New Theatre Festival Takes Root in L.M. Montgomery’s Avonlea

Posted today at CBC.ca:

A new theatre festival soon to begin in Cavendish, P.E.I., will present a suite of plays dating from the lifetime of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.

The Island community, already a mecca for Anne lovers from around the world, is beginning the new summer theatre festival in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables.

Duncan McIntosh, a director of theatre, opera and special events, is the artistic director.

He plans a season based on playwrights who inspired L.M. Montgomery, who lived from 1874 to 1942, or whose works were influenced by the writer.

The first season will include:

  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, dating from 1908, in a new adaptation by McIntosh.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, first performed 1895.
  • Village Wooing by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1933.

Previews begin June 20 with the season to run from June 27 to Aug. 31. Anne of Green Gables was first published on June 20, 1908.

A 200-seat theatre has been created in the Church at Avonlea Village, a church built in 1872 and moved from its original location in Long River.

“It was a church that Montgomery attended, that she dreamed and hoped and prayed and imagined her immortal stories in, this church,” McIntosh told CBC News.

“And we as a community of Cavendish thought this was a perfect place to make our contribution to the celebration of the 100th anniversary.”

McIntosh, who directed the dedication ceremonies of Canada’s war memorial in Vimy, France, also directed the world premiere of Anne and Gilbert, a spinoff of the long-running Anne musical in Charlottetown.

He is a past artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival, the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and Theatre Plus in Toronto, and has been a resident director at the Canadian Film Centre and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.