Helen Creighton and Doreen Senior were 'visiting' the community of Memory Lane in Lake Charlotte last night for A Ghostly Encounter. It was a delightful visit and a successful theatre production of Eastern Shore Players. The play was in five acts and the audience moved from location to location for each act, much of which, was outside.
Helen Creighton, played by Ginny Mendl, and Doreen Senior,played by Thea Wilson Hammond seemed to fit the parts in both look and manner. Helen's looks of disbelief and Doreen's looks of puzzlement were priceless. Even their 1930ish costumes were believable from Helen's red ensemble to Doreen's outfit including warm coat and sensible shoes. Their arrival by car was one of the memorable scenes.
It was nice to see a mix of actors of all ages. The younger actors were enthusiastic with challenging contradictory parts and emotional dialogue such as Lloyd, the minister, played by Clarice Bowser and Mary, played by Jessica Coffin. A couple of the younger actors had logistically challenging feats such as the river scene in the final act. Kudos to Niko Wilson-Henkelmann who played Abbie, and to Emma Saunders, who played young Grace, for their incredible boat scene. Supporting actors of all ages were challenged to keep the dialogue flowing with vocal interjections and body language indicative of their characters such as the Bootlegger played by Tim Lambert or Sam, the Garageman/booted spirit played by Joan Monk. Many, if not all, of the actors used words in their dialogue or actions indicative of a different time and place; particularly Jack, the Fisherman played by Gordon Hammond. The changing settings also reflected the era as the audience moved from the United Church, Village Garage, Fishermans Storehouse, Little Harbour Schoolhouse, The Webber House to Dufferin pond.
The entire cast and crew, including the tech and staging teams, dealt with logistically challenging scenes to create memorable snapshot moments such as a view of a house from the outside in. The script highlighted the importance of oral history to communities by including songs, lore, superstition and stories throughout the play. These were the things that Helen went looking for in her travels all over the Maritimes, and as in the play, she sometimes had to be picky about what she recorded. Much depended on what organisation she was collecting for, why she was collecting, or even many supplies she had left for recording the material.
The great number of stories, songs and lore that Helen amassed are part of our collective culture in Nova Scotia. It is so nice to see the oral tradition being honoured in this delightful community production by a small, dedicated theatre company. As a museum, Memory Lane continues to engage audience with interesting events highlighting a particular era. This play, A Ghostly Encounter, is one of the gems.
NOTE: This play, A Ghostly Encounter, was partially funded by the Grant-In Aid program of the Helen Creighton Folklore Society.
PHOTOS: Helen ( in red) and Doreen (dark coat, white collar) arrive by car, and are introduced to the villagers.
Helen collecting stories with her recording machine, Doreen sitting and taking notes.