Canada’s Storyteller coming to Stanstead
ing to the Townships, this time to the famous Haskell Opera House, in Stanstead.
Reached at his hotel room in Halifax, Mr. Mclean explained why he was coming to Stanstead to put on a show. “We were down at North Hatley last summer and it’s a beautiful part of the world. I was raised in Montreal but we always went to the Laurentians so I wasn’t familiar with the Townships. The second factor is that we wanted to do something about the border,” he said. When asked if he would look at issues like the tightened security, Mr. Mclean commented: “I don’t think those problems are longterm. Storms blow through towns, sometimes through our lives, but I want to speak about deeper things, abiding relationships between friends. I’m talking about the two countries. We have a lot to learn from each other; sometimes we pick up bad traits but we can pick up the good stuff too. There’s a conversation to be had between Canada and the United States, there’s been a lot between politicians, but it’s time the conversation expanded to include others. I’m happy that our show can contribute to that conversation.”
Asked if it was unusual for the Vinyl Café production team to tape shows in small communities, the widely admired storyteller replied: “No. We do concerts in big cities, all the major centres, but sometimes the great stories are in the smaller towns. Working for the CBC, it is our job to reflect the country to itself. And in small locations we can touch on the big themes, like our relationship with the United States.”
It’s been several decades since Mr. Mclean has been to Stanstead. “As a schoolboy I played hockey and football against Stanstead College. That was the last time I was there,” he admitted. Before taping the two shows at the Haskell Opera House, scheduled for Wednesday,
May 23rd and Thursday, May 24th, 7 pm each night, the host and the show’s producer, Jess Milton, will spend some time in Stanstead. “We always spend a few days getting our sea legs, getting to know the town. I wander around and talk to people.”
“We go there a few days ahead so we can get a clear picture of what life is like in that town,” explained Ms. Milton, the producer of the show for the last nine years. It will take a full day for the crew to get the Opera House ready for the taping. “We arrive at about 10:30 in the morning to be ready for the 7 o’clock show. The nice people at the Haskell have been very helpful sending us pictures of the interior and measurements so we can prepare. And we’re lucky to have a really talented sound director, Bill Herault who has been with us for fifteen years, and lighting director Lucas Simonetto. Stuart and I are really excited about coming to Stanstead. We love the Eastern Townships and I’m looking forward to riding my bike there because I’m training for a bike race,” she added. The producer had this to say about why the show is coming to Stanstead: “We were so intrigued by the Opera House which straddles the border. It runs right through the Opera House with the stage in Canada and the audience in the United States. It was built in a different time and we’re lucky to still have that.”
After taping the two shows, one radio show is created from the two shows. That show will air on CBC Radio Two on July 21st, 9:05 am, and on CBC Radio One on July 22nd, 12:05 pm, and on July 24th, 11:05 pm.
Mr. Mclean has been busy writing a special ‘Dave and Morley’ story for the Stanstead shows. “It will be about Dave’s adventure at the border,” he said. The musical guest will be Ottawa musician Kathleen Edwards who very recently appeared on the
show. “We’re looking forward to introducing Kathleen Edwards to the country. I think it will be a special night: Kathleen is a top performer and I’m very pleased with my Dave story, it’s pretty funny. I think it will be a night we will all enjoy!”
Famous for his ability to put into words the big and small things that make us Canadian, adding meaning and value to our everyday lives, Stuart Mclean’s visit to Stanstead is sure to be remembered for years and may even be a nice ‘shot in the arm’. The timing also seems good for a discussion about the importance of friendship.
For more information or to buy tickets contact the Haskell Box Office at 819 876-2471 ext. 205, or Catamount Arts at 888 757-5559, or check the Vinyl Café’s website.
Stuart Mclean is bringing his Vinyl Café radio show to Stanstead’s Haskell Opera House on May 23rd and May 24th.