Celebrating in story and song
For six years now, the St. Peters Courthouse Theatre has hosted a summer festival in tribute to the writing legacy of former poet laureate of P.E.I. and native of St. Peters Bay, the late Frank Ledwell.
Celebrating storytelling of all kinds, including comedy, song, the written word and oral storytelling itself, The Frank Ledwell Storytelling and Comedy Festival is a three-day presentation of a variety of writers, musicians and storytellers.
There could not be a more perfect location for the festival, as Ledwell himself used to perform at the courthouse. And what makes the entertainment Out And
About lineup extra special is the key uniting factor that all performers have some sort of connection to Frank — whether it be family member, friend, writing colleague or former student.
Last Friday featured Teresa Doyle, Nils Ling, Deirdre Kessler, Mike Dixon and Jane Ledwell, followed by a Saturday night lineup of Laurie Brinklow, Alan Buchanan, Margie Carmichael and Ed MacDonald.
And on Sunday night, I was at hand for the final show of the festival that featured Patrick Ledwell, Brian J. Dunn and Dianne Hicks Morrow.
As things got underway at 8 p.m., the audience members in the nearly-full theatre were doubling over in their seats right away with introductory tales from the growing-up years by the night's host, and Frank's eldest son, comedian Patrick Ledwell.
Well known now on P.E.I. as being the man who can bring a giggle workout to your abs better than 100 sit-ups could do, he has been holding down the humour fort in Hunter River once again this summer, for the third instalment of The Island Summer Review at Harmony House Theatre.
It was a treat to take in Patrick's rounds of storytelling there in St. Peters, though, as he also lamented to us about his first performance experiences — coaxed on by his father — in that very theatre.
It was wonderful to hear P.E.I.'s poet laureate, Hicks Morrow, talk about her connection to Frank, as she credits his encouragement as her creative writing professor at UPEI with jumpstarting her writing career.
Readings from her latest book of poetry, "What Really Happened Is This: A Poetry Memoir", and other written works of both poetry and prose comprised her segments that night as we also received a taste of entertaining 1. The Spirit of Chautauqua - 151 Heather Moyse Dr., Summerside, today from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 2. Trailside weekend featuring The Museum Pieces tonight, Charlie A'Court tomorrow night and AquaAlta (with Jenn Grant) on Sunday night - Trailside Café, Mount Stewart, 8 p.m. with dinner seating at 6:30 p.m. 3. Rebecca Caine - St. Mary's Church, Indian River, today at 7:30 p.m. 4. Rock The Boat Musicfest - Tyne Valley, starting tomorrow at 2 p.m., featuring Tom Cochrane, Matt Andersen, the Irish Descendants and more. Check out peioysterfest.com. 5. P.E.I. Highland Games and Scottish Fest - Lord Selkirk Provincial Park, tomorrow. Visit caledonianclubofpei.ca for information. new material for her forthcoming book.
Dunn brought the music component as he serenaded the room that night with a voice that conveys high emotion through carefully crafted alt-country songs like God Only Knows and Pretty Black Dress - tunes from his recent CD release, "Death Do Us Part".
It was my first time to get a good chance to listen to Dunn in performance, and I now really look forward to the next time. Check out www.brianjdunn.ca for more on this talented Island singer/songwriter.
And with a finale to the night that featured a recitation of the Frank Ledwell poem, "John of the Island", by Patrick, the show and, indeed, the sixth annual festival itself wrapped up on a very fitting note.
If you've never attended the Frank Ledwell Storytelling and Comedy Festival before and are a fan of storytelling and original P.E.I. music (or of course are a fan of Frank Ledwell's writing), then do keep it in mind for a summer's night out in lovely St. Peters next year.
Your other chances to catch upcoming shows at St. Peters Courthouse include "The Rumour Mill" every Thursday this summer and the Summer Concert Series featuring Jordan Cameron and Andrew Waite on Aug. 12 and Irish Mythen on Aug. 26.
You can also take in the movie night at the Courthouse every Friday, with admission by donation.
For more information, visit www.courthousetheatre.ca.
Next week: Rock The Boat Musicfest.