The fervent Donna Butt, co-founder and artistic director of the Rising Tide Theatre Company, once again tackles all topics for the merriment and betterment of us all
If a rising tide lifts all boats then there’s little argument that Donna Butt and the fine folks at Rising Tide have been lifting at least our spirits since 1984 when Revue first launched.
‘‘We’ve been doing it longer than most people have been alive,’’ Butt opens with a hearty laugh.
Butt, a proud recipient of the Order of Canada, is proof that professional theatre is flourishing throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, as each and every year Revue hits the road she and her merry crew have been greeted by fans and theatre enthusiasts of all ages.
2019 has been an interesting year, and Revue is ready to poke fun at it all. First up? Dildo, of course.
‘Just writes itself’
‘‘Amanda Mews! How delightful! I mean, that just writes itself. It’s a great story, of course. At the time, it was middle of summer and we were incredibly busy here in Trinity, but it’s such an amazing story that we had to tackle it,’’ she says.
Dildo town counselor, Andrew Pretty, has embraced Revue’s attention to the topic. ‘‘We actually talked to Andrew Pretty and he and a whole group will be coming in to St. John’s on the 17th to see this show, and so we’re really looking forward to that. They actually sent us all their signs and their T-shirts and everything so we can use that. It’s so much fun.’’
Butt says stories like the Dildo/Kimmel yarn are what Revue was made for.
‘‘Well, it’s a pretty extraordinary story. It’s not really so much a political story, but it’s a great story. It is interesting about the numbers of people that are attracted now to that place for one reason – because of the name of the town. And to think, years ago they thought they might change it. I bet they are glad they didn’t now!’’
The Rooms fiasco
Politically, there were two elections in 2019, so there’s ‘‘fabulous fodder, from that,’’ Butt says.
‘‘Both resulted in minority governments. So we’re kind of asking; who did we vote for? Who didn’t we vote? It’s almost like the electorate didn’t know who they wanted to vote for, or against. Many weren’t sure if they wanted to vote for either side, so they split the difference. But elections are always good fodder for us here.’’
And, there’s what she calls ‘The Rooms fiasco.’ ‘That turned into a bigger story than I think anybody had anticipated at the time, and we’ve taken a pretty good look at that story because it’s a larger story about how government operates. So so we’re taking a look at it from that perspective and how some of those conversations could have gone.’’
Butt says there will be some ‘‘old hands’’ and some ‘‘new faces’’ on stage this year.
‘‘You know, some of us are still there trying to hobble around offering whatever wisdom we might have, if not legs that work as well as they used to, but if we manage to get to a stage, we’ll manage to get through the show and we’re looking forward to it,’’ she jokes, referencing their many shows planned for Arts and Culture Centres and other stages throughout the province between January 16-February 22.
‘‘It’s truly a tradition we carry forward year after year. We have music, you don’t want to miss that, and the comedy of course,’’ she says.
The audience appreciates live music, she adds. ‘‘There’s lots of original Newfoundland songs and parodies and accordion and guitar and all kinds of music playing and some great singers as well. We hope that the audience will enjoy that as well.’’
From aquaculture rackets to telephone conversations caught on tape; it’s all in there, she teases. But, they never ever forget to poke fun at the politicians who continue to provide so much material. ‘‘Some politicians, they must go and confess their sins, as much as they’re capable of that,’’ she says with a wink. More laughter. There’s also a kitchen party that, interestingly enough, starts off with a racket between Albertans and Newfoundlanders. ‘‘I don’t want to give too much away about how we’re doing it, but the whole Alberta/Newfoundland and Labrador thing and how all of that went down is a big ol’ theme. We’re doing a kind of a take on Family Feud, which has come to Canada.’’
From horror films to the folks left behind on Little Bay Islands to the environment and climate change to moose who take over a farmer’s field; it’s all in there.
Butt hopes to once again fill theatre seats all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador as they celebrate, commemorate, and poke fun at, the year that was 2019.
Something for everyone
‘‘We’ve got a lot of great singers and so many fabulous characters. There’s hard cases – a combination of singers and hard cases – and the ones who can’t sing are the hardest cases of all,’’ she teases.
The most difficult challenge with Revue is perhaps also the thing that brings her the greatest sense of pride; that they get all across this province of ours in the winter months.
‘‘It is the middle of winter, which is a hard time to be on the road. Hard for us and I’m sure hard for a lot of the audience because they come from great distances to see the show. But you know what? I think that makes the laughter at each show so much sweeter. It’s winter in Newfoundland. It’s dreary. It’s miserable. Let’s all have a laugh and enjoy ourselves, for at least one evening.’’
For tickets and show times visit: risingtidetheatre.com & artsandculturecentre.com