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Setting the stage with natural talent


Cow Head. Stephenville. Trinity Bay. Long hours of highway apart, these three places have one thing in common: they all have a theatre they can be proud of. Every summer, tourists flock to these communities to enjoy some of the best theatre the province has to offer: shows like Theatre Newfoundland Lab-rador's Tempting Providence and Rising Tide's No Man's Land delight residents and visitors alike with their dramatic retelling of the stories that have shaped this province's distinct history. And now there is a performance company that intends to put Fogo Island on the theatrical map.

Making our way together - Cow Head. Stephenville. Trinity Bay. Long hours of highway apart, these three places have one thing in common: they all have a theatre they can be proud of.

Every summer, tourists flock to these communities to enjoy some of the best theatre the province has to offer: shows like Theatre Newfoundland Lab-rador's Tempting Providence and Rising Tide's No Man's Land delight residents and visitors alike with their dramatic retelling of the stories that have shaped this province's distinct history. And now there is a performance company that intends to put Fogo Island on the theatrical map.

Fogo Island is famous for being one of the four corners of the earth, and the World's End Theatre Company has big plans for the little island that inspired its name. Its first production, Here Comes We, delighted residents of the island with song and dance, recitations, and a mummer's play performed on nearby Change Islands. In August, World's End will launch its first professional play: Fighting Fire with Snow, an original piece written specifically for production on Fogo Island.

Fighting Fire with Snow takes place between 1967 and 1971, beginning with Premier Smallwood's public recommendation that residents of Fogo Island resettle to larger centres. The play follows the stories of three unconnected islanders from three different communities as they experience the drastic changes that occurred over these few years: the growth and expansion of the co-op, the building of the central high school and the drawing together of the island's communities in the face of a common danger. The play will be presented by Fogo Islanders and you can catch it at various outdoor locations throughout the island between August 6-9.

Fighting Fire with Snow is the first of what will be a series of pieces written for and about Fogo Island and Change Islands and their surroundings. We plan to tour these shows across the province, raising the islands' profile to audiences in major centres and to smaller communities that have a shared focus on the performing arts.

We also intend to find and renovate an existing building - hopefully one that holds significance to the community - into a professional-quality theatre stage. Not too far into the future, we plan to offer a full summer season of World's End Theatre Company productions and invite shows by other Newfoundland theatre companies into our theatre space.

As part of our commitment to produce professional-quality theatre, we've established the World's End Theatre Academy as a way to offer acting classes and workshops to islanders. Each of the actors involved in Fighting Fire with Snow participated in classes at the academy this past winter and this coming year we plan to expand into specialized workshops. Artists from all over Newfoundland are excited at the prospect of spending a few days on the islands teaching musical theatre, dance, clowning, monologue work, improvisation, and other skills for an aspiring stage performer's toolbox.

The inspiration for World's End might be home-grown but the company's vision is global. Once Fogo Island and Change Islands are wired with broadband technology, islanders could have front-row seats to performances done at nationally acclaimed theatres and opera houses. The broadband connection can also be used in an educational capacity, and the World's End Theatre Academy is looking at ways to make the best use of the technology. We're also considering the possibilities of a storytelling series, a concert series, and a young company, all of which would focus on making use of the enormous talent for the performing arts already so prominent on Fogo Island and Change Islands.

The World's End Theatre Company is mandated to bring theatre to the people of the islands, and to bring the islands stories to light through theatre. By commissioning original plays and touring them around the province, we hope to put this extraordinary place on the map for tourists and artists alike, and to give the islands' naturally creative people yet another thing they can be proud of.

Fighting Fire with Snow, Aug. 6-9

° Aug 6: Fogo, Brimstone Head Park, 6 pm

° Aug 7: Seldom Festival Stage, 6 pm

° Aug. 8: Island Harbour, 6 pm

° Aug 9: Change Islands Heritage Park, Noon; Tilting, Sandy Cove Beach, 6 pm

Sharon King-Campbell is the founding Artistic Director of the World's End Theatre Company. Sharon moved from Ottawa to Newfoundland in 2003 to study at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook and she now splits her time between St. John's and Joe Batt's Arm, where she makes her living as an actor, writer, director and producer for the theatre. Sharon has helped found several theatre companies, including Endless Sky Inc, and Act One Inc.

Writers of Making Our Way Together are associated with Shorefast Foundation, a Canadian-registered charity that is using entrepreneurial methods to help secure prosperity for the region of Fogo Islands and Change Islands.

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