Celebrating 25 years together
EFT 25: Eyes Front
25 years. Over 200 Canadian productions. Hundreds of artists. Thousands of audience members. One special celebration.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Eastern Front Theatre. For a quarter of a century, we’ve been telling Atlantic Canadian stories. And now, we’re asking you to be part of our story. We’re gearing up for a celebration that will reflect on our first 25 years of bringing award-winning, ground-breaking theatre to Halifax, and look forward to what’s to come the next 25 years. And we’re looking for 25 Atlantic Canadians to help lead this celebration.
Find out how you can be part of our story. Eyes front.
And we’re looking for 25 patrons to help lead this celebration. With a $1000 tax deductible donation you will propel Eastern Front Theatre securely into the next quarter century, ensuring our stories continue to be told.
The 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame
We are honouring the many people who have contributed over 25 years to Eastern Front's journey.
There are hundreds of people behind the scenes: volunteers, sponsors, board members, artists. We applaud each and every one of you. Without your investment (whether it be financial or with sweat and tears,) Eastern Front Theatre would not be here today, celebrating this important milestone.
We thank you.
We asked the four previous Artistic Producers of EFT (Mary Vingoe, Hans Boggild, Scott Burke, Charlie Rhindress) to help compile the first ever EFT Hall of Fame.
These individuals stand out in a sea of notable contributors. We honour 25 people here who have gone above and beyond!
Just click on their photos and below you will find information about our Hall of Famers.
Click on each person to view their bio!
Charlie Rhindress is an actor, writer, director and producer who has worked in theatre for over thirty years. He was born and raised in Amherst, NS and educated at Mount Allison University. As a co-founder and former Artistic Director of Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, NB, he was involved in more than eighty productions for the company during a twenty-year period.
He then worked at Neptune Theatre as Director of Education and Associate Artist before beginning his four-year term as Artistic Producer of Eastern Front Theatre. Charlie’s career focus has been primarily on the development and support of Atlantic Canadian Theatre, receiving a lifetime membership in Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre for his work. He has acted or directed at theatres across the country and appeared in a number of films and television programs, including Trailer Park Boys, Mr. D., Red Rover and Haven. His fifteen full-length plays have been produced at theatres throughout Canada including Neptune Theatre, Theatre Orangeville, Ship’s Co, Mulgrave Road, and Theatre NorthWest. His two published scripts are The Maritime Way of Life, which was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award as Best New Play, and Flying On Her Own, based on the life of Rita MacNeil. He worked closely with MacNeil on the development of the latter, incorporating over twenty of her songs. Charlie then wrote a biography of MacNeil, I’m Not What I Seem, which was a #1 Bestseller in Nova Scotia.
He currently resides in Dorchester, NB where he is at work on a biography of Stompin’ Tom Connors. Charlie is is a very proud father of four.
Thoughts about EFT - I was thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Eastern Front Theatre for four years. During my time there I was happy to focus on close partnerships with a number of theatre companies, either presenting or co-producing work with Neptune Theatre, Zuppa Theatre, HomeFirst Productions, Blue Munday Productions, 2b Theatre, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival and Halifax Theatre for Young People. It was my great honour to work with so many talented artists and technicians to produce new work from some of Canada’s most talented theatre artists including Mary Vingoe, Michael Melski and Wendy Lill.
Jennie King is currently the Managing Director and Executive Producer of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. Her experience in not-for-profit marketing has led to increased brand awareness for the various cultural institutions, including eight years as Director of Marketing and Sales for Neptune Theatre as well as a Board Chair to Eastern Front Theatre, Downtown Halifax Business Commission, Argyle Entertainment District and View Point Gallery. Jennie currently serves on the board of directors at Alderney Landing. Jennie is a busy wife and mother to Ozzie, age 16 and Genevieve, age 10 and resides in Cow Bay. Eastern Front Theatre is one of Jennie’s fondest volunteer experiences and she’s thrilled to be recognized amongst a stellar group of Hall of Fame members. Happy 25th Anniversary EFT!
A true Maritimer, Anne grew up in NB, studied in Antigonish, married an Islander and has lived in Halifax since 1970. She taught for 32 years and regularly volunteered with several organizations. Being a long-time Docent at AGNS helps to carry on her love of teaching. Other interests include art, photography,books, travel, feminism and of course, theatre.
Anne has been an EFT Board member during the tenure of the last 4 Artistic Producers and is the proud recipient of a 2011 Merritt Award for volunteer work. Whether attending meetings, stuffing envelopes, fund-raising or doing whatever is needed (while providing muffins and/or wine!), she enjoys being even a small part of the magic that is live theatre.
“During my tenure on the Board, I have enjoyed being associated with many fine productions… so many wonderful memories!
From CORVETTE CROSSING (2006) to the upcoming LULLABY - INSIDE THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION and so many in between, EFT has fulfilled it’s mandate.
Our East coast stories are the best and we know how to tell them well.
Working with Hans, Scott, Charlie, Jeremy and all the board members and volunteers who have supported their visions has been an honour and a pleasure. I look forward to Eastern Front Theatre’s bright future."
Jessica has been happy to work with Eastern Front Theatre for 13 years in various positions. Most notably she has been with the Stages Theatre Festival (formally SuperNova, formally On The Waterfront) since 2004 in a TD/PM position. Based in Halifax NS, Jessica fills her time working with EFT and other local theatre companies, and performs as Cactus Flower and in Dark for Dark.
Denyse has been designing sets, projections and costumes in Canadian theatre for over 30 years. She is a graduate of the Ryerson Theatre School and has her BFA from NSCAD University. She has received many Dora Mavor Moore nominations and awards, a Chalmers Award and four Merritt Awards (Nova Scotia Theatre Award) for Outstanding Set, Projection and Costume designs. Select Recent Credits: The Watershed (Crow’s Theatre/Porte Parole); Onegin (Musical Stage Company); Das Ding (Theatre Smash/Canadian Stage); You Will Remember Me (Tarragon/Studio180); Art, The Mountaintop (Grand Theatre - London); Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, NSFW (Studio 180); Her2, The Carousel, The Penelopiad, Happy Woman, The List (Nightwood); Twisted, Stop Heart (Factory Theatre); The Winter's Tale (Canadian Stage); Top Girls (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre). www.denysekarn.com
"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world."
- Philip Pullman
As current Chair of the Board of Eastern Front Theatre, I am proud to play a small role in the continuation of a theatre company dedicated to the development, production, and promotion of Atlantic Canadian theatre artists.
As a Haligonian by birth and choice, my first theatre experiences were being taken to Neptune Theatre by my father. My love for the arts was born. It was at a Neptune Open House where I initially connected to Eastern Front; eventually answering the call to join their board. Working with Eastern Front Theatre during its 25th anniversary year makes me very aware of the legacy of all of the hard work my predecessors have put in to get EFT to this stage. Thank you to each and every one of you.
In my professional life working at C100, Virgin Radio and CTV, I offer clients the opportunity to tell their stories. In working with Eastern Front, my job is to offer the platform for artists to tell their stories and hopefully ignite a love for the arts in their audiences like it was ignited in me.
Tessa Mendel has directed plays at theatres in Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, including Where Poppies Blow, God’s Middle Name and The Gravesavers for Halifax Theatre for Young People, Gut Lovely Sounds of Destruction for NotaBle Acts, Bitter Rose, at the Sarasvrati Festival, Winnipeg, which was filmed for BRAVO TV’s Singular Series, and the premiere of Bone Cage for Forerunner’s and Ship’s Company, Nova Scotia. Other directing credits include Upstart Theatre, Halifax; The Grand Theatre, London, Ontario and The Theatre Centre, Toronto. Tessa has taught and directed at universities including Acadia, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Mount Saint Vincent University and Dalhousie University. She has worked as a community-based theatre facilitator in many contexts, both locally and internationally (Jamaica, Ethiopia) and was the founding director of a company that created plays with, by and for youth in Toronto’s public housing communities. Tessa was the founding director of the Women’s Theatre and Creativity Centre in Halifax and is the Artistic Director of Halifax Theatre for Young People, which she co-founded with Chris Heide. Tessa received Creative Nova Scotia’s Established Artist Award in 2014 and her book, Using the Creative Arts for Transformational Learning, has recently been published.
"Collaborating with Charlie Rhindress and EFT to revive the family portion of Stages Festival was so worthwhile both for me and for Halifax Theatre for Young People. Next Stages Theatre Festival for Families supported local productions for young people and also Write Stuff, our annual play development program, which has played an unprecedented role in the development of a body of new local work for young audiences. EFT's role in partnering with other theatre companies and supporting playwrights and new plays is an indispensable element in our region's cultural ecology - thank you and congratulations, EFT!"
I grew up in Sydney Nova Scotia, attended Dalhousie earning a BA and a Law Degree. I have practiced law with Nova Scotia Legal Aid, and represented my community in the House of Commons from 1997-2001. Married to Marian Borden Mancini, we have three children all of whom have been introduced to the theater. My introduction to Eastern Front came from my good friends Wendy Lill and Mary Vingoe. I knew about the company before I moved to Dartmouth in 2001 from Sydney, and when my name was suggested for the Board of Directors I said yes immediately. It was an adventure worthy of a script.
Within a year I was Chair of the Board, working with Hans Bogglid who was the artistic director of the company. We were operating out of Alderney Landing and, as is the case with most theater companies, working hard to create local work and fill the theater with patrons.
We ran into financial problems, with delays in funding from different levels of government and had to publicly challenge the Provincial government of the day. It rated a front-page article in the local newspaper, and led to a groundswell of community support. We mounted our play about Portia White and filled the house. We went on to have a successful season. They were amazing times, and we had a great company and a great board to support us.
I grew up in Sydney and was introduced to the Theater in large measure by Liz and Harry Boardmore, who used plays and theater as their teaching tool. Their motto came from Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better”. These words helped guide me as Chair of Eastern Front, an important cultural asset for Nova Scotia and Canada.
With a background as a manager for Halifax Public Libraries and a keen interest in the arts, Linda served as chair on the Eastern Front Theatre Board in the early 2000’s and worked with both Mary Vingoe and Hans Böggild. Highlights in those years included the production of three original Nova Scotia plays: “Portia White, First You Dream” by Lance Woolaver , “Satchmo Suite” by Hans Böggild, and “Bump” by Richard Merrill.
“It was an exciting time in Eastern Front’s history, though punctuated with the inevitable challenges of money, space and audiences. Coming from outside the theatre community, I was repeatedly impressed by the creative talent and indomitable spirit of our staff and actors - a strength which continues to this day, as seen in the company’s longevity and many outstanding productions. Congratulations Eastern Front!”
Derek is an executive with 30 years business experience working across the diverse areas of Distribution, Finance, Human Resource Management, Operations and Sales Management. He has a Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering from Technical University of Nova Scotia, an MBA from Saint Mary’s University and is a member of Engineers Nova Scotia.
Derek is President of Xecute Business Solutions Limited in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The consulting firm is focused on helping organizations achieve better results.
Derek has also served as:
- Core Team Member, 100 Men Who Give a Damn Halifax
- Chair of Eastern Front Theatre
- Mentor, Fusion Halifax
- Advisor, Entrepreneurs Forum Halifax
- Chair, Treasurer, Vice Chair – Capital Campaign, Ship’s Company Theatre
- Treasurer, Canadian Oil Heat Association – NS Chapter
Derek and his wife Anne live in Head of St. Margarets Bay with their two golden retrievers.
Independent consultant for the Arts
Gay has had an active career in theatre, dance and arts consultancy over the past 40 years in Nova Scotia. Prior to her move to the East Coast Gay lived in England and Ontario pursuing her education and working at the National Gallery of Canada as an Education Officer.
Gay has co-founded two theatre companies. Mary Vingoe, Wendy Lill and Gay started Eastern Front Theatre in 1992. Gay left Eastern Front in 2002 to return to her acting career but missed a weekly salary and was hired to manage Live Art Dance Productions in Halifax. She currently works as an Arts Consultant for Strategic Arts Management and as the Managing Producer of Symphony Nova Scotia’s The Nutcracker.
Gay has performed in theatre, film, television and radio over her career. She also continues to perform annually in The Nutcracker as a dancer.
As a doting Grandmother, Gay enjoys the swings and slides at Gorsebrook Park. She also serves as the Chair of the Masterworks Foundation, a board member of PARC, a mentor for Business and the Arts, the administrator for the Upstream Music Association and the Congregational Chair for All Saint’s Cathedral.
A life-long singer and pianist, Jeremiah Sparks was choir director and organist for Cherry Brook United Baptist Church for 20 years and directed the Nova Scotia Mass Choir for several years before moving to Toronto. Stage roles include the role of Mufasa in the Toronto production of Disney’s The Lion King. He has performed across the country in such memorable roles as Louis Armstrong (Satchmo Suite) and Lanier Phillips (Oil and Water) He was a member of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Company and the resident company of The National Arts Centre.He is a major performer in the world renown production of Drum. Jeremiah also performed as the lead role in in play named Cake for the Biyimba International Arts Festival in Uganda Africa. He also has many film and voice over credits including Across The Line (with Director X) and the children's animation Daniel Tigers Neighborhood. He is presently employed as an actor with the Shaw Festival. Eastern Front Theater has been one of my beautiful beginnings and I'm so grateful for the opportunities EFT has provided me!!!
His 2nd CD “Storms of Fear” is now available on iTunes .
I was Artistic Producer of EFT from 2002 to 2006. It was an amazing four years of producing, presenting, directing, developing scripts, building community and working with hundreds of theatre artists. If you count productions, presentations and fundraisers, we brought fifty theatrical events to the stage. There was always plenty to do! There was lots of joy and laughter in the midst of all the hard work. We especially enjoyed our box office hits, including “The Satchmo’ Suite”, “Bump”, “Corvette Crossing” and “Portia White – First You Dream.” I’m very proud to have been a part of the company’s history. Happy 25th anniversary Eastern Front Theatre!
Louisa Adamson served as Eastern Front Theatre’s Production Manager/ Technical Director for 11 years from 2002 to 2013, working with 3 Artistic Directors, two home venues, a national tour and participation in Canada’s Magnetic North Theatre Festival in St. Johns. Louisa is grateful to have worked with so many talented people for so many years from the EFT Staff and crew to the incredible artists and designers involved in the Season Performances as well as the annual spring performance festival (On the waterfront to Supernova to Stages Theatre Festival). The relationships and skills acquired from working with Eastern Front Theatre have carried throughout her career and are still important today.
Wishing Eastern Front Theatre a Happy 25th Anniversary!
Here’s to the next 25 years!
Louisa is a production manager, event producer & designer, stage manager, collaborator & technician. As General Manager of the Spatz Theatre & Resident SM/PM for 2b theatre company, Louisa is delighted to be a part of the local and national theatre community, creating work at home and touring to national and international stages. Current and past collaborators include: Accidental Mechanics Group, Kazan Co-op, Misery Loves (theatre) Company, Secret Theatre, Zuppa Theatre Co., Eastern Front Theatre, Neptune Theatre and The Atlantic Film Festival. Recipient of the Scotland Herald ‘Little Devil’ award 2014 Edinburgh Fringe & 3 Merritt Awards (Lighting Design, Set Design and Stage Management). A Graduate of the Technical Scenography Program at Dalhousie University. Founder of Production Resources, Co-Founder of The New Science & Board Member of the Legacy Centre. Louisa is based in Halifax N.S, Canada & often tours across North America and overseas.
Paul O’Regan grew up in the automobile business in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, where his father operated dealerships dating back to 1915. After completing studies at Saint Francis Xavier and Dalhousie Universities, Paul pursued an eight-year teaching career before setting up a used car lot and leasing business in Dartmouth in 1974. In 1981 he was joined by his brother, Steve O’Regan, and the two brothers expanded the business to become the largest automotive group in the region which included eighteen new car franchises in Halifax, Dartmouth and Bridgewater including three Toyota, two Hyundai, two Kia, two Nissan, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Subaru as well as an all makes leasing business, two used car super centres, three detailing centres, a NAPA AutoPro, car rentals and a collision centre.
Paul was highly respected in the automotive industry and served on national advisory boards for General Motors, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan. He also served as a past president and director of the Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Association. In 2006, Paul was honoured with the first prestigious Ambassador Laureate Award from the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association for his extraordinary service to the industry and his community.
Paul believed very strongly in helping others and in building our community, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to local charities and community groups. He was a strong supporter of the arts, education and healthcare. He was a member of the board for Eastern Front’s capital campaign committee, a member of the board of directors for the Alderney Landing Cultural and Convention Centre and he and his brother Stephen co-chaired the capital campaign committee to build Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.
He also led the fundraising committee to establish the Centre for Ethics and Public Affairs and was an inaugural member of the board for Phoenix and helped establish the first Phoenix House in Halifax. He was a member of the board of governors for Junior Achievement and a member of the executive for the board of governors for St. Francis Xavier University. He was a past vice president of the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation and a past director of Nova Scotia Resources Limited.
Paul passed away in 2012 but his legacy continues. O’Regan’s has continued to grow under the leadership of Paul’s two sons.
O’Regan’s has been recognized nationally and regionally for excellence in management, culture, customer service, ethics, philanthropy and family business with the following awards: Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies; Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures; Canadian Autoworld Employer of Choice; Consumer Choice Award winner for New & Pre-Owed Car Dealer; Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics; Corporate Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals; Family Enterprise of the Year for Canada from the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise; and Eco-Efficiency Centre’s Excellence in Business Award.
MARY VINGOE is a well-known figure in Canadian Theatre. A director, Artistic Director, Festival Director, playwright, teacher and actor who has worked across the country, Vingoe is celebrated for co-founding four major theatre companies in Canada. She is the founding Artistic Director of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival at Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa. She is a co-founder and past Artistic Director of Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre, a co-founder and past co-Artistic Director of Ship’s Co. Theatre in Parrsboro, NS and a co-founder and past Artistic Director of The Eastern Front Theatre in Halifax.
Recent directing credits include Wendy Lill's The Glace Bay Miner's Museum for the National Arts Centre and Neptune Theatre, Catherine Banks’ Governor General's Award winning, It Is Solved by Walking, the world premiere of Wendy Lill's Messenger for Homefirst and Eastern Front, Christopher Marlowe's Edward ii for UBC's Theatre and Film and Susan Coyne's Kingfisher Days for Festival Antigonish.
Vingoe is also a noted Canadian playwright. Her play Refuge about the fate of an Eritrean refugee claimant to Canada, premiered in Halifax at Eastern Front Theatre in 2013 has received productions across the country. Refuge, published by Scirocco Press, was a finalist for the Nova Scotia Masterworks Award and was short listed for the 2016 Governor General's Award for Drama.
Mary Vingoe is the recipient of the Portia White Award for artistic excellence and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contribution to Canadian theatre.
Nancy Morgan has been working as an administrator and Board volunteer in non-profit arts sector for 25 years. She is currently the Executive Director of Theatre Nova Scotia, a consultant with Strategic Arts Management (SAM) and a private music teacher. Nancy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in music from Queen’s University and an MBA from St. Mary’s University. Nancy is Chair of the Board of SAM, Board Treasurer for Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Performing Arts Lodge Halifax, and Upstream Music Association. She serves on the Board of the Legacy Centre for the Performing Arts Board and the Cultural Federations of Nova Scotia.
Nancy has a particular fondness for Eastern Front Theatre – evidenced by the fact that she cannot seem to escape. Currently assisting the company as General Manager Consult through SAM, Nancy also spent 4 seasons partnering with Scott Burke from 2007 to 2011. Originally welcomed to Eastern Front Theatre by Mary Vingoe, Gay Hauser and Wendy Lill in 1998, Nancy spent 4 seasons with the company at that time. On occasion, it seems like yesterday that my pre-school age boys drove Matchbox cars all around the King St office while I worked.
In trying to decide upon a past production of EFT that was a favourite, it was actually obvious to me that what I truly treasure the most are the people I met and the friendships of my time there. Many thanks to Derek, Scott, Lisa, Denise, Mary, Gay and Wendy for the most spectacular home care support team anyone could every ask for. Most importantly, special thanks to Gay, Wendy and Mary for making me not part of a company in 1998, but part of their families. Almost 20 years later, my sons and I still look forward to every holiday feast together with them. Happy Anniversary, Eastern Front!
Leigh Ann Vardy
A lighting designer based in Halifax, Leigh Ann has been working with Eastern Front since its early days. She first worked with Mary Vingoe and Gay Hauser while at Ships’ Company when she was a young technician with dreams of designing. They took a chance on her and brought her into the Eastern Front family, for which she will always be grateful. She has designed lights for many Eastern Front shows over the years. Some highlights include Sisters, Whylah Falls, Portia White, First You Dream, Fighting Days, Satchmo Suite, Corvette Crossing, and Refuge.
Leigh Ann designs lights with theatres across the country. Recently she designed with National Arts Centre, Stratford Festival, Artistic Fraud, 2b, and Neptune. She has toured shows through the US, Japan, New Zealand, and Tasmania, and is an instructor and coach at National Theatre School.
The artists she has worked with at Eastern Front have been a great influence on who she is as a designer, with a passion for new work and for nurturing young talent.
For the past five years Scott has built a successful consulting firm specializing in arts, culture, heritage and other not-for-profit organizations. As the Lunenburg Academy Development Coordinator Scott is leading the repurposing of one of Canada’s most prized pieces of iconic architecture, converting the former school and National, Provincial and Municipal Heritage site into a vibrant Community Cultural Centre. For Business for the Arts Scott is Program Director of the artsVest Nova Scotia sponsorship training and matching incentive funding program, and he is also the Partnership Manager for FIN – Atlantic International Film Festival.
Scott is an award-winning artistic producer, festival curator, administrator, playwright and director with a distinguished career in theatre and not-for-profit management. Scott has served as Artistic Producer for Eastern Front Theater, Theatre New Brunswick and Ship’s Company Theatre, as well as Executive Director of the East Coast Music Association. Over the course of two decades Scott built a reputation for the financial and artistic revitalization of organizations at critical points in their trajectories. Scott holds a BA from Dalhousie University and an MFA from Penn State University.
Jacqueline Throop-Robinson is the founder of Spark Engagement Inc. (www.sparkengagementindex.com), a global analytics company in HR technology solutions focusing on employee engagement. Her work focuses on inspiring individuals and groups to achieve those goals that matter most by connecting people to meaning and a sense of progress.
Represented by the National Speakers Bureau, Jacqueline shares thought-provoking insights, research and actionable advice on creating passionately engaged workplaces. Jacqueline has also published an Amazon best seller, Fire Up Your Team: 50 Ways for Leaders to Connect, Collaborate and Create with their Teams (2013).
Jacqueline holds a BA, BFA, and MA as well as qualifications in adult education from StFX. Jacqueline has worked in the learning and development field as well as corporate management for 30 years. Her clients have included a wide-range of industries around the world from Australia to Singapore to Bermuda to Romania. Her clients describe her as a “superb facilitator” who is “trustworthy”, “energetic”, and “creative”.
Outside of her work, Jacqueline has co-founded Inspiring Women Nova Scotia (http://www.inspiringwomenns.ca/), a network of professional women, who speak with high school girls to help them move beyond occupational stereotypes, to ignite aspirations, and to set a course of self-determination. Previously, Jacqueline volunteered with EFT and assumed the position of Chair of the Board for two seasons in the mid-2000s.
Jacqueline currently lives in Antigonish, NS with her partner, Evan, and her two children, Taylor and Jamie.
“In Atlantic Canada, we are accustomed to viewing plays from other places and sources. EFT offers an opportunity for our own talented playwrights, directors, actors, and production experts to give voice to our own stories. EFT plays a critical role in helping us understand our history, our values and our ways of being, uplifting and inspiring us to create and contribute further to this very special place.”
Bio coming soon.
WENDY LILL is a playwright and former parliamentarian who has written extensively for radio, theatre and film. Lill is the author of The Fighting Days, (1983) The Occupation of Heather Rose, (1985) Memories of You, (1988) Sisters, (1989) All Fall Down, (1993) Corker, (1998) Glace Bay Miners’ Museum, (based on short story by Sheldon Currie) (1995), Chimera (2007)) and most recently Messenger (2015). Her plays are produced in professional and community theatres and universities across Canada and internationally. All of her plays are published by Talon Books. The Occupation of Heather Rose, All Fall Down, Corker and Glace Bay Miners’ Museum have been nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Drama. Glace Bay Miners’ Museum has been translated into Japanese and performed in Japan. It was also been translated into French and won Les Masque Award, L‘Academie Quebecois du Theatre Award, 1998 for translation and adaptation. Memories of You has been translated to French and produced in Montreal (1993). The Occupation of Heather Rose has been translated into Danish and most recently, Czech. It has been published in a recent Anthology of Czech Translation (2015) and will have a staged reading this spring in Prague. Her plays Sisters and Memories of You have been adapted to television for the Stage on Screen series. Her work has also resulted in two ACTRA awards, a Golden Sheaf Award (for film Ikwe), and a New York Festival International Radio Programs and Promotions Award in 2011 for the popular radio drama series Backbencher. Based on her experiences as a Member of Parliament, Lill created Backbencher and was the head writer for the CBC series. (2009-2011). In 2011, Lill received the Merritt Legacy Award for her contributions to theatre in Nova Scotia and Canada. Her latest play, Messenger, inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, premiered in 2015 at Neptune’s Scotia Bank Studio Theatre, a co-production of HomeFirst and Eastern Front Theatres. In 2015, Messenger was nominated for 3 Merritt awards, including best play.
Lill was born in Vancouver and grew up in London Ontario. She completed a BA in political science at York University in Toronto. Lill lived in Winnipeg from 1979 until 1984 doing freelance radio documentary work for CBC and School Broadcasts. During this time, she began writing plays and developed a productive association with Prairie Theatre Exchange and its artistic director, Kim McCaw. In 1988, Lill moved to Dartmouth Nova Scotia with her husband Richard Starr where she began another important artistic collaboration with artistic director, Mary Vingoe. In 1993, Lill co-founded the Eastern Front Theatre Company in Dartmouth with Mary Vingoe and Gay Hauser.
In 1997, Lill was elected as Member of Parliament for Dartmouth and re-elected in 2000 for a second term. During that time, she was the NDP critic for heritage and culture and persons with disabilities. Many of her views have been informed by her experience living with and advocating for her son with a disability. Lill lives in Dartmouth with Richard and is delighted to have their sons, Joe and Sam (and two sweet grandsons) living just a few blocks away.
Mary joined the staff of EFT in June, 2001, for what was supposed to be a term of one year. She was hired to work that summer on boosting season subscribers (got it to nearly 200!) and then to be Box Office Manager (EFT experimented with doing its own box office).
Mary worked with Mary Vingoe at the artistic helm that first season. The first production was Alistair MacLeod's Island, adapted and directed by Hans Böggild. The theatre bug bit! Fast forwarding to the summer of 2002, Mary became a permanent staffer as EFT's Office Administrator/Bookeeper. Unfortunately, due to financial problems, the first production of the 2002-2003 season had to be cancelled but Mary manned the fort until Hans Böggild arrived from Vancouver to take on the role of Artistic Producer.
The next five years, the last with Scott Burke as Artistic Producer, were... well, they were the best of times and the worst of times. There were so very,very many wonderful productions and presentations of which Mary is extremely proud to have been a part of! And, also, there were so many nail-biting, hair-pulling, gut-wrenching times during which Mary would somehow manage to get through by launching into a rousing rendition of Ethel Merman's There's no business like show business.
Still working in not-for-profit and all the challenges that brings, for the last ten years Mary has been the Office Administrator/Bookkeeper for the Bide Awhile Animal Shelter Society in Dartmouth. She is truly honoured to be acknowledged as one of Eastern Front Theatre's 25th Anniversary Hall of Famers. Long live EFT!
Andrew Deacon is the Operations Manager at Neptune Theatre. Andrew has worked collaboratively with Eastern Front Theatre since 2010. He was the original proponent and contract authority for the move of EFT into their current premises on Barrington Street. For the past seven years, he has been involved in the promotion, co-production and presentation of EFT work on behalf of Neptune Theatre and has been the coordinator for EFT's rental activity at Neptune. He has regularly sponsored discussion and consideration of EFT products during season planning at Neptune that led to their successful inclusion in past season line-ups. He was instrumental in the identification and eventual selection of two EFT productions in the current season. Andrew is a supporter and consumer of EFT productions and can regularly be found at the bar on opening nights.
Founding EFT chair and occupant for nine years Paul’s "chequered" career includes time as a teacher-principal-superintendent (N.S. and Alberta), 1st Chief of Curriculum (Yellowknife, NWT gov't.), Senior Research Associate (Halifax, Atlantic Institute of Ed.), teacher of university-aged brains at the University of Cape Breton, S.F.U., Western. He was the originator of the National Book Festival (Canada Arts Council) , for whom he was the Atlantic Co-Ordinator from start to finish. He’s an author (After Survival; Where Our Survival Lies), editor (children's books; textbooks,) playwright (2014, Never A Syllable: War of 1812). He was an assistant to Premier John Savage and is currently completing: "The Accidental Premier: The Life and Times of John Savage." Paul wrote the original proposal for the N.S. Arts Council for the Savage gov't. Not shy of upsetting the status quo, Paul was the campaign manager of the very first N.D.P. elected in Alberta!
“I've been fortunate to be where the action was in terms of the arts, First Nations' initiatives (especially in the N.W.T./arctic) cultural developments locally and nationally when so much we now take for granted was in its seminal stages. I have had the support of wife Elaine, two sons, one daughter, their partners and seven grand children. I have lived on the Dartmouth hillside "looking down" on Halifax since 1974 and our flower gardens are the passion of humming birds, cardinals, gold finches, blue jay peanut gluttons and a family of five raccoons.
“Headquarters” for the EFT was on the second floor warehouse in an obscure Dartmouth industrial park. The nearest signs of life came from the arena next door and the Dartmouth General Hospital’s parking lot. There were no complaints from the EFT. The luxury of free space arranged by a sympathetic politician who understood the perils of sustaining artistic endeavours was steps ahead of meeting in a kitchen after the children were off to school and partners were occupied elsewhere. Someday there would be a sign to locate EFT’s location but for now anonymity was a plus as there were no chairs to sit on and only a make shift table to lean against when preparing the next funding request to the Canada Arts Council. The lack of furnishings was a temporary inconvenience. Eventually, the Premier with the passion for the arts would be hounded from office but never one to give up without a parting reminder of his lasting support , he donated office chairs, tables, coffee maker to the EFT cause. Now, there were padded seats for those who found their way to the Woodside address and dropped in offering encouragement, time to volunteer and money to help keep the “idea” alive of a professional theatre company in Dartmouth.
The atmosphere within the “open concept” office was electric with possibilities. How could it have been otherwise? The movers and shakers, the crème de la crème of the theatre community were in session. Wendy Lill, Gay Hauser and Mary Vingoe were the guiding lights. They were gifted with much more than merely passion for a good idea. They had enviable resumes of writing, directing, performing, organizing and launching professional theatre in improbable locations like Guysborough and Parrsboro. Why not Dartmouth?
It would have expedited getting productions up and running if a suitable theatre space had been available on the east side of the harbour. Such was not the case. Something modest but minimally equipped with the necessary lighting, film and sound technology, dressing rooms, and comfortable seating would be a start. With these considerations included in a multi-purpose facility, an ambitious “Lighthouse” proposal for an “arts and cultural centre” was prepared by the Chair and his collaborators for presentation to the local Member of Parliament. The EFT submission was timely. Dartmouth’s waterfront needed a major addition to revive its fortunes, something to complement its library, offices, restaurant, ferry terminal and City Hall. “The Lighthouse” proposal launched the multi-faceted Alderney Landing. Included was a theatre with the necessary amenities for professional productions. EFT had its home. Dartmouth’s waterfront was rejuvenated. Four years had come and gone – from “kitchen cabinet sessions” to opening night the future for professional theatre in Dartmouth seemed unlimited. It was the best of times!