Play about Harvey Rescue in the works

Brodie Thomas
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Anne of Green Gables has enjoyed years of success in the form of a musical on Prince Edward Island. Isle aux Morts’ famous heroine Ann Harvey may soon be able to give that other Anne a run for her money.

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A professor from Memorial University is starting work on a script that will tell the Harvey Rescue story in dramatic form.

Blanford Billard, Isle aux Morts’ community development assistant, attended a workshop put on by the Harris Centre earlier this spring and the idea for a play came out of a brainstorming session. Representatives with the Harris Centre liked the idea and offered to help.

“They said they would just put out some sort of a call and let people know there are groups out there looking for this,” said Mr. Billard.

Mr. Billard’s request also asked for scripts on other local legends such as accordion maestro Minnie White and Lockie MacDougall of Wreckhouse fame.

Jamie Skidmore is a professor in the university’s English department who teaches theatre and film.

He was contacted by the Harris Centre and asked if he would be interested in penning a play on the subject.

He was already familiar with the story because of the Ann and Seamus opera that has already been written.

“It’ll be a drama for sure,” said Mr. Skidmore. “We’ll try to get some music in it as well. The tact I’m considering is doing it from the perspective of the first mate on this ship.”

He said it will likely involve the first mate telling the story of the rescue to his family. Actors will then flash back to the events of the rescue.

“The key to any play is having a good story and begin able to convey it as clearly as possible,” said Mr. Skidmore.

Although little is on paper yet, he has given the story a lot of though. Mr. Skidmore said he is a bit intimidated by writing the Newfoundland accent into his play, but figures as early immigrants, the Harveys’ accents would have been closer to English.

Mr. Billard said they are hoping to bring Mr. Skidmore out to Isle aux Morts later this summer to see the community and get a feel for the landscape.

He said a recent tour of the Newfoundland Play “Tempting Providence” was an inspiration to him. He realized something similar could be done for the Harvey Rescue Story.

“Tempting Providence is just about a normal woman who did some amazing things,” said Mr. Billard. “Lockie, Minnie White and the Harveys are also examples of everyday people doing amazing things.”

Mr. Skidmore shares Mr. Billard’s vision.

“I think its great that Blanford is taking on this initiative and realizes how important it is to spread the best stories of Newfoundland,” he said.

Mr. Skidmore expects to have a rough draft of the Harvey play in about a year’s time. He will then get feedback on the work from locals and trained actors.

Mr. Billard’s call for plays on Minnie White and Lockie MacDougall have not yet been answered, but the request is posted on Memorial University’s website.

Organizations: Harris Centre

Geographic location: Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland

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