Guest Blog #2!

It’s time for Guest Blog Post #2!

Since our last blog post, we’ve been through Grand Falls-Windsor, Fogo Island, Grand Bank, and are now writing from our last stop on the tour, Clarenville.

We didn’t have a show in Grand Falls-Windsor, but did have a full day off to explore. Evan sent out a Facebook call for recommended places to eat, and Kumar’s was mentioned multiple times. Once we finally rolled out of bed (being that it was our first chance to really sleep in), we decided to breakfast-lunch-and-dinner at Kumar’s, and we were certainly not disappointed. We were all craving some Indian food by this point so we ordered as much as we could: onion bahjia, vegetable pakora, garlic naan, butter naan, stuffed naan, chicken tikka, chicken masala, beef saagwala, chicken madras curry, and large amounts of rice with pretty pink bits.

guest2 kumar's

#givemecurry #givemesnacks

It was the most delicious Indian food any of us have ever eaten, made fresh for us by the nicest chef, and we had enough to bring home for a large supper. We begged her to open a restaurant in St. John’s, as is her wish. After lunch we headed over to the bowling alley to find that there was a massive bowling league there that afternoon, so we had to take a few hours off to digest and went back later to an empty bowling alley. We donned our Ninja Turtle alter egos and Raphael, after repeatedly dropping the ball, kicked our butts twice. We then accidentally found an arcade room, where Michelangelo won a bunch of gumballs and Donatello rocked the pinball machine. Leonardo was overcome by the $22 leggings sold at the bowling alley.

guest2 bowling

#givemestrikes #givemegumballs #givemeTMNT

Fogo Island was our next endeavour. Wow.

That’s almost all we can say about our time there.

First of all, it’s gorgeous, the people are lovely, the school was great, and we got to stay in a really fantastic house.

AND, we picked up a new tour groupie – Producer Kat! She joined us in Fogo Island with our school touring kit (lights & speakers, since we had been presenting in theatres until this point).

Since we were staying in a house, Mama Huckle Jr. cooked us our first home cooked meal of the tour – spaghetti bolognaise on shell pasta, sans spaghetti. Our show was the next morning (Friday), followed by a lovely lunch in armchairs at Flat Earth Coffee. We booked reservations for supper the next day at the Fogo Island Inn, and enjoyed the rest of the day off. Saturday was an exploring adventure day, and Kat took us around the island to Joe Batt’s Arm and Tilting. We didn’t see any seals (despite calling out to them), but the views almost made up for it.

guest2 fi

#givemeviews #givemeseals

That night, we enjoyed a fancy feast at the Fogo Island Inn. There aren’t really words to describe, but we’ll try.

It was all just amazing. Laura cried three times in sheer delight over every course and drink that appeared at our table. We were in awe as the chef came over to describe our meals, and we’re nearly took Donny, the bartender, home (collectively, as a group), after playing a few rounds of “invent that cocktail” following our meal. We loved every second of it.

guest2 fii

#givemetears #givemegut #givemeDonny #givemesnacks

The next day (Sunday), we got back on the ferry, said goodbye to Fogo Island, and began the long, long trek to Grand Bank.

Our motel was in a state of mid-renovation, and while we enjoyed the comfy beds and new bathrooms, we were mildly surprised and entertained by the lack of molding around the bathroom doors. But, we’ve spent enough time together on this tour that we were all pretty comfortable with each other by this point.

Everyone who has ever been to Grand Bank told us that we had to go to Sharon’s Nook for cheesecake – and so we did. Our first day there was a day off, so we drove over for breakfast, did a bit of exploring, and then returned for some of the best cheesecake we’ve ever had (which, we discovered, could be baked or unbaked), and got our crossword puzzle game on for the afternoon. We’re basically crossword plebes pros.

guest2 crosswords

#givemehints #givemebrains

Monday morning, we arrived at the school bright and early for our next show. We loaded in in record time, which gave us time to go back to Sharon’s Nook for brunch before the show.

John Burke High School was a fantastic audience (as all of our audiences have been!) and we got a standing ovation following the show, which felt really great. Speaking with the students afterwards, it was so rewarding to see the positive impact we had on them. For the millionth time, we were reminded of how important this message has been to each town we’ve visited.

We packed up (in record time again), and before driving to our last town of the tour, we stopped into Cashel’s Cove Crafts, a small store in Spanish Room owned and operated by the lovely Irene Hurley of the Burin Peninsula Arts Council (who brought us to Grand Bank!). We fell in love with all of her wares quite quickly and each of us left with a bag of goodies from her shop.

Now, we’re in Clarenville, enjoying a day off before our last show tomorrow afternoon at the Eastlink Events Centre. Our time off has mostly been spent eating (a lot), sleeping in, playing cards, doing crosswords, watching Matilda, and swimming in the hotel’s pool.

We’ll be sad to see the end of this tour. From traveling from town to town, and performing to over 2000 students and their teachers, it’s clear how important this piece is. While we’re all excited to get back home to our own beds, we’ve left pieces of our hearts in Bay Roberts, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador City, Stephenville, Grand Falls-Windsor, Fogo Island, Grand Bank, and Clarenville (and everywhere we stopped along the way). We’ve met some truly amazing people and have had some wonderful times. But, we’re sure that this isn’t the last of Give Me Back, and can’t wait to get our boxes back on the road again soon.

-Crystal, Evan, Laura (and Producer Kat)


John Burke High – Grand Bank

Hello, Internet, today is Wednesday, March 16th, and yesterday we performed for the senior high students at John Burke High School in Grand Bank.

GB set up

If you have been following closely, Internet, you may have noticed that the tour got substantially less busy after our two-show day in Stephenville. Since then, there has been multiple days with either nothing, or only a couple of hours of things to do.

The day we left Fogo Island, though, was not a day of little-to-nothing. We pulled ourselves out of bed at 7am the day that the clocks went forward (darn you, Daylight Savings Time!!), piled our belongings into the van, and went to catch the 9am ferry.

The Fogo Island ferry has been a subject of much pain and ire this winter, as their shiny new boat was pulled off its route, replaced by the old ferry, which then dropped a garbage truck in the ocean, etc etc. (See here, here, here, here and here for backstory if you like.) So it was with some trepidation that we approached the ferry terminal for the first trip after the new ferry’s return to service.

Other than a 45-minute delay for mechanical difficulties (not the best phrase to inspire confidence), we made it on board and crossed without incident. The new ferry is very snappy, with a coffee bar, cruise-ship style seating and, apparently, access to sunbathing on the roof.

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The rest of the day was spent driving. Nothing compared to the St. John’s-to-Stephenville snowstorm, but a bit of snow and a bit of rain accompanied us for 10 total hours of travel from (basically) the north end of the island to (basically) the south end of the island. We arrived in Grand Bank, ate supper and collapsed into our respective beds.

The next day was a day off, and also the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, so we bounced around Grand Bank a bit. A couple of us had grant applications due for March 15th, so there was some work done on other projects and the like.

Yesterday morning, we woke up still a bit bleary from the time change, lugged ourselves to Sharon’s Nook for coffee and bagels, and then went into the school to set up.

With an army of student volunteers led by Ms. Blackwood, we had the show loaded into the gym, set up, and leveled in just over 2 hours – a new record for us! We had to go back to Sharon’s for lunch. We love it there.

GB audience

All set up and already relaxed. Around 10am.

Around 1pm, about 100 students finished lunch and filed into the gym class by class. Mr. Masters, the school principal, introduced us, saying that a survey held with students earlier in the year had indicated a desire to see more work with student wellness. The social worker dealing with Mental Health and Addictions at the local hospital came to see the show and to speak with the students afterwards.

The performance went over extraordinarily well. Students loved it, and Mr. Masters commented to me that it was lovely to tick both theatre and mental health boxes with our performance. The helpfulness continued into our load out, as we spoke with many students one on one about the show and then had them help us load the van (we’re sneaky like that).

We packed up and came to Clarenville last night, where we are set to do our final performance of this tour tomorrow afternoon.

Fogo Island!

Hello, Internet, today is Saturday, March 12th, and yesterday we did a show for the junior high and high school aged students at Fogo Island Central Academy.

I have a long history with Fogo Island (for four years I worked for the Shorefast Foundation, and founded and ran a theatre company here), and I was excited to come out again, but there is something especially wonderful about bringing new people to this island so that they can see the stark beauty of the place, meet some of the best people, and enjoy living in a refurbished traditional house up against the wind.

So, on Thursday we left our hotel in Grand Falls-Windsor and came straight up to Farewell, where one catches the ferry. We were aiming for the 11:15am crossing, but were prepared to turn around and get lunch in Gander or Lewisporte if we couldn’t get on. As we pulled up to the booth, though, the ferry was docked and unloading, and we were the only ones wanting to get on, so on we got.

Fogo Island van on boat

The lone vehicle on the ferry.

It was a beautiful crossing and the ferry ride was spectacular.

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We arrived, found our house, and had time for lunch and a bit of an explore before heading to the school to load in after classes ended at 3pm.

Fogo Island brimstone head

Brimstone Head – the corner of the flat earth

We had a lovely experience at FICA. We were met by the Vice Principal, Guidance Counselor and 4 enthusiastic students who helped us put everything together. Within 3 hours, we had the show loaded in, set up, the sound and lighting levels fixed (school gyms are especially interesting for sound levels), and had run through a couple of pieces.

Fogo Island set up

Almost ready…

Fogo Island nap

Laura takes a rest before levels in the audience seating.

Yesterday, we awoke to a shockingly beautiful day. As usual, I was up far earlier than I wanted to be, but I set up a little kitchen office which is likely my favourite temporary office of the tour.

Fogo Island office space

Not bad at all.

We went into the school for 9:30 for the 11:05 show, taped down some cables, and generally were nervous (maybe that was just me) until the students started filing in.

Fogo Island ready to goThe show was lovely. About 100 students sat on those mats and watched very attentively.

At talk back, we had 3 workers from Central Health come and speak to the students. It seems that Fogo Island Central Academy works closely with the healthcare workers to promote mental health already: they have a committee between them, consisting of teachers, a student representative, and a public health nurse. It was wonderful to see that these students, who live in relative isolation (you do, after all, have to get in a boat to get here), are so supported in their own community.

Today is a day off, so I am set to visit some people I know and rarely see, while Crystal, Evan and Laura are left to their own devices to do some exploring.

Fogo Island the team goes exploring

Taken from the window of the house: my excellent cast & crew, running towards the ocean.

Based on their enthusiasm yesterday, I think they will have a successful time of it.