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Showing posts from December, 2013

Linda Abbott’s The Hull Home Fire

In October, Newfoundland author Linda Abbott released her sophomore effort, The Hull Home Fire (Flanker Press), the gripping account of the deadly 1948 inferno at a private hospital for the aged and infirm in her hometown of St. John’s. Recently AE spoke with her about the book and all things literary.
What motivated and/or inspired you to write this book? LA: Newfoundland's history has always fascinated me as it is filled with tragic events that shaped the people. My mother witnessed the fire in 1948 and mentioned it to me. I had never heard of it and neither had anyone else I spoke to. I was quite shocked by this as thirty-four people died in the fire which took place in St. John's where I was born and raised. I felt writing a fictional story around the actual fire would bring to light one of the most devastating fires in the history of the island.
Did the work come together quickly or did you really need to work at it? LA: Once I had researched all the facts the story fell into…

Holiday Perspectives ~ Anna Quon

Our next guest writer is author and poet Anna Quon. Now a practicing Baha’i, she describes some of her Faith’s holy days observed this time of year, and how she continues to be “spellbound” by Christmas.
Magic, Holy Days By Anna Quon
As a child growing up in a culturally-casual, agnostic family, I was still caught up in the magic of Christmas. The actual holiday usually deteriorated into a tired, sugar-fueled, stress-encrusted bicker fest and ended with disappointment and headaches, but the period of anticipation, lasting a month or more sparkled and shone. I loved staring into the Christmas tree, where glass balls hung like planets against a galaxy of coloured lights, the evergreen scent to be forever associated in my mind with star fire.  I religiously studied the Sears Christmas Wish Book, and prayed silently to the empty sky for snow.
Now that I am in the middle of my life, I thank my parents for their tolerant approach to a Christian holiday for which there was no real good reason fo…

Holiday Perspectives ~ Eliot Wright

In this next Holiday Perspective guest post, we hear from Halifax-based photographer and visual artist, Eliot Wright. He shares what he misses most from Christmases growing up in Newfoundland.
The Family Tree By Eliot Wright
Growing up in Newfoundland, I never once bought a Christmas tree.
I don’t remember how young I was when I cut my first tree, but I expect I wasn’t much older than four. Who did the cutting—whether it was my father or I—well, it didn’t really matter; it was the hunt and the connection to nature that was most important. I expect it was dad who did the cutting in those early years, and it was I who was left to bushwhack our way through the snowy woods. I revel in the family story of my mother collecting me from my father’s house at age two, only to find me “playing” with an axe in the back yard. Sounds frightening, but I’m sure the reality was much less alarming than the tale. Nonetheless, I have felt accustomed with such tools from an early age.

The Christmas tree hunt b…

Holiday Perspectives ~ Robin McGrath

In the first of our Holiday Perspective guest post series, we hear from author and artist, Robin McGrath. Before celebrating Hanukkah this year, she was tasked to explore a Labradorian Christmas tradition.
A Writer’s Christmas in Labrador By Robin McGrath
Hanukkah came early this year, beginning at sundown on November 27th.  It’s particularly early in Labrador where the nights are long and the sun sets in the middle of the afternoon.
Hanukkah was always a pretty low key event in our house.  We ate latkes—potato pancakes—and the kids played poker and dreidels and other games of chance.  And of course we lit the candles each night and sang the Maoz Tzur.
Now, with the kids grown and gone and the grandchildren far away to the south, it’s even lower key.  We still do the candles but the heart-valve clogging latkes are limited to the first night only.  Ours is the only Jewish household for literally hundreds of kilometers.
Christmas came early this year also—the first and only time we had a Chr…

Special Thanks

We would like to say a special thank you to soprano Nicole Jordan, mixed media artist Tara Arnold, book publishers Flanker Press and the National Film Board for donating holiday gifts to our Arts East’s writers.
Since Arts East is currently volunteer-run, we wanted to find a way to reward the nine writers who this year contributed their time and talent to cover Atlantic Canadian art stories and events. Thanks for recognizing this group of fine contributors with your generosity and artistic/creative presents! 

Nicole Jordan is a classical singer born who was born in Trinidad and raised in Halifax. She specializes in chamber music, early music, and art song repertoire.
Her Christmas album,Solstice includes traditional songs spiced up with her rich and soaring voice, lively percussion, and Spanish guitar.  It is available online at iTunes: and CDs are available at TAZ Records on Grafton Street, Halifax NS: ht…

Holiday Gift Marketplace

Welcome to Arts East’s Holiday Gift Marketplace!

Over 25 Atlantic Canadian artists, musicians, authors, craftspeople and organizations have shared their creations for your gift giving desires. They are displayed in random order to encourage you to check out the diversity of talent.

Ten Years Scrooge

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Halifax thespian Jeremy Webb reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge again this holiday season with his one-man production of Dickens’ beloved classic A Christmas Carol. Recently he spoke with AE about the production touring to numerous towns.
What are your own childhood memories of A Christmas Carol? JW: I do recall seeing the famous Alastair Sim version, of course. In the UK, A Christmas Carol is everywhere... I remember reading the book too! It’s just a classic. I am blessed to speak the words.
Why the decision to take on the role in such a unique manner ten years ago? JW: Ha! Originally, it was purely a 'make-work' project. I thought I'd just do a semi-staged reading, but the old theatre hack in me couldn't resist staging it in a more complete form. Very quickly it became a full show. Over the years it has just grown and grown. The words are just a treat to say, that the 'actor' in me just gets very excited each time I get to sa…

New Animal

Vancouver’s 605 Collective returns to Halifax this weekend with three performances of high-energy, hip-hop infused dance. With choreography by Dana Gingras, New Animal features a beast of a cast that devours the stage with urgency and defiance. Recently AE caught up with the troupe’s artistic director Josh Martin.

When and why did you first become interested in dance? JM: All of us became interested in dance between the ages of 5 and 10. I started because my brother was in dance (and then quite shortly after I joined). Lisa was put in dance because she was so shy and her parents wanted her to explore physicality as a means of communication, and to be more extraverted. We all ended up in studios doing all forms from ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, to musical theatre. 
Are they the same reasons that you continue to be involved today? JM: We all started at a very young age, so the reasons have evolved and changed, but fundamental ideas like self-expression, imagination and creativity are…

Mavor Moore’s A Christmas Carol to play at the Charlottetown Confederation Centre

From December 13 to 21st, Charlottetown’s Confederation Centre of the Arts presents Mavor Moore’s musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol! The production, featuring over 52 actors and a full orchestra, is presented in partnership with Holland College School of Performing Arts (20 dance and performing arts students are included in the elaborate cast!)Special treats include Wade Lynch, the Confederation Centre’s associate art director, playing Scrooge and Liz Gilroy directing and choreographing.

Gilroy is no stranger to the Centre as during the 90s she played Dianna Barry in Anne of Green Gables for three Charlottetown Festival seasons! We caught up with the theatre artist to find out more about her intriguing experiences and what audiences can expect from the December holiday production.

How did you first get into the world of theatre and what have been some highlights? LG: I started performing professionally at the age of 12. My first show was Oliver in Toronto. After that I was hooked.…

Town Heroes

What do you get when you mash-up Scottish, Irish and French heritage, a guitar and a set of drums? One of Atlantic Canada’s most influential new alt-rock power duos, The Town Heroes. In this interview, frontman Mike Ryan talks about the band’s past, present and future.

What is your own ethnic heritage? MR: I’m 25% Irish, 50% Scottish and 25% French. My band-mate, Bruce Gillis, comes from Campbell and Gillis genes so he’s a true Scotsman.
When and why did you start playing music? MR: I started playing music when I was about 13 years old. My father always listened to good, classic rock and I wanted to try to play along to Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and stuff like that. Once I started to play, I fell in love with the guitar. I started writing songs as soon as I knew a few chords, and it hasn’t stopped since then.
Are they the same reasons you do it today? MR: The love for music is definitely still as strong today as it ever was. I feel a need to be creative and capture the ideas I have, the th…