Ex­hibit to ex­plore ‘Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay’

Lo­cal storytellers, singers, po­ets fo­cus of mul­ti­me­dia project

The Compass - - OPINION - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Peo­ple vis­it­ing Pla­cen­tia next sum­mer will be able to learn about the sig­nif­i­cant and in some cases less well-known char­ac­ters who’ve had a knack for shar­ing sto­ries in the area, ei­ther through song, po­etry, or straight-up gabbing.

A new mul­ti­me­dia ex­hibit, ti­tled “Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay,” will be housed in the Cul­tural In­ter­pre­ta­tion Build­ing next to the town hall in Pla­cen­tia. Colleen Shea, an in­ter­pre­tive plan­ner who has worked on the project along­side main ex­hibitor Mar­i­lyn Mahle, has been thor­oughly en­joy­ing her­self while sort­ing through piles of audio record­ings and other ma­te­rial.

“It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of all of the singers, play­ers and storytellers that came out of Pla­cen­tia Bay — the most amaz­ing amount of tal­ent,” she told The Com­pass. “It’s about how the old songs and old sto­ries were pre­served and passed on by the tra­di­tion bear­ers from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, fam­ily to fam­ily and com­mu­nity to com­mu­nity.”

The ex­hibit will also look at how the tra­di­tion of sto­ry­telling re­mains strong within the younger gen­er­a­tion. Shea cred­its the emer­gence of mu­si­cians from the area like Matthew Byrne, Kevin Collins, Damien Fol­lett, Larry Fo­ley and Geral­dine Hol­lett for help­ing that cause.

“They’re build­ing a whole new body of tra­di­tional mu­sic that is new, vi­brant and dif­fer­ent, but still rooted in the tra­di­tions of where they come from.”

Wealth of ma­te­rial

The hard­est part of work­ing on the project for Shea has been de­ter­min­ing what can fit into the ex­hibit. Shea and Mahle ini­tially started with a col­lec­tion of re­search pre­pared by Eric West in 1978.

“There are hours and hours and hours of tapes,” Shea said of West’s work, which in­cludes 23 in­ter­view sub­jects, some of which came from re­set­tled is­lands in the area.

“We tried to in­clude peo­ple from all over Pla­cen­tia Bay.”

“Some of those peo­ple were older peo­ple then, and they’re long gone … When we started try­ing to fig­ure out who they were and fit them in and find out about them, their fam­i­lies are still around … They were the peo­ple who were singing in the kitchens and they were the peo­ple who were singing at the dances and the times.”

The mul­ti­me­dia ex­hibit will in­clude some of th­ese in­ter­views, plus fur­ther in­ter­views con­ducted with peo­ple who have built upon the old sto­ry­telling tra­di­tions and kept them alive in the area.

“We tried to in­clude peo­ple from all over Pla­cen­tia Bay,” said Shea.

There will also be slideshows, mu­sic, videos and bi­o­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion. Shea hopes to in­clude in­ter­ac­tive com­po­nents that al­low peo­ple to play mu­sic them­selves or share po­etry.

Memo­rial Univer­sity’s Re­search Cen­tre for Mu­sic, Me­dia and Place is also help­ing set up a web­site for the ex­hibit that will in­clude a wealth of ad­di­tional archival ma­te­rial.

A Face­book page — Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay (https://www.face­book.com/voic­e­sofpb) — has been used to help iden­tify peo­ple and learn more about the storytellers.

Tom O’Keefe, pres­i­dent of the Pla­cen­tia Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, is pleased to see the project mov­ing for­ward.

“It’s great re­ally, be­cause it’s build­ing on what is our pri­mary ob­jec­tive — to high­light the his­tory of the area,” he said.

The so­ci­ety re­ceived fund­ing from the provin­cial Depart­ment of Business, Tourism, Cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and the fed­eral Depart­ment of Cana­dian Her­itage to cre­ate the ex­hibit. The Town of Pla­cen­tia is also part­ner­ing with the so­ci­ety by pro­vid­ing space for the ex­hibit.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Next sum­mer, this wooden struc­ture will be filled with mul­ti­me­dia ma­te­rial for an ex­hibit called “Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay.”

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