Calling all authors
Delightful “Katharine’s Island” debuts at Fortress Louisbourg
“It’s just a way to keep the literary pulse beating in Sydney’s downtown,” said Ed Gillis about the short story contest his store is sponsoring.
Gillis, who owns Ed’s Books and More on Sydney’s Charlotte Street, says the idea for a competition evolved from the creative writing workshops held at the store by playwright and Cape Breton Post columnist Paul MacDougall.
“On the last day of the workshops, we were throwing ideas around on what to do to continue with another project and this idea stuck,” he recalls. “We saw it as a way to get some enjoyment out of the creative process and encourage participation in the arts.”
All stories must be 2,000 words or less, typed, page numbered at the bottom, in a 12-point easy to read font. The story’s title should be on the first page but with no name or any other identifying information. The author’s name, contact information, word count and story title go on a separate sheet of paper.
Entries can be submitted at the store or by Canada Post (446 Charlotte St, Sydney, N.S., B1P 1E4). Entrants should keep a copy for themselves. A self-addressed, stamped envelope should be included if entrants want their stories returned, however, the judges will not provide comments on anyone’s work.
There is a $10 entrance fee (cash or cheque to Ed Gillis) with the first, second and third place winners receiving their fees back.
The winners will have their stories read on The Coast Radio, and, if the received stories are of sufficient quality, Gillis says a printed anthology is being con- sidered.
The deadline for entries is 5 p.m., Oct. 1. The identities of the panel of three judges is a closely guarded secret, but Gillis is not one of them.
He says he plans to enter the contest himself.
*** • The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site offers many unique experiences but my personal favourite has to be the program of live theatre performances it hosts every summer.
This summer, the fortress has its ever popular murder mystery on Thursday evenings and a stirring, locally written original play, “Katharine’s Island,” about Katharine McLennan, the Cape Breton woman whom the play’s program rightly describe as “one of the most hardworking, influential Canadian women of her time.”
I was fortunate enough to see the debut performance held in the meticulously rebuilt chapel in the King’s Bastion. The play was preceded by dinner at one of the restaurants on the site’s harbourfront.
Lindsay Thompson’s script recounts how McLennan grew up a daughter of privilege in Sydney and had her life turned upside down by her service in the First World War as a volunteer nurse. She returned to Cape Breton fired up with a commitment to public service. She was instrumental in establishing Louisbourg as a national historic site, and the founding of both the Cape Breton Regional Library and the Old Sydney Society.
Thompson also shows how McLennan’s interests in history and experiences during the war might have led her to muse on other women in history: a Mi’kmaq woman facing the arrival of European settlers, a French nun facing the panic of war, a Scottish midwife at work during one of the sieges of the fortress, and a French indentured servant speaking plainly to her mistress about her life.
The play features strong, heartfelt performances from Thompson, Sandy Anthony, Kathleen O’Toole, Maura Lea Morykot and Jenn Tubrett. It also features several beautifully sung a cappella songs that, resonating off the whitewashed stone walls of the chapel, almost makes one believe you are in the sound box of a fine instrument.
The fortress offers many delights but enjoying wonderful theatre on the site after the visitors and staff have left for the day is one of the most exceptional.
For more information on tickets, go to www.fortressoflouisbourg.ca/KatharinesIsland or contact the Louisbourg Playhouse Box Office, the Town of Louisbourg Visitor Information Centre or the Fortress of Louisbourg Visitor Reception Centre.
Ed Gillis relaxes in his Sydney bookstore, Ed’s Books and More. Gillis is sponsoring a short story contest to keep “the literary pulse” of downtown Sydney beating.
The Centre Isle