Call­ing all au­thors

De­light­ful “Katharine’s Is­land” de­buts at Fortress Louis­bourg

Cape Breton Post - - ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT - Ken Chisholm lives in Syd­ney and has writ­ten plays, songs, re­views, mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles. He can be reached at kchisholm100@gmail.com.

“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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/ED GIL­LIS

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.

Ken Chisholm

The Cen­tre Isle

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