Local playwright celebrates legend
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.