Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Drama in a Small Town

For over 400 years drama and the theatrical arts have been important parts of life in the Annapolis Royal region. In this area, we got our start in the dramatic world when, on November 14, 1606, a masque took place on the waters of the Annapolis Basin. Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt and Samuel Champlain along with a group of French sailors had spent the warmer months exploring along the coast of what is now New England. When the weather grew cooler they made their way back to their safe haven on the side of the North Mountain. To welcome them back to the Habitation, Marc Lescarbot, a Parisian lawyer wrote a play which was performed by a combined cast of French and Mi'Kmaq. Under the direction of Lescarbot, the players gave their performances while standing in canoes alongside the returning ship.

Today, Annapolis Royal is the home of King's Theatre. The theatre presents a variety of live music and drama as well as movies. It is almost amazing that a community the size of Annapolis Royal (450 residents in the town itself) is able to support a theatre of this sort. Even with the inclusion of communities in the county which support the theatre, there is not a large local population. It is a testament to the strength of our volunteers that we can keep this sort of facility going.

Other local groups also take a hand in presenting drama. The Annapolis District Drama Group have a long history of presenting quality amateur productions. Drama group presentations are always fun since there is a great deal of community spirit in the mounting of the production. Over the course of a year you can almost guarantee that someone will also mount some form of dinner theatre or dramatic fundraiser. I must admit that I have also had the chance to dabble behind the scenes. Over the past three years the Annapolis Heritage Society has presented two plays in its Tales from a Tiny Perfect Town series. Both 5 Stab Wounds in the Governor and Washing Soldiers 1797 have taken a slightly off kilter look at our local history.

The image at the top of today's post comes from the Pickwick Club. This group of young women was assembled in the late nineteenth century to present various tableaux. The women, wearing appropriate costumes, would pose to represent a scene or image. The photograph in this post was taken about 1898.

All for now,
RGS

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