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Isle aux Morts Theatre Festival’s fifth season underway

The Da Koodens’ cast performed a total of 16 comedy skits for dinner guests and will perform twice more during the annual Isle aux Morts Theatre Festival.
The Da Koodens’ cast will perform comedy skits for dinner guests during the annual Isle aux Morts Theatre Festival. FILE PHOTO

History and folktales collide on the stage

ISLE AUX MORTS, N.L. —

Sara Connors

Special to The Gulf News

The Isle Aux Morts Theatre Festival’s fifth season is in full swing, and this year’s performances are expected to draw in big crowds as they have every summer.

This year’s lineup includes festival classics such as the lantern play A Fish Tale and sketch comedy dinner show group Da Koodens, as well as Cod Love, an adaptation of Ann Harvey’s story crossed with The Princess and The Frog.

Newly-appointed artistic director Lynn Panting says she’s excited for her first full year of directing. Panting replaced one of the festival’s original artistic leaders, playwright Jamie Skidmore, who retired last year.

“My biggest hope is to really connect with and celebrate the people of the west coast, their stories, their struggles and the absolute beauty of the landscape.”

Panting says the lantern play, an outdoor performance - which details Newfoundland’s history, Indigenous folk tales and the transcendent power of family - is “the crown jewel” of the festival.

“We’re taking history and folktales and blending them into this absolute spectacle, which I think really features Newfoundland and the west coast of Newfoundland at its highest point,” she said. “You’re going to see something you cannot experience anywhere else.”

Comedy group Da Koodens is in its 11th year of performing. Panting says it’s not unusual for fans of the group to drive several hours to see them.

“They’re local community members that have kind of come together to form a little bit of entertainment and it’s gotten a little bit bigger and bigger each year. I think they’re a big draw for the community and a real slice of comedy and culture.”

As most of the festival’s cast are local residents, Panting says it’s community that keeps the festival a success year after year.
“Every year that we go out, we discover more and more people and get more undiscovered talent,” she said. “You really need to have community support, otherwise (we’d) be lost.”

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