In the summer of 1993, Rising Tide recreated history with The Trinity Pageant.






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Rising Tide Theatre

Founded in 1978, Rising Tide has become one of the longest-performing theatre companies in Newfoundland and Labrador. Its originating members Donna Butt and David Ross (both formerly of the Mummer's Troupe) produced their first play ­ Daddy ... What's A Train? ­ in January of 1979 at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre, the venue that would become the company's first home.

Bringing the Past to Life Bringing the Past to Life.
Actors in Rising Tide Theatre's Summer in the Bight festival portray a scene of the past.
Reproduced by permission of Rising Tide Theatre. Photo by Ned Pratt from Rising Tide Theatre's Summer in the Bight festival (Summer 2000).
Larger Version (52 kb)

Between 1979 and 1993 Rising Tide produced over fifteen different plays with cast members too numerous to mention. These years are perhaps Rising Tide's most eclectic time; their productions can be organized into three different categories.

First, the company produced collectively-written, political plays that addressed controversial issues for Newfoundland. For example, Daddy ... What's A Train? addressed the loss of the Newfoundland railway, John and the Missus looked at resettlement, and Joey was a window onto the province's first premier, Joseph R. Smallwood.

Second, Rising Tide also produced scripted plays such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. These productions may seem "mainstream", but the company was determined to stage the plays with the spirit of contemporary and local politics.

Third, 1985 saw the première version of what would become Rising Tide's trademark performance: Revue '84. Every year since then, Rising Tide has presented a Revue to Arts and Culture Centre audiences across Newfoundland and Labrador. No politician or public figure is immune to the satire and good-humoured lampooning of the revue-style sketch comedy. These productions are very popular; audiences have always been familiar with the sketch comedy form and the use of strong comic actors has guaranteed the financial success of Revue.

Frolicking by the Sea.
A scene from the Summer in the Bight festival where characters frolic by the sea.
Reproduced by permission of Rising Tide Theatre. Photo by Ned Pratt from Rising Tide Theatre's Summer in the Bight festival (Summer 2000).
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Frolicking by the Sea

The year 1993 marked another major change for Rising Tide. While continuing with their yearly Revues and Arts and Culture Centre productions, the company also went into a small Newfoundland community to produce a historical pageant. That summer saw the first production of The New Founde Lande (the Trinity Pageant), written by Donna Butt and Rick Boland. Presented as a walking tour of the town of Trinity, Trinity Bay, it came complete with dramatic vignettes recreating the history of the province from the time of the first settlers to the formation of Representative Government in 1832. A visit with Sir Richard Whitbourne, a raid by the infamous pirate Peter Easton, a lamentation for drowned sealers, and a final cry for the future of the province are all events on this haunting, hilarious, and very dramatic recreation.

Rising Tide's presence in Trinity has since expanded to include the Summer in the Bight Theatre Festival that sees the production of Newfoundland plays (e.g. West Moon by Al Pittman, Head, Guts and Soundbone Dance by Michael Cook, and As Loved Our Father by Tom Cahill). The summer of 2000 saw the completion of a new theatre space in Trinity ­ in which the touring Revue show opened ­ a sign that the pageant, the theatre festival, and Rising Tide are going strong.

Saltfish Dispute Saltfish Dispute.
Characters in Summer in the Bight dispute over an armful of saltfish.
Reproduced by permission of Rising Tide Theatre. Photo by Ned Pratt from Rising Tide Theatre's Summer in the Bight festival (Summer 2000).
Larger Version (81 kb)

From its inception, Rising Tide has been committed to staging plays about Newfoundland and written by Newfoundlanders. The company has successfully combined that mandate with a desire to explore current affairs and controversial issues as well as produce as wide a variety of theatrical experience as possible.

©2000, Danine Farquharson


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