information, call (877) 862-5984.
-- By Kenneth Jones