Whiteway gears up for sixth annual Spring Hare

Lillian
Lillian Simmons
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The Whiteway Spring Hare Committee members are (front) Clifford and Shirley George, (standing from left) Wayne George, Jane Prior, Albert Legge and (seated back right) chairwoman Lisa Day-Brown. — Photo by Lillian Simmons/Special to The Telegram

It’s spring cleaning time and in Trinity South the dust is flying. A small group of energetic residents have again rolled up their sleeves to beat the grit out of the winter doldrums and offer up a tonic — the sixth annual Spring Hare, set to take place in Whiteway May 3-4.

Originally, the event consisted of an afternoon of exhibits of original artworks and performances from poets, musicians and storytellers.

But last year the Spring Hare Committee decided to add a Friday night dinner theatre, which quickly sold out. So this year they moved the dinner theatre to the Whiteway Memorial Centre, a larger venue, and doubled the number of tickets to 200. Within a week they were gone.

“Last year was our first year experimenting with the dinner theatre aspect of it,” explains committee chair Lisa Day-Brown. “We kept it semi-small because we were unsure of how much interest there would be, and we received an overwhelming amount of support.”

The lineup for the May 3 Spring Fever dinner theatre includes a writer/storyteller, an actress/

comedienne, and a songwriter/musician.

Faeries and ghosts

With traditional tales and legends, stories of faerie folk, and the Brothers Grimm, Dale Jarvis has entertained audiences around the province, across Canada, and as far away as Wisconsin, Beijing and Oslo. Jarvis also writes a bi-weekly column for The Telegram.

“So I’m always on the lookout for new ghost stories. Sometimes I might hear a piece of the story from one person and another little piece of the story from another person and I can do a bit of research and put them together.”

Having penned and performed a number of storytelling shows and written several collections of Newfoundland ghost stories from all over the province, Jarvis has lots of material to choose from for Spring Fever.

“Every region has their own stories and when I’m in a region I like being able to tell a story from there. So there’ll be some local content and probably some stuff from a little bit further afield, too.”

This will be his second year performing at the Spring Fever dinner theatre.

“It’s wonderful to see that type of community support for the arts,” he says. “It’s a really positive thing to have in a community.

Channelling grandma

St. John’s comedienne, writer, actor Amy House will attend Spring Fever with her 87-year-old friend Ida Rumbolt from Daniel’s Harbour.

“I think I channelled my grandmother when I wrote this piece,” House says about the character. “But I never realized it until after I’d performed it for a year.”

The sketch revolves around Ida, who lives with her 90-year-old husband. Ida decides she needs a break and goes out on the porch to sit in her rocking chair, where she has a chat with Mercedes who is out working in the garden.

“I usually try to figure out who my audience is and what the atmosphere of the presentation is and this seems like such a great opportunity for that character.

“I’ve never been to the Spring Hare in Whiteway, and I’m really looking forward to it. From what I’ve read and heard about it, I know that it started very organically around the kitchen table, writing poetry.

“I think it’s just such a magical way this event started and continued to grow. To see that Gerry Squires and Dale Jarvis and other people who are renowned in our province, nationally and internationally in some cases, are involved in this, it’s very exciting that they thought to invite me. I’m honoured to be there.”

House just finished working on a new show called “Shabaret” with Alison Woolridge and Bernie Stapleton, an RCA Theatre production that runs from April 11-21 at the LSPU Hall.

Home boy

The musical portion of the dinner theatre will feature singer/songwriter Glenn Simmons, whose musical career began playing at high school dances in the area more than 40 years ago. Since then he’s contributed his songwriting, guitar playing and voice to numerous bands including Wonderful Grand Band and the Fables, performing all over Canada, Europe and from the North Pole to the Middle East.

Simmons says he’s looking forward to performing so close to home, and adds it will be a first for him.

“I’m a band guy. That’s what I’ve always done and certainly doing a solo thing with an acoustic guitar will be quite a change for me. My mother was born and raised in Whiteway and I’ve never played there, so it’s a bit of an event for me in that regard as well.”

He’ll be doing original songs, some recorded with The Fables, some from his album “Sweet Vanilla and Assorted Flavours” and a few from an upcoming album that he’s still writing.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for people to sit through a bunch of songs they’ve never heard before, but to be honest I don’t have any cover tunes that I could play in an acoustic solo — well, I can play them instrumentally, but I can never remember the words, which makes me the worst guy at a kitchen party,” he laughs. “So, for me, it’s really nice to see an event in this area that’s fresh and offers such artistic scope.”

Leaps and bounds

The Spring Hare Saturday Event (May 4) has seen some growth this year as well. Last year, about 20 exhibitors participated.

The deadline for registration for exhibits is April 27. As of April 10, 29 artists had registered to display an assortment of work from paintings and sculptures to hooked rugs and photography.

The event is free and doors open at 1 p.m. giving people a chance to view the exhibits before the live entertainment begins at 2 p.m.

“Our special guest speakers are Tom Dawe, well-known Newfoundland poet and artist who has endlessly supported the Hare. He has yet to miss a season,” Day-Brown points out.

“Andrew Peacock, who is alive with expressionism through various mediums such as writing, storytelling and photography will also be speaking, along with Lloyd Brown, a well-known Newfoundland storyteller from Fogo Island, who writes poems along with stories about his childhood and experiences of growing up in Newfoundland.”

Day-Brown says the committee has been extremely busy throughout the year.

“We strive to bring good quality entertainers to this area. This is our second dinner theatre and we’ve had overwhelming success with it. It’s wonderful to see everyone coming together to enjoy and support the arts. We’ve had a lot of support from so many people, and for that we are very grateful.”

Organizations: Hare Committee, The Telegram, Fever dinner theatre Amy House RCA Theatre

Geographic location: Whiteway, Newfoundland, Trinity South Canada Wisconsin Beijing Oslo Europe North Pole Fogo Island

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