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The wild west is coming to a Ridgeville barn

Foster Festival play has rural Pelham venue this summer
The interior of a Ridgeville barn is being transformed for a play.  From left, artistic associate Jamie Williams, director Jim Mezon, lighting consultant Rob Robbins, and technical director Edwin Burnett.

The wild west is coming to Pelham. Outlaw, written by Canadian playwright Norm Foster, will be performed at Three Acres Farm in Ridgeville this summer, one of the offerings of the St. Catharines-based Foster Festival.

Artistic Director Emily Oriold, who lives in Fonthill with actor-husband Darren Keay and their son, is thrilled with the locale.

“Last October we held our first annual Country Ceilidh [pronounced Kay-Lee], which is essentially an Irish barn dance, as a Foster Festival fundraiser,” she said. “We're doing more site-specific theatre now as a result of the pandemic, and have found that our audience really loves to be immersed in the environment of the theme of the plays. I love Outlaw, and I thought, ‘What if we did it in a barn?’ It’s based in 1871 in Kansas, with a sort of Wild West theme. The owner of Three Acres Farm on Effingham Street, Jeffrey Tyler, used to be an actor/choreographer. He and his wife had purchased the farm, and I saw his posting and said, ‘Oh, my goodness, look at that barn! It's beautiful.’ So I approached him about it.”

Three Acres Farm will also be hosting the group’s Country Ceilidh fundraiser on Sept 23.

Oriold said that there is seating for 120 in the barn, and the plan is to run 15 performances in total.

“It's selling extremely well. We’re about 70 percent full, and I have no doubt the whole run will sell out.”

Another recent Foster Festival innovation is its Local Hero Program.

“Sponsors and donors are sought to help us with this program,” said Oriold. “We’ve joined with Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, Walker Family Cancer Centre, Pelham Cares, Community Living St. Catharines, and Project Share to make seats available to their clients for all of our productions. A donation or sponsorship of $250 ensures that four tickets can be used by one of those organizations. We're hoping to give away a minimum of 100 tickets annually.”

The hope is to include transportation to and from partner agencies for festival performances, said Oriold.

“A Local Hero donor will see their name displayed with others who have made the generous contribution to bring laughter to those within our community, who might otherwise be unable to attend due to social and economic barriers,” she said.

Contact Artistic Associate Jamie Williams at 1-844-735-4832, extension 2, for details of the Local Hero Program. Tax receipts are available for the full amount contributed.

“You'll be seeing more of a presence of the Foster Festival in Pelham in the future, because we’re quite passionate about seeing the arts grow in our community,” said Oriold. “The Meridian Community Centre is a great space for smaller shows, such as Carousel Players has done with some of their children's performances. There's definitely an interest in the community for live arts, so we plan to keep working to bring shows here at different sites, such as the Old Town Hall on Canboro Road.”

The arts bring joy in good times and bad, said Oriold.

“Norm Foster writes comedies that lift people's spirits,” she said. “We want to contribute to the well-being and mental health of our community. Through the communal experience of live arts, we can offer not only an afternoon or evening’s entertainment, but also shared laughter, a balm for the soul.”

Outlaw, by Norm Foster, runs at Three Acres Farm, 1705 Effingham Street in Ridgeville, from June 21 to July 2.


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Don Rickers

About the Author: Don Rickers

A life-long Niagara resident, Don Rickers worked for 35 years in university and private school education. He segued into journalism in his retirement with the Voice of Pelham, and now PelhamToday
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