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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Update: Eastern Front Theatre is going on a road trip

The Dartmouth-based theatre company is making an outing of it with a trip to the closing matinee performance of Downed Hearts on August 27 at Ship's Company Theatre in Parrsboro.

Update (9 August): Organizers have advised that the bus is now full and have established a waitlist.

With Eastern Front Theatre co-presenting local playwright Catherine Banks’ new play Downed Hearts three hours away at Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, the Dartmouth-based theatre company is making an outing of it with a road trip to the show’s closing matinee on August 27.

I have been dying to do something like this forever, so I’m thrilled to have a theatre company as an excuse to make it happen. – Kat McCormack

“I have been dying to do something like this forever, so I’m thrilled to have a theatre company as an excuse to make it happen,” says Eastern Front’s artistic director, Kat McCormack.

The bus will depart at 9:00 a.m. from Dartmouth’s Alderney Landing on August 27, with a couple of stops along the way to Parrsboro. Following the show, there will be an artist talk with the playwright and cast and crew members before one last stop on the way back. Travellers are expected to arrive at Alderney Landing at 7:00 p.m. that same day.

“I’m excited to put my past experience as first mate on Theodore Tugboat to good use as the unofficial tour guide,” says McCormack.

Co-presented by Eastern Front Theatre and Ship’s Company Theatre, in association with Halifax’s Matchstick Theatre, Downed Hearts is inspired by the local response to the Swissair 111 disaster that struck off the coast of Peggy’s Cove in 1998.

The story follows a fisherman named Aaron, whose quiet island community is thrown into chaos when tragedy falls from the sky. In the days following, Aaron searches the water trying to make sense of what’s happened, until he finds a silent young woman amongst the wreckage.

“Long after the Swissair disaster, and after the stories of the victims and the victims’ families had been told, there were quieter stories about the struggles of the fishermen who went out that night to rescue people but instead spent days in a grisly recovery operation,” says playwright Banks. “In 2006 I started thinking about how a fisherman might heal from the trauma of that experience and suddenly a young woman, waiting on an island, came into my imagination. Writing the play has been an exploration of how healing comes to us in mysterious ways.”

For Eastern Front’s McCormack, the show “just makes sense” for local audiences.

“Everyone has a story or knows someone with a story about how they were affected following Swissair,” she says. “It’s this local experience that Catherine [Banks] has powerfully zeroed in on, with real warmth and beauty.”

The play is making a timely debut, just weeks before the 25th anniversary of the crash on September 2. But as McCormack points out, this is not a play about the Swissair disaster or even the fictionalized air disaster in the play, but rather “how a family struggles to come together after the unthinkable happens, and with the arrival of a divisive stranger.”

Visit easternfronttheatre.com for more information.

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