Lo­cal play­wright cel­e­brates leg­end

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

Phoebe Nobbs Hyde was an ac­tor, in­ter­preter, his­tor­i­cal re­searcher, world trav­eller and a thor­oughly ec­cen­tric char­ac­ter who left her his­tor­i­cal fam­ily home, Green­wood in Hud­son, to Canadian Her­itage of Québec to be­come a Mu­seum of Liv­ing His­tory in 1994.

Phoebe’s Gift, a new play by Van­kleek Hill play­wright and for­mer Dun­ve­gan res­i­dent Bon­nie Laing will pre­miere at St. Mary’s Hall in Hud­son Au­gust 17, for five per­for­mances.

“Phoebe was a play­wright’s dream as a char­ac­ter,” says Ms. Laing. “She was flam­boy­ant, con­tra­dic­tory, pas­sion­ate and charming. She mar­ried twice – a ship’s captain who be­came the captain of the Queen Mary, and then a man who was 30 years older than she, whom she’d had a crush on since she was a teenager. Although she was widely known to be tight­fisted, she gen­er­ously left her home and its con­tents to be en­joyed by ev­ery­one.” Phoebe’s Gift is a hu­mor­ous and af­fec­tion­ate look at Phoebe’s life, di­rected by Mary Vuorela and us­ing five ac­tors in a num­ber of roles to play the many peo­ple who in­flu­enced her life. It in­cludes ex­cerpts from the mono­logues she per­formed in Eng­land and Canada, most of which were amus­ingly po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect.

Born into a wealthy West­mount fam­ily (her fa­ther was noted ar­chi­tect Percy Nobbs), she re­belled against many of the re­straints and ex­pec­ta­tions of a life of priv­i­lege. She stud­ied at the pres­ti­gious Royal Academy of Dra­matic Art in Lon­don, Eng­land, per­formed Shake­speare on her lawn at Green­wood and did a tremen­dous amount of re­search into the lives of First Na­tions peo­ple, amass­ing a valu­able col­lec­tion of First Na­tions ar­ti­facts along the way.

Tick­ets for the din­ner and show in­clude a visit to Green­wood.

Tick­ets are avail­able on­line at www.the­atrepanach­e.ca or by call­ing (450) 458-5281.

“Bring­ing Phoebe to life was a chal­lenge,” says Ms. Laing, who with the aid of the vol­un­teer staff at Green­wood, waded through more than a hun­dred boxes of pa­pers, let­ters and ar­ti­facts. She in­ter­viewed many mem­bers of Phoebe’s fam­ily and friends who shared their mem­o­ries and anec­dotes. “What emerged was a com­plex and mem­o­rable in­di­vid­ual who lived her life with pas­sion.”

REBEL: Phoebe Nobbs Hyde, a gen­er­ous and re­bel­lious char­ac­ter, is the sub­ject of a new play.

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