Telling tales on P.E.I.

Sally
Sally Cole
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Director Colin Buchanan discusses ideas for the script with his father, Alan Buchanan, one of the storytellers in Story. The talents of many people have gone into this show, which opens at The Guild in Charlottetown on July 6.

Story - A Portrait of Home Through Song and Story on stage at The Guild this summer

Stories are accounts of real or imaginary people and events.

And whether they are told to entertain, inform or to provide comfort, they are far more important than people give them credit for.

“Often, people will say, ‘it’s just a story,’ not realizing that stories are at the centre of everything,” says David Weale.

“They’re at the centre of our communal and personal identities on P.E.I. We are the stories that we tell. We live out story lines,” says the popular Island storyteller,” as he describes the premise of a new show hitting the boards of The Guild in Charlottetown this summer.

Story - A Portrait of Home Through Song and Story, a collaboration of Weale and Colin Buchanan, an award-winning musician/producer, plays Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in July and August at 7:30 p.m. It features storytellers Alan Buchanan and Hank Stinson, along with musicians Ashley Condon, Brad Fremlin and Dylan Menzie and actor Mike Walker.

In the show the creators take audience members on a magic carpet ride through the generations as they discover that storytelling is all around them.

Colin is thrilled to be in the driver’s seat.

“I got on board by delving deeply into David’s writing. I became very enamoured with his work, especially Chasing the Shore, which I really enjoyed. So, by the time David and I met to unravel the idea of storytelling as a means of communication, I had read must of his work, says the co-director for the show who is also enjoying the creative process.

“Writing the script and the intros with David, we developed the storyteller character who guides the audience through each storytelling concept. Next, David, Hank and Alan put their stories together. Then, as the final element, we brought in the musicians to perform their songs, create new ones and develop a soundscape.”

In the past few weeks, Colin has been busy mixing the various elements together.

“We have a lot of weaving to do yet in terms of bringing things together in a natural way. That’s the lion’s share of the job.

In an intergenerational twist, Colin is directing his father. And his dad doesn’t mind.

“It’s an unusual experience, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m impressed by his professionalism and gentleness with me,” says Alan who is happy to be part of the show.

“Hank and I tell some stories that are familiar and some that are new. Then we do a little vignette of two gentlemen exchanging stories at a wake, which, of course, is one of the great pastimes on Prince Edward Island.

“In fact, I think,” laughs Alan, breaking into a character, “the funeral home should offer seasons tickets, so you can go to right to the head of the line.”

Watching the comedy and the other elements of the show come together, Weale is enthused.

“I feel fortunate that I fell in with this energetic young crew because it’s been a mutual benefit — me passing on what I know and them stirring me up a little more with their enthusiasm.”

For him, the ride began

last year when David Cyrus MacDonald of Confederation Entertainment Inc. called Weale to say he was applying for a Charlottetown 2014 grant for a storytelling show and needed an endorsement.

“I thought it was a good idea so I supported them.”

When the project was approved, last fall, MacDonald called Weale again, to ask what they should do.

“Then Colin Buchanan came to me to talk about it and I was so impressed with his preparation and his sensibilities that I thought this could actually be fun.

“And it has been enormously (fun).”

AT A GLANCE

Anne by the numbers

There have been 2,837 performances of Anne of Green Gables – The Musical at Confederation Centre’s Charlottetown Festival.

Over 2.4 million people have seen the show.

Sixteen actresses have played the role of Anne.

There have been 46,000 copies of the recording of the musical sold.

Fifty million copies of the book have been sold worldwide.

There are 76 people involved in the cast and crew at the Charlottetown Festival.

Organizations: The Guild, Confederation Entertainment

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Green Gables

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